When buying food or personal care products, natural can conveniently offer you what you want as a consumer: a product that you can feel good about eating/using.
However, is the product truly better for you? And what about for the Earth? Isn't there a set of requirements that a company must meet to keep the "natural" label? It seems not!
In this post, I look at what these terms mean and dig deeper into how the government defines natural and organic so that we don't get fooled by advertising claims.
Organic and Natural what do they mean?
Organic and natural are two terms we hear a lot about these days. We use them when describing food, beauty or home care products. But what do they mean?
Whether it's our diet, skincare regimen, or laundry detergent, we tend to lean towards more natural and organic products for various reasons. When we think about what organic and natural foods mean to us, we instinctively believe that these products are healthier or better for the environment.
This idea comes from an internal belief that natural things are good and artificial things can be harmful.
When it comes to natural skincare and healthy living, many ask why organic and natural is better than "regular"?
Everyone has an opinion about what is better for you. If you grew up in an agricultural community or currently reside near one, you are likely to have heard a lot about the benefits of natural and organic products. If you are unfamiliar with the terms, here are some simple explanations:
Definition for natural: is anything that is not the result of any human interaction (herbs, plants, trees)
Definition of organic: means a plant or other organisms that have been grown without human interaction in a natural environment. Besides regulating which artificial ingredients can be used, there are also ethics regulations, such as fair trade practices.
Natural and Organic Labelling
The terms "natural" and "organic" are relative. Some might think "natural" is precisely the same as "organic," but they mean very different things.
While some people still use "natural" as a free-for-all term for anything not manufactured, organic has a precise definition enforced by law that all products must be made from natural materials (or synthetic materials to which no synthetically produced ingredients are added).
As with many things, the truth is in the middle. Natural products have been used worldwide for generations, but much evidence shows that "natural" products are not always effective or even safe.
Organic and natural products have been trending for quite some time, which makes sense since we have become more conscious of our health and the environment's plight. It also leads to misleading marketing and false claims, which are confusing. It can be tricky to know the difference between a real and not-so-real deal. I will try to shed a little more light on this below.
The organic label indicates that the product contains at least 95 per cent organically produced and processed ingredients. You might also see a brand with a percentage indicating how much the product qualifies as organic. Any product containing less than 70 per cent organic ingredients cannot use the organic label.
These products can only list individual components as organic.
What does the term "all-natural" mean?
The term "all-natural" implies no pesticides, right?
The answer is yes. "All-natural" means that the food/product does not contain artificial additives. This designation depends on the provider's testimony, and the label requires a lot of trust and faith in the brand.
Chemicals and other harmful toxins are not supposed to be used in growing "natural" products, but the practice is unregulated and therefore unaccountable.
What does 'made with organic' mean on a label?
The USDA requires something advertising "made with organic" ingredients must have somewhere between 70 and 94% organic ingredients.
Artificial ingredients are frequently found in household cleaning products, shampoos and moisturisers. A rule of thumb is to avoid products if you cannot quickly understand the ingredients list. Synthetic ingredients such as "poly", "-eth-" or "oxy" are usually a no-go. Phthalates (artificial fragrances), parabens, and sulphates should also be avoided.
However, some ingredients sound scary but are perfectly safe.
Some ingredients, such as peppermint essential oil, are derived from relatively harmless sources.
- Peppermint essential oil is natural and has numerous health benefits, including digestion support and muscle relaxation.
- Salt in its most common form, the chemical sodium chloride,
- Vitellaria paradoxa, is Shea butter, a moisturiser made from the nuts of the African Shea tree. It contains vitamins A, E and F and is used in many skincare products.
Healthy skin can be maintained by taking care of it. It can be tempting to use things that don't cost much or are easy to find, but that doesn't mean they're good for your skin! Often using cheap products with harmful chemicals can make your skin worse.
Alternatively, you can use technology to help you identify the good from the bad by scanning the QR codes.
My approach to sustainable, natural, organic skincare ingredients is to look for brands and products that are:
* palm oil-free
* have ethical ingredient sourcing policies and use thoughtful, eco-friendly packaging.
While it is true that organic and natural skin care products can improve the look and feel of your skin, they are not the same thing.
Choosing wisely will ensure that you aren't paying a premium for a product that is not using certified organic ingredients. Your future skin will thank you!
Now that you know some of the basic concepts and differences behind organic vs natural skincare products, maybe it's time to try some out for yourself.
You can take your pick from Prana+Therapy, which offers a collection of organic beauty, lifestyle & wellbeing products made from quality ingredients.
All Prana+Therapy products are free of animal testing and harsh chemicals harmful to your skin, hair and overall body health.
Head over to the store and check them out!