OMG, Organic Personal Care Products! What Does It Mean?

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You’ve seen the term organic and perhaps the circular, green and white USDA organic seal displayed on food packaging, but how does this translate to your personal care products? In other words, is organic meaningful and how can we guarantee we are getting, say, a premium body wash or mascara?

Like the food items as we discussed in Part I, the term organic should be backed up by a third-party certifying agency. But (why is there always a but?), this can be tricky when it comes to personal care products.

First, the FDA does not oversee the term ‘organic’ as it applies to cosmetics, body care or personal care items. Second, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has no authority over the production and labeling of cosmetics, body care products, and personal care products that are not made up of agricultural ingredients, nor do they make any claims to meeting USDA organic standards.

Still onfused about organic personal care products? Hang on, it’s about to get clearer than a tube of organic waterproof mascara.

Who Can Certify Personal Care, Cosmetics and Body Care?

Cosmetics, body care products, and personal care products can be certified to other, private standards in the United States. Examples might include foreign organic standards, eco-labels, earth friendly, etc. Although these claims can be a great indicator of the products ingredients and quality, the USDA’s National Organic Program doesn’t regulate them.

Yet, if a cosmetic, body care product, or personal care product contains or is made up of agricultural ingredients, and can meet the USDA/NOP organic production, handling, processing and labeling standards, it may be eligible to be certified under the NOP regulations. Once certified, cosmetics, personal care products, and body care products are eligible for the same 4 organic labeling categories as all other agricultural products, based on their organic content and other factor as follows:

The 4 USDA Organic Labeling Categories

  1. “100 percent organic”–Product must contain only organically produced ingredients. Products may display the USDA Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.
  2. “Organic”–Product must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List or non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form. Products may display the USDA Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.
  3. “Made with organic ingredients”–Products contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients and product label can list up to three of the organic ingredients or “food” groups on the principal display panel. For example, body lotion made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and only organic herbs may be labeled either “body lotion made with organic lavender, rosemary, and chamomile,” or “body lotion made with organic herbs.” Products may not display the USDA Organic Seal and must display the certifying agent’s name and address.
  4. “Less than 70 percent organic ingredients”–Products cannot use the term “organic” anywhere on the principal display panel. However, they may identify the specific ingredients that are USDA-certified as being organically produced on the ingredients statement on the information panel. Products may not display the USDA Organic Seal and may not display a certifying agent’s name and address.

You can find local farmers markets or stores that carry organic products near you (US only) by visiting visit Organic.org. Also, locate organic products & services at Organic Pages.com. Here’s to healthy, smudge-free and smear-proof shopping!

Feature image courtesy of Artur Chalyj

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Lisa Beres
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Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home expert, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of The Healthy Home Dream Team and the 30-day online program Change Your Home. Change Your Health. She is the author of the children’s book My Body My House and co-author of Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet, Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes and The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office. Lisa’s TV appearances include "The Rachael Ray Show," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," "TODAY," "The Doctors," "Fox & Friends," "Chelsea Lately" and "The Suzanne Somers Show."
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