What does Organic and Natural mean?

What does Organic and Natural mean?

Organic, if you haven’t tried it, you’ve heard of it. It’s been the buzzword on everyone’s lips for the past year or so, but what actually is 'organic'... and why is it so important? And if that’s not enough for us to get our heads round, we’ve got ‘natural’ too and - wait for it - they aren’t the same thing.

With the aim of providing some clarity, we’ve created an introduction to the differences between organic, natural and certified cosmetics.

organic beauty products

So, what is an 'organic' cosmetic?

In the simplest of terms, organic refers to any produce from organic farming that does not allow the use of synthetics fertilisers, genetically modified (GM) ingredients and herbicides. Sounding prettier already right? Organic cosmetics use these organic ingredients (such as calendula or lavender) wherever possible.

To make sure they work and don’t go off too quickly, many cosmetic products need ingredients that don’t come from nature, such as emulsifiers, which blend oil and water.

The use of the term organic is not currently regulated in relation to cosmetics, which means there’s no guarantee that products which say organic on the label only contain ingredients which would meet strict organic standards. Thankfully, independent certification exists – where you see the COSMOS or Soil Association logo, you know that every step of the process to make that product has been robustly checked by impartial experts. Certified organic cosmetics meet strict standards which guarantee that organic ingredients are used where possible, and that those ingredients which cannot be organic are made using green chemistry principles. Translation: no toxins, no nasties.

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Okay, so I understand what organic means, but what about natural?

The natural cosmetics industry (also unregulated) is estimated to be much larger than the organic cosmetics industry. Different views on what natural actually means have led to more greenwashing. ‘Nature inspired’ and ‘from nature’ - sound familiar? These are terms you might have seen or heard before. What’s considered to be natural varies widely depending on whom you ask – with some companies saying that artificial ‘nature identical’ ingredients made in a lab are natural.

To help you identify truly natural products, we offer COSMOS natural certification. We believe that if a product is natural, the majority of ingredients must be from nature. No endangered plant species may be used and no GM ingredients. Any non-natural ingredients which are necessary to keep the product fresh or make it work should meet strict standards and green chemistry principles.

organic beauty products

Why the hype?

The good news is that the organic and natural beauty industry is blooming (pun intended), with a 34.6% increase in the sales of certified cosmetics in the last two years. This means that you beauty evangelists are leading the way for transparency and clarity - and doing it whilst looking awesome! The skin is the body’s largest organ, so it makes sense to care about what we put on it.

There you have it, our whistle-stop guide around certified organic and natural cosmetics. Beauty has many forms; synthetic doesn’t have to be one of them. Want to know how to make the switch from skincare novice to organic expert? Click here to find out what ingredients to look out for and click here to find a list of brands we certify. Give your beauty routine some lovin’, look for our logo and trust the quality and integrity of what you’re putting on your skin.