According to the dictionary, “organic” means anything of animal or vegetable origin, using no pesticides or chemicals. Until the 1930s, the term “organic” was rarely used until popularized by Lord Northbourne who wrote about “organic farming” in his book. Until recently, “organic” spoke to the method by which meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables were grown. It wasn’t until the “Green Revolution” that “organic” went mainstream and opened up new markets for today’s discerning consumer looking for quality, value, safety and sustainability. The cosmetics industry followed suit, offering organic as an alternative to what are often chemically-produced make up and other personal care products.
Organic and Cosmetics
100% Organic. Natural. Nature’s Made. Ethically-Sourced. Made with Organic Materials. Made from Natural Ingredients. Made with Organic Ingredients. Eco-Friendly. You see these labels all the time but what do they really mean? Which cosmetics are really organic?
Surprisingly, no uniform regulatory standard exists worldwide for personal care products. Consumers, then, have pretty much been on their own when buying organic make up and cosmetics. Fortunately, this is changing and several groups and organizations are taking the lead to make labeling accurate and understandable to the consumer today.
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program allows companies to label cosmetics “organic” if they meet certain criteria. Cosmetics labeled “100 percent organic” must contain organically-produced ingredients and processing aids. Products must contain at least 95 percent organically-produced ingredients. “100 percent organic” and “organic” products may display these terms and the percentage of organic content on their display panel. The USDA seal and the seal or mark of the certifying agents may appear on product packages and in advertising.
USDA also allows companies to use the phrase, “Made with organic ingredients,” and list up to three ingredients or food groups on the display panel if products contain at least 70 percent organic content. The percentage of organic content and the certifying agent seal or mark may be also be printed on the display panel. But, the USDA seal may not be placed on the packaging. Products labeled “organic” must identify each organically-produced ingredient on the information panel. The name of the certifying agent of the final product must be displayed as well. Listing the address of the certifying agent is optional.
These distinctions are important because cosmetics such as those made by Physicians Formula®, which are high quality, easy available, formulated for sensitive skin, hypoallergenic, fragrance- and PABA-free, may not be certified “organic.” Rather, only some Physicians Formula® products – not all – are legitimately “organic.” Good products, yes. Organic, not all of them.
By comparison, Origins is one of the first major cosmetic brands to refuse animal testing. No animal-based ingredients are used in its products. Origins relies on natural & certified organic ingredients and 100% natural essential oils. Origins Organics™ is the first full product line of upscale skin, body and hair care products to be certified by the USDA’s National Organic Program. These products are developed using chemical-free ingredients. Origins can legitimately call their product lines “organic.”
Certified-Organic and Organic Retailers
Savvy consumers will want to look for products that bear the seal of the USDA’s program or that of non-profit or for-profit organizations that offer organic standards, testing and other certifications. Among the ones to watch for:
USDA National Organic Program (NOP)
National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. NOP also accredits the certifying agents who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards.
Non-profit, NGO for standards development, product certification, education, and risk-management for public health, welfare and safety.
Premium Body Care, Whole Foods Market
First private standard for personal care products created by a major retailer in the U.S. Seal appears on products that meet a strict set of criteria for safety, efficacy, environmental impact and labeling. Products must demonstrate botanically derived ingredients, minimal processing, low environmental impact, and accurate labeling for safety purposes.
Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS)
Non-profit, trade association of leading companies such as Aveda, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Origins, Perfect Organics, Suki, among others, that developed the only “industry consensus” standard for Organic Production for Health and Beauty Products. Standard guides manufacturers in the use of organic ingredients, providing incentives for processes resulting in “organic” and/or “sustainable” finished goods.
International Interest Grouping of Natural & Organic Cosmetics manufacturers who aim to safeguard the highest standards for natural cosmetics and their ingredients through certification process of European producers and related companies. Na Tru is petitioning to become an international non-profit.
Group developing a cosmetic s organic and natural standard that will cover European producers and related companies.
National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA)
Formed in 1986, Australia’s leading organic certifier, providing quality, cost efficient organic certification services. With operations in Australia and overseas, company provides certification and inspection services, facilitating market access throughout the world for NASAA certified organic product.
There are any number of online and “bricks and mortar” retailers of organic make up and cosmetics. They comprise your organic marketplace and may help consumers identify organic make up and cosmetic lines. Among them:
First beauty retailer in the world to focus exclusively on organics. Thousands of products available. To be listed and sold on Saffron Rouge, product/line must have at least one organic body care certification, or provide sufficient evidence of certified organic content.
The Organic Pharmacy
First and only pharmacy in the world dedicated to health and beauty using organic products and treatments. Fully registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Specializes in herbs, homeopathy and organic skincare.
CARE by Stella McCartney.
CARE cosmetic products adhere to strict production standards, every step of the way. Site and New York City boutique feature skin care products with certified organic active ingredients. Stores are “green” with 100 percent biodegradable shopping bags. Packaging is recyclable as well. High quality, thoughtfully-produced products. What else would you expect from Stella?
Glimpse is the first green and toxic free skin care line that uses the antioxidant power of the mangosteen fruit. Glimpse products contain no synthetics, fillers, and fragrances. Xango is partner in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which assures consumers that Glimpse is chemical-free.
Top 10 Must-Have Organic Makeup Products
Want to look good and save the world? Want to take the chemicals out of your beauty routine? Check out these Top Ten, Must-Have Organic Cosmetics:
Toning Floral Water
Stella McCartney CARE
What can you say about a product that you can buy online or in the Stella McCartney Boutique in New York City? Fabulous! This incredible toner soothes the skin and puts the fire out. Made of green tea, linden blossom extract, and cornflower, this toner is loaded with antioxidants. Perfect for sensitive skin.
Daily Moisturizer/Anti Aging
Ole Henriksen Three Little Wonders
Price: From $70 to $101
Three hot products in one cool package. Truth Serum-Collagen Booster, Sheer Transformation-Renewing Creme, and Invigorating Night Gel-Firming Treatment. Chemical-free, fantastic results. Try it!
Carrot Butter Cleanser
Price – $59.90
You have to try this skin cleanser. It’s super yummy, and packed with antioxidants. Gently removes grime, dirt, pollution, and make up. Contains Shea & cocoa butter to leave your skin incredibly smooth. Lavender, chamomile, and other natural herbs for a wonderful result. For all skin types.
I-can’t-believe-it’s-organic! Great concealer, great product line. Available in seven different shades. Long lasting, oil-free. Ophthalmologist tested. A “must have” in your make up kit. Use it and forget it.
Stay Tuned™ Balancing face makeup
Origins products are high quality and easily available, in stores, boutiques, and online. Natural & Certified organic ingredients. 100% natural essential oils. Available in 18 different shades. Great for several different skin types. Contains Chamomile, Geranium, Bergamot and Spearmint, need we say more?
Plant Love Baked Illuminator
Isn’t this a pretty combination product of blush, bronzer, and highlighter in one? Check it out, three shades for over-all glow. Chemical free, multiple shades available. You’ll be ready for work and play.
SEPHORA PURE Natural 7-Color Palette
Handy, make-up palette with six striking eye shadows and blush. Fantastic colors, try them on for day and evening wear. High quality, lasting color, chemical free, and organic. If you like variety, check this product out.
Mineral-based pencil that goes on super easy and stays fresh all day. Contains extracts of Neem, Black Tea and Euphrasia which, reportedly, strengthen eye lashes at the root. Available in fabulous colors, Dark Blue, Soft Grey, Shimmering grey-green, Soft Brown, and, basic Black. Can’t get enough eye liner? Check this product out.
Organic Moisturizing Mascara
Dry formula with staying power and organic ingredients. Has lash building properties, packed with Vitamin B5 (Panthenol), Nettle and even Horsetail. Available in 3 luscious colors: black, blue, brown.
Put on the Ritz with this lip gloss. You’re ready to go, go, go! Contains Mango butter, Sea Buckthorn fruit oil and Apricot kernel oil. Available in 4 vibrant hues, sure to turn heads. Rose quartz (01) and ruby (04) are my favorites.
Bonus Round: More Organic Products for Everyday Use
Want to keep going? Here are some additional items, sure to become “must-haves” in your make up kit.
99 percent natural, silicone-free and antioxidant-rich, this is a must-have for today’s career woman. Loaded with skin-soothing botanicals and Vitamin E, this toner minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, and even reduces pore size. Dermatalogically-tested, great for sensitive skin.
Deep Pore Foaming Cleanser
Look out: once you use this cleanser, you’ll not want to stop. Gently removes dirt, makeup and airborne pollutants, Ideal for all skin types, especially sensitive, oily and mature skin types. Contains apples and Aloe Vera. Walk, don’t run, to find this product on your store shelves or via online retailer.
Witch Hazel (Hammamelis Virginia)
In these financially strapped times, a simple solution of witch hazel may be just the thing you need to keep handy in your make up kit. Natural astringent, great for toning face. Available online and at your local pharmacy. Budget-friendly. Great for all skin types.
TARTE ReCreate™ Anti-Aging Foundation with Wrinkle Rewind™ Technology SPF 15
This is really a great product for a mature woman who may be looking for that perfect foundation with anti-aging properties. Skin will look firm, tone and great. Organic, with SPF 15 UVA/ UVB Broad Spectrum protection. Handy, pump applicator.
Hot weather or HVAC got you down? Try this lip balm to moisturize and protect your lips. Contains vitamins and Shea butter for a yummy, restorative quality. Organic, chemical free. You’ll want to stock up on this product.
USDA Fact Sheet on Cosmetics, Body Care Products, andPersonal Care Products
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary, Houghton Mifflin Company
See Lord Nothborne and “organic farming” in
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics