When shopping for beauty products, it can be easy to get confused with all the various terms - safe, clean, eco, non-toxic, natural, organic....the list goes on, but what do they all mean? In this blog post, we explore the difference between "natural" and "organic" - two terms that are often used interchangeably, but actually are quite distinct.
What is "Natural" Beauty?
This might be one of the most overused descriptions in beauty (inspired by nature, naturally active, plant-based.....) and it refers to ingredients that are sourced from a natural origin. There are a lot of differing views on what makes a product natural and it is worth noting that often non-natural ingredients are needed to ensure the product doesn't go off to quickly. Therefore, synthetic doesn't always equate to being bad as longer shelf live of products can also mean less waste.
One of the biggest issues with the term "natural" is that it is totally unregulated and therefore a product can be described as natural even if it has just 1% naturally-sourced, plant-based or mineral ingredients. That is why you see it on just about anything, slightly scented body wash with Lavender = Natural!
The best way to know exactly what you are buying is to check the ingredient list. In a natural product, you'd expect the botanicals up top and any synthetic ingredients at the bottom. It is worth noting that some naturally occurring ingredients might sound synthetic. Sodium chloride is just sea salt and citric acid is a compound found in lemons and other citrus fruits.
To truly understand if a product is natural, you can search for COSMOS natural certification. This will ensure that the majority of ingredients are from nature, no endangered plant species have been used and no GM ingredients. Any non-natural ingredients which are used to keep the product fresh would also have to meet strict standards and green chemistry principles.
What is Organic Beauty?
An organic beauty product has ingredients that have been grown using organic farming methods. Organic farming does not allow the use of synthetic fertilisers, genetically modified ingredients and herbicides.
Products only need to contain a minuscule percentage of organic ingredients to label themselves at organic. Independent certification exists - where you see the COSMOS or Soil Association Logo, you can rest assured that every step of the process to make the product has been checked by experts.
One other important thing to note is that both these certifications are expensive for brands to receive and therefore just because a brand isn't certified doesn't mean they are not using organic ingredients. So you guesses it, it's always worth checking the ingredient list as a brand will identify which ingredients have been sourced via organic farming methods.