With Organic Beauty Products, Read the Label

USDA Organic Label

Why Read The Label?

So you’re looking for the best possible beauty products for yourself and your family. You may have heard that organic beauty products are higher quality, with fewer toxins, and that may be true. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to read the labels on your favorite beauty products. Keep in mind that the majority of products have different percentages of organic ingredients. For example, “Made with organic ingredients” means that at least 70% of the ingredients are organic. “USDA Certified Organic” means that 95% of the ingredients are organic.
Organic beauty products are allowed to use certain synthetic ingredients, like xanthan gum, which may not be derived from organic sources. Others may contain animal-derived ingredients that you may not favor (e.g. glycerin may be animal or vegetable based), as well as synthetic surfactants and emulsifiers. Being organic does not mean that individuals won’t have allergic reactions, either, so it’s important to know what’s in each organic beauty product.

Why Organic Beauty?

It’s easy to see why it’s important to include organic food choices in our daily diets. The need to avoid pesticides and to support small, local organic and sustainable farming practices are paramount for us as consumers. But organic beauty products are just as important. 60-70% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies. Many substances are absorbed into fat cells, where they can accumulate. The effects of this long-term accumulation is unknown, so why take chances with our health?

What Ingredients Might You Find in Organic Beauty Products?

Even “organic” companies use the term “fragrance” on their ingredient labels, which may leave you wondering what it means. Companies have a lot of leeway to include both artificial and natural fragrance oils, and even known preservatives, under the “fragrance” banner, without having to reveal individual ingredients. Unfortunately, you may have to try out the product to see if you have an allergic reaction or if you are sensitive to its ingredients, as companies are not obligated to divulge their proprietary “fragrance” recipes.

Organic Resources

If you’re researching organic beauty products before buying, many companies post their ingredient lists on their official websites. Amazon.com is another go-to website, as they sell many national brands. If you don’t see an ingredient list posted, you can e-mail the company and request it. For a more hands-on approach, you can stroll through the aisle at your local beauty aisle and photograph product labels with your phone for comparison later. Other resources include the Environmental Working Group website and/or app. The best source by far is Organic Consumers website link page. Here you’ll find USDA certified organic skincare products only. You can also search for organic products at Green People website.


Thebalance.com article on organic certification
USDA article on understanding the organic label
Cosmetic Ingredients webpage
Organic Consumers Association Buying Guide


Author: Lydia