Is your Make-Up Really Organic?

As you walk down the cosmetics or personal care aisles of any big box store, you will see the “organic” label splashed over a wide array of products. From shampoo to face powder, these so-called organic products advertise their ingredients as pure, natural or organic. While the US Department of Agriculture regulates the food industries use of the organic label, cosmetics are regulated under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA); neither of which include a definition of the word.

To further confuse us, there are different standards in the food versus cosmetic industries. Take shampoo for example, which may be packaged as organic, but could contain chemicals that are prohibited in the agricultural organics market. This confusing, often misleading advertising makes it very difficult for people to make wise decisions.  So what is a consumer to do?

First, be aware that the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) may certify any personal care or cosmetic product meeting its handling, production, processing and labeling criteria. However, they do not regulate the misuse and false advertising that is rampant in the industry. Second, even though products must be safe for consumers, the secret ingredient in some real organic products may be made from an allergenic, such as a plant, which may be unsafe for certain consumers. Finally, since companies are allowed to self-regulate, greed and higher profit margins often take precedence over consumer safety.

If a product is NOP certified there are four categories to look for on any products you use;

1. 100% Organic; must contain 100% organically produced ingredients. Must display certifying agents name and address. Approved to use the USDA Organic Seal

2. Organic: If the products contains at least 95% organically produced ingredients, it can be labeled Organic. Ingredients must be made of approved substances not commercially available in organic form. Must display certifying agents name and address. Approved to use the USDA Organic Seal

3. Made with Organic Materials: Must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Label can list up to three of the organic ingredients on its display but it can not display the USDA Organic Seal. It must contain the name and address of the certifying agent.

4. Products containing less than 70% organic ingredients are prohibited from using the term “organic” on their label. They can list specific ingredients that are USDA certified as organically produced. They can not use the USDA Organic Seal and may not display a certifying agents name and address.

Remember, you are your best advocate for the purchase of any products used in or on your body. It is important that you research cosmetic and personal care goods, and check ingredients. Be careful when using any new products and watch for signs of allergic reaction, such as redness, or hives.

For more information visit the US Food and Drug Administration website at


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