Organic Beauty Products—Do You Know How To Spot Them?

Not only are there a lot of beauty products that claim to be the latest, greatest, most innovative thing; there are a lot that now claim to be the "greenest." All-natural and organic products are flooding the market and gaining popularity among those concerned about the safety of chemicals used in their everyday routine and the impact on the earth. But many consumers still don't know or understand what to look for in natural products and how to avoid marketing schemes and hype.

Vincent Morel, spokesperson for ECOCERT, one of the largest organic certification organizations in the world recently told CosmeticDesign.com that "there is a lack of information in the U.S. right now if you compare it to the European market. In Europe there is a real interest in natural cosmetics."

In fact, not only do Europeans have more interest in natural products, they are far stricter in their regulations on what can and cannot be used in beauty products for the public. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a non-profit lobbying for stricter regulations on personal care items sold in the U.S., the European Union Cosmetics Directive was revised in January 2003 to ban 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics while the U.S. FDA has banned or restricted only 11.

If you are interested in what the FDA deems "organic" to make your product purchasing decisions, here is what to look for:

If the product says it is "100 percent organic" it must contain only organically grown and produced food ingredients. If this is the case, it will have a label that displays the USDA Organic seal.

If the product says it is "organic" it must contain at least 95 percent organically grown and produced food ingredients. If this is the case, it will have a label that displays the USDA Organic seal.

If the product says it is "made with organic ingredients," the product must contain at least 70 percent organically grown and produced food ingredients. However it will not display a USDA Organic seal.

Products made with less than 70 percent organically grown and produced food ingredients can only include organic ingredients on its ingredients list, but these products cannot display the USDA Organic seal.

While the FDA supplies these guidelines, it is important to know that there are other independent certification companies that certify organic cosmetic products in North America as well.