Busting Myths: The difference between organic and natural skincare - Part 1

Organic and natural products have been in trend for a long time now. But here’s the kicker, it can get tricky. Switching from chemical to natural, or organic products isn’t always as simple as switching on a light bulb. 
This is because the ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ labels have often been overused in the beauty industry to promote products under the pretense of sustainability or clean skincare. 
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that natural and organic mean the same thing. These labels have often been used interchangeably on products despite their very apparent differences. 
The point is that while natural and organic skincare can be great for overall health and skin. It’s important to dig deep and go beyond the label. 
Attempting to decipher the right skincare product can be mind-boggling. So here’s everything you need to know to help you make an informed choice. 

What does the ‘natural’ tag mean?

A product is generally considered natural when the ingredients are sourced naturally rather than created synthetically. Usually, these products are not well regulated by governing bodies, which means that if a product has just 1% of naturally-sourced ingredients or even a handful of them they can be considered natural. 

What does the ‘organic’ tag mean?

The term organic generally refers to ingredients farmed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs. They are well regulated by governing bodies and generally follow stringent procedures during the development stages. It is no surprise that organic is generally safer and more potent than natural skincare due to its rigorous testing standards. However just because a product claims to be organic it does not mean it is 100% organic. When a product has the ‘Organic’ label it could also mean that just a percentage of the ingredients are organic. Keep in mind that smaller beauty brands may genuinely use organic ingredients in their products but may not have the capital to get certified as it is an expensive affair. However, If you want to ensure that a product is truly organic, it may also help to look for a recognized certification mark. ‘Certified organic’ means that a product has been registered with a regulatory body and meets all the specific requirements of the certifications standards. The process generally involves a brand or manufacturer to ensure compliance with all the necessary measures set up by the certification body. Some of the most common organic certifications include the USDA organic seal, NSF, COSMOS organic, Australian certified organic, Natrue, ECOCERT, etc. 

Top differences between ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ skincare.

Purity: Organic skincare passes rigorous standards of purity than natural skincare. Regulatory bodies around the world such as the ACO (Australian Certified Organic Association) and USDA Organic state that a product must contain between 70-95% of organic ingredients to claim the ‘organic’ label and about 95-100% organically farmed ingredients to be ‘certified organic’ respectively. 
Natural skincare, on the other hand, isn’t well regulated by governing bodies and brands are free to use the word, ‘natural’ without being 100% so. 

Procedures: Natural and organic skincare follow different procedures in the development, and manufacturing stages. Organic skincare is generally formulated with plant-based ingredients and the use of healthy fertile soil. Organic raw materials such as compost and manure are added to the soil to ensure that the ingredient is 100% free from toxins. Natural skincare, on the other hand, is usually formulated with ingredients derived from nature, including plants and minerals. Chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers may be used to enhance the growth of the ingredient if it cannot grow naturally. The method of growing organic ingredients is an earth-friendly farming practice that promotes biodiversity, recycles sources, and at the same time ensures sustainable use of land. It’s safe to say that organic is great for the planet. 

Cost: Organic products are generally much more expensive because of their testing measures, high concentration of active ingredients in the formulation, and various certifications involved. When you factor in how organic ingredients are grown, not only are organic farms typically smaller than conventional ones, but they also take more time to grow due to the lack of chemical or growth hormones used by the farmers. In this regard, time is money. Other costs also include labor expenses and the cost of companion planting for pest control. This is not the case with natural products thus making them significantly cheaper.

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