Understanding the Different Labels for Organic Cosmetics

People are more aware of what goes in to their cosmetic products than ever before these days.

The same explosion that happened with organic food spread elsewhere and now everything has to be organic.

The thing is though cosmetics have different rules than food when it comes to organic labels. Here are some of the organic labels and what they mean.

USDA-organicUSDA Organic Cosmetics Labels

If something is certified organic by the USDA then it’s as organic as it can get.

The National Organic Program means that cosmetics may indeed receive organic certification from the USDA but the rules are incredibly strict. At least 95% of the ingredients in the cosmetic product need to be certified organic. Any less and it won’t receive the certification.

This label also means that the ingredients and process have the same standards as those applied to organic foods. This is difficult with cosmetic products, further enhancing the strength of this kind of label. The USDA takes their standards very seriously so anything that meets them is guaranteed to be good.

NSF-organicNSF “Made with Organic” Label

Because it is so difficult to comply with these USDA regulations and standards a group of manufacturers, retailers, and trade associations called NSF International created the “Made with Organic” and “Contains Organic Ingredients” labels for cosmetics and personal care products.

The regulations are a little less tight and in order to qualify for this label only 70% of the ingredients need to be certified organic. The manufacturer and their product also need to comply with the NSF/ANSI 305 standard but this is less difficult than meeting the standards of the USDA. With all the effort it takes to comply to the USDA most products you come across will have the NSF label rather than the USDA one.

natural-organic“Natural” Cosmetics Label

There are also products out there that, while not made from strictly organic ingredients, are still better for you and the environment. These products can get the “Natural” label. The natural label means that the ingredients used are renewable ingredients that are all natural and that no petroleum products were used to create the cosmetic. A certification for the natural label, called the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products was created in 20008 by the Natural Products association.

If you see a cosmetic with a natural label alongside a Natural Products Associate seal then it means that at least 95% of the ingredients are approved by the NPA. It’s a standard above the natural standard if you will.

There are other labels out there for places outside of the United States that we will cover later.

Each country will have their own standards. For the most part though each country has different labels for products that use organic ingredients and products that are completely organic.

Remember that a product saying it is made with organic ingredients may not be 100% organic. If you find a label you’re unsure about just run it through your favorite search engine and find out all about it.

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