What it Means to be Green
With the ever-growing trend to make all things ‘green’, including skincare products, what does it mean when you see that ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ label on your favorite brand? With so many definitions (the FDA does not regulate the use of the term ‘natural’ for example), how do you know the difference between the terms Organic, Natural, Naturally Derived, and Sustainable.
Organic – this term probably has the highest standard of governance of all the ‘green’ terms. Many products contain organic ingredients, but unless the product actually claims the USDA certification “Certified Organic“ given to products made from natural ingredients, it may still contain harmful pesticides and carcinogens. Truly organic products must certify that the ingredients that go into making the formula have all been grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.
Natural – this designation is for formulas made primarily of natural botanical ingredients that are free of petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances or dyes. Take care though, ‘natural’ products can also contact harmful parabens or sulfates, as long as they are naturally derived. So if you want a truly ‘natural’ product, this designation may not be the one you want.
Naturally Derived – this describes products that are made with ingredients made from raw materials from a natural source – such as herbs, roots, essential oils and fruit extracts – but were chemically altered. This means that they were combined with naturally occurring carrier agents, such as preservatives, that are manufactured in a way to preserve the integrity of the product. Naturally derived products should not contain synthetic chemicals.
Sustainable – this term is used when a product claims to be produced in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment. Sustainable means that products are made from renewable resources, like a solar-powered factory, or biodegradable containers, thereby leaving the smallest ‘foot print’ on the environment as possible In fact, the 2012 Sustainable Cosmetics Summit held in New York in May – focused on green formulations, marketing and distribution and sustainable packaging.
The green movement is gaining traction, but continues to lack oversight and monitoring. Forums like the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit are making strides in advancing the formulation and manufacture of quality green skincare products.
The European edition of the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit that took place in Paris in November 2011, focused on greenwashing, false marketing claims, food and cosmetics convergence, the growing use of plant-based feedstock, green formulations and distribution innovations.
- Should You Avoid Parabens? (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Organic Makeup (healthyskinsolutions.com)
- Botanical and Natural Extracts in Cosmetics (healthyskinsolutions.com)