“When Buying Organic Beauty Products, Know What You Are Paying For!”
CERTIFIED ORGANIC SKIN CARE AND OTHER PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
Why the independent logo such as ACO, USDA, BioGro or Soil Association matters
Know what you are paying for!
Do you actually know what you’re getting when you buy a product with an organic label? We tend to think if the label has an official-looking organic stamp, it must be legit, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is not like that. The truth is: not all organic labels are certified equal.
When you are buying an organic product, why are you doing it? Is it because you care about the environment, your body and health, or both, or something else entirely?
When buying a cosmetic beauty product that claims to be organic, but lacks any proof on its label, do you believe it is organic? Perhaps it is a trusted brand and you think they may not be allowed to lie if it were not true. Sadly, you are wrong, there is no government nor legal control over what the brand puts on its product. It is up to you, a consumer, to do the research and distinguish between all those green, ECO and organic labels.
At the end of the day, when you take the time and effort to study the ingredients label on the product you are planning to use, you are doing it, hopefully, because you care about your own health. Disappointingly once you venture deeper, you will find out that many so called green brands use plenty of synthetic chemicals and/ or heavily processed substances. They also cleverly disguise this fact by replacing the more known names of these chemicals by less known synonyms or pseudonyms even.
The same procedure goes for major skin care producers whose products are heavily advertised on TV and priced cheaply in your local Boots, Superdrug or a supermarket. However, these companies do not even attempt to disguise their ingredients, because they rely on an unsuspecting nature of a cash-strapped consumer who is easily manipulated by a celebrity endorsement or a great TV commercial. These manufacturers are here to make money and they do not care about the potential health problems their products, full of toxic ingredients, may cause to consumers.
Because I have been using Miessence® brand myself since 2010, I wanted to know and be able to explain why their products are potentially the best there are.
Did you know that Miessence® was the world’s first skin care care range, certified organic to food standards by an independent party certifier? Yes, it was, but it is no longer the only brand out there that approached an independent Agricultural Certifying Body to approve and certify their skin care range. Over the years many other brands have done the same and those that did we have in our store, at least those we were able to secure. They are Plantae, New Zealand made certified organic skincare range certified organic by BioGro, New Zealand authority on all things truly organic, Organic Essence body care line certified organic by USDA.
The Miessence® product range bears the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) Seal of Approval from Australia’s leading certifying body, a division of the Biological Farmers of Australia Co-op Ltd. The ACO sets and maintain stringent quality standards that are internationally recognised as either compliant with or exceeding international requirements for organic foods.
Managing Director of ACO, Mr Akiko Nicholls, says: “Consumers need to be very careful when choosing organic cosmetic products, as ‘certified organic’ claims can vary – more so than with organic food.” He also warns: “Since there are various private organic cosmetic standards in the world and they are all very different, consumers need to be educated on what to look for to make sure they get what they are paying for.”
But different labels mean different things. For a cosmetic product to receive the Australian Certified Organic stamp, it must contain 95 per cent or more certified organic ingredients whereas the European standard Ecocert stamp only specifies the product have a majority of plant-based ingredients.
Sounds confusing? Beneath you will find a handy guide about the different certifications and their meanings so that you know what you are paying for when choosing the right brand.
AUSTRALIAN CERTIFIED ORGANIC (ACO)
Their local standard is recognised as one of the most stringent in the world. To be classified as Australian Certified Organic (ACO), skincare and other products must contain 95 per cent certified organic ingredients while the remaining five per cent are restricted to natural ingredients which must meet stringent requirements. In Australia this includes no synthetic ingredients at all (including no nature identical).
Australian Certified Organic web-site says this about the natural ingredients:
“Global trade in natural ingredients has increased dramatically in the last years, a growth driven by consumers that looks forward to safer cosmetics free of harmful chemicals. While organic certified cosmetics contains a high proportion of organic ingredients certified under several international organic standards, they also contain a small proportion of natural ingredients sourced from vegetable, mineral or marine renewable sources. Those natural ingredients are an important part of the product formula usually acting as moisturizers, surfactants, preservatives, etc.
Natural ingredients are not certified by a third party organization like organic raw materials, and due to this the lack of regulation the term natural has been applied to ingredients derived from GMO materials, or to ingredients that although initially derived from natural sources, have lost any ‘naturalness’ after so many synthetic chemical treatments.
The BFA Natural Ingredients for Cosmetics Scheme aims to provide comprehensive validation of natural ingredients to be used in ACO organic certified products, or by conventional cosmetics manufacturers wishing to market a product made with natural ingredients validated by a leading certification body. Through our ingredients database, cosmetics manufacturers and formulators will have at their disposal hundreds of approved ingredients ready to use, and because the database is open, consumers of end products will be able to discern if the so-called natural ingredient in their shampoo meets ACO stringent requirements”.
You can find the full list of allowed ingredients on the ACO website. ACO certified cosmetics are accepted by most major trading countries without any additional requirements including EU, US and Asian countries.
To use the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) Organic logo on a label, a cosmetic product must have a minimum of 95 per cent certified organic content (not including water and salt). However, unlike the ACO, the list of ingredients that can make up the remaining five per cent is extensive and can even include non-natural ingredients. The USDA also allows the use of the word ‘organic’ on products that contain a minimum 70 per cent organic ingredients but these products are not permitted to display the seal.
Soil Association is the largest organic certification body in the UK. According to their web-site, 95% of the ingredients must be organically approved for the product to be labelled with their logo. It does not state where the remaining 5% must come from. If the product contains 70-95% of organic ingredients, the label can display: “Made with xx% organic ingredients”, however, the remaining contents may be synthetic chemicals.
Soil Association has less stringent requirements for certification of personal care products than ACO & USDA and allows synthetic ingredients such as phenoxyethanol. Products marked with their logo may contain cocamidopropyl betaine, a surfactant that is partially produced using petrochemicals.
Between the two of the European organic certification bodies, Soil Association and ECOCERT, the Soil Association has higher demands when it comes to product content.
Ecocert, the European standard for organic labelling, was the very first certification body to develop standards for natural and organic cosmetics and, for a long time, their guidelines were also used as an industry standard. But since the explosion in the organic sector – especially when it comes to cosmetics – Ecocert’s standards are no longer the most stringent in the world. To receive the Ecocert Organic seal, a product must contain 95 per cent plant-based ingredients but only 10 per cent must come from organic farming. Ecocert also offer a Natural seal – to receive this a product must contain 50 per cent plant-based ingredients plus five per cent from organic farming.
Then there are a few trade association, such as BDIH (Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie-und Handelsunternehmen), NATRUE or COSMEBIO. These associations cover the labelling that is common amongst the organic products found in beauty shops, but where the content does not necessarily need to be organic. The common denominator is that they are trade associations, and thus indirectly controlled by the manufacturers themselves – and obviously they will act in their own interests.
BDIH (Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie-und Handelsunternehmen)
This is an association of companies that produce and/or sell cosmetics, food additives or non-prescription drugs. “Natural” means that it does not require any organic content. They have guidelines that describe how plant ingredients, wherever possible, should come from controlled organic cultivation. A product labelled with their logo is not necessarily 100% natural and 100% organic and the product may contain synthetic ingredients. BDIH allows sulfation, curing and synthetic preservatives and ingredients that are extracted by hydrolysis, esterification or other cracking and condensation, which in plain English means substantially processed substances.
Unlike other organic certification bodies, which also certify food, Natrue’s standards are for cosmetic products only. Based in Belgium, Natrue specifies that to be classified as organic, at least 95 per cent of the product’s natural ingredients “must come from controlled organic cultivation and/or controlled wild collection”. Notice the requirement is not to have 95 per cent organic ingredients – just that 95 per cent of the natural ingredients used must be organic. Natrue also has different requirements for different product types – what makes a soap organic, for example, differs to the standards applied to shampoos or creams.
Cosmebio is a French-based non-profit association for French manufacturers producing natural and organic skincare products. The organization requires that 95% of all ingredients must be natural, of natural origin or originate from organic cultivation. Allows up to 5% synthetic content, but synthetic fragrances or dyes, petroleum substances (paraffin, silicone, PEG), parabens or phenoxyethanol are not allowed.
What To Look Out For
- If you are searching for truly natural skin care products that are free of synthetic chemicals and heavily processed ingredients “derived from natural substances”, which no longer resemble anything that can be found in nature – you should choose those products that contain 100% organic ingredients or truly natural ingredients.
- Looking for a Certified Organic seal is one way you can check how environmentally responsible your product is. But there are a few other things you can check for if you want to make sure you are purchasing responsibly.
- Don’t be confused by scientific names: An ingredient listing will always mention the scientific name of an ingredient first, followed by its more well-known name in brackets eg. Tocopherol acetate is the scientific name for vitamin E.
- Packaging: If a product has lots of plastic packaging and packing, chances are the company is not really interested in being environmentally responsible. Look for products that come without excess packaging or, if they do, use a simple recyclable cardboard box.
- Animal testing: Always check for a No Animal Testing claim on products. Companies who use organic ingredients but test on animals are not to be trusted.
Benefits Of Using Certified Organic Products And Processes:
- • Independent third party guarantee of quality and purity of ingredients
- • Safe, clean and potent plant extracts of high vitality
- • Sustainable agriculture that respects, supports and nurtures the complete ecology and energy of our planet
- • Authenticity and integrity of “organic” and “natural” claims
- • Prevention of damage to the environment and humans by poisonous chemicals used in conventional agriculture
I rest assured that with all the certified organic brands we sell on our site I get exactly what I paid for, the highest quality products and absolute integrity about the entire production process.