We talked to the super-knowledgeable women behind three eco-chic beauty lines — RMS Beauty, Tata Harper, and Sumbody — to get the real deal on decoding labels and settling the debate on natural vs. organic, once and for all. Read on to get the scoop on just how green your fave products really are.
Know The Terminology
There are a lot of different terms out there related to how eco-friendly a product is, but it can be hard to decipher the legit claims from the BS. Here's a little refresher course on the most common green labels:
Natural: The problem with the word natural is that it's not a term that's regulated, so a brand can combine a boatload of chemical ingredients with one natural oil and slap the term natural on its label. “Honest natural products contain ingredients from plants and nature and are minimally processed,” says Rose-Marie Swift, founder of RMS Beauty. It can be hard to determine just how unprocessed an ingredient is, so when in doubt, look for labels from the Natural Products Association. French certifying body Eco-Cert also breaks down what percentage of a product is natural, and what is organic.
Organic: “Organic products take ‘natural’ several steps further as they are made with non-GMO ingredients that have been grown, raised, harvested, manufactured, and preserved without chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, antibiotics – giving you products with fewer contaminants,” explains Rose-Marie. Certification bodies are more stringent with organic products, so look for seals of approval from Eco-Cert, the USDA, the Soil Association, and the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Just be careful to pay attention to the wording: Something that says "made with organic ingredients," just means that 70% of the ingredients in that product are certified organic — it doesn't guarantee the whole of the product is free of parabens or chemicals. For the purest products, look for brands that are certified 100% organic, as that means all of the ingredients in it are pure, and it involves no chemical fillers.
Biodynamic: This is an agricultural method that takes a more holistic approach to the soil, and is considered by some to be the very pinnacle of environmentally-conscious and pure growth practices. Like organic farmers, those who practice biodynamic farming abstain from using chemical pesticides, but they view the plants, soil, and animals as a whole — a self-sustaining system that interacts naturally to create the pure, untouched ingredients. Biodynamic brands are certified by the Demeter Association.
Photo: Courtesy of Tata Harper
- 1 of 2