It is easy to be confused about what to look for when shopping for organic personal care products because:
• Labeling of all personal care products is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and FDA has yet to regulate “organic” claims. Read FDA's statement on organic cosmetics.
• The National Organic Program (NOP), which regulates organic foods, lacks the legal authority to regulate “organic” label claims of personal care products, except when personal care operations voluntarily choose to meet organic food standards, gain NOP certification, and use the USDA Organic seal.
Here are a few important points to keep in mind as you scan the store shelves for these items:
• Some organic personal care products are certified to the USDA NOP and follow the same labeling guidelines as organic food.
• Some organic personal care products are certified to independent standards with third-party verification of their ingredients and processing methods.
• Some “organic” personal care products are not certified to any standard.
• The use of certified organic ingredients does not mean that the product itself is certified organic.
To learn more about different organic personal care certifications, click here.
This current situation with organic personal care products—multiple organic standards and unclear regulatory authority—is in many ways in the same position as organic food was in the 1990s prior to the implementation of the USDA National Organic Program.
Your best bet for getting what you are looking for? Educate yourself!
A central principal of organic integrity is third-party certification to a transparent standard.
• Look for certified organic personal care products. Some personal care companies are able to formulate products in a way that meets the existing NOP “food standard.” You may see the USDA Organic seal on these products. Other companies are using independent standards created just for personal care products and cosmetics.
• Know what different standards mean and what it takes for a product to meet them.
• Know what ingredients you are looking for in a personal care product, and which ones you are looking to avoid.
When you buy certified organic products and products made with certified organic ingredients, you are supporting a system of sustainable agricultural management that promotes the health of the environment and all its inhabitants.
*Images courtesy of Baby Bear Shop, Natracare and Terressentials.