There are so many buzzwords floating around in the marketing world today: natural, eco-friendly, organic, cruelty-free, etc. It can be hard to figure out which words actually mean anything, whether it's skincare or groceries.
Switching to natural skincare is truly doing your skin a favor, but what about organic?
You might be wondering if there's even a difference between the two or whether it's just another marketing ploy. Turns out, there is actually a difference between natural and organic- and it's a big one.
Here's more about that, plus the benefits of going organic for your skin.
Your Skin Matters
It's easy to think that organic and chemical-free is important when it comes to what goes in your body. And that's true, but what you put on your skin may end up inside your body as well.
Skin is our largest organ, and it's estimated that about 60% of what we put on it gets absorbed into our bodies. (1)
There are several factors involved in whether something will be absorbed past the protective layers of your skin or not. Molecule size, how long something is in contact with your skin, and whether the product is oil or water based all factor in.
However, you definitely don't want harmful chemicals getting absorbed into your body. That's just as harmful as eating them and potentially more so because they go into your bloodstream instead of passing through your digestion.
Natural Doesn't Mean Chemical-Free
So why aren't "natural" skincare products good enough?
The idea behind natural products is that the ingredients are sourced straight from nature in their purest form. At least, that's what most consumers imagine when they buy a product labeled "all-natural".
Unfortunately, there are very few regulations about what can be labeled natural and what can't be. You can't be positive a product really has natural ingredients without doing a lot of research.
A second point is that even if a skincare cream (for example) really does come from natural sources, the plants that went into it might have been sprayed with unnatural and potentially toxic pesticides.
Chemicals Really Are a Concern
There will always be those who think that concern over toxins and chemical is much ado about nothing, but it's not. Not all synthetic chemicals have research to prove they are harmful, but many do have legitimate safety concerns.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has currently banned only 11 cosmetic ingredients due to safety concerns. The European Union has banned over 1000. (2)
Common skincare ingredients like parabens and phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, birth defects, and breast cancer. Other ingredients (especially fragrances and SLS) can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. (3)(4)
And there's more: The pesticides that might have been used on plant-based ingredients can be harmful to both the workers who spray them and your health. (5)
Organic is a Guarantee
A USDA certified organic product is one of the few guarantees you have that something is actually natural and chemical free.
Farms have to go through a strict certification process to be able to label and sell what they grow as organic. Skincare product makers and sellers also have to have documentation to prove that the ingredients in their products are in fact certified organic.
This gives you a way to know that chemicals you don't want aren't in your product without just trusting an "all-natural" label.
Any products that are organic are by definition non-GMO. (GMO stands for genetically modified organism, by the way.) If this is something you care about, organic and non-GMO Project Verified skincare products are the best way to avoid GMOs.
Does non-GMO really matter when it comes to skincare?
Many natural skincare ingredients don't have a GMO version currently being grown, but a few important ones do. For example, vitamin E is a common ingredient in lotions and creams. The natural version is often derived from soy, which is one of the biggest GMO crops.
Better for the Environment
We often think about organic/non-organic in terms of which is better for us. But organic has a lot to do with the environment as well.
Plant life sustains all of us. Without it, we'd all be dead. Healthy, chemical-free soil and plants are vital to humans, animals, and a happy environment. Unfortunately, soil depletion and chemicals being widely used in farming are causing destruction, which is bad news for us all.
Using organic skincare products is one way of supporting the green world around you.
Tips for Choosing Organic Skincare
Of course, there are a few tips and precautions to keep in mind if you're ready to search for organic products.
- Make sure products are USDA certified- Companies can put the word "organic" on the label for a product, but it doesn't count unless it's officially certified. Look for the official green and white "USDA Organic" label before buying. Avoid vague and general claims like "environmentally friendly" unless there's something to back it up.
- Organic doesn't guarantee effectiveness- Just having organic ingredients doesn't make a product amazing. To be effective, it still needs to be formulated by someone who knows what they're doing, and it needs to do what it says. Organic is great but also look for companies with good reputations and/or real 4 or 5 star customer reviews.
- Organic doesn't guarantee non-allergenic- Using organic skincare products puts you at less risk for having an allergic reaction to chemicals or synthetic fragrances, but you can still be allergic to natural ingredients (just like some people are allergic to strawberries or peanuts). Always do a test patch with new products if you have sensitive skin.
- Give it time- Because organic skincare products really do use natural and plant-based ingredients, they may take time to show their full effectiveness. Synthetic chemicals in skincare products often have the purpose of producing a desired effect immediately (like reducing wrinkles). But they can actually weaken skin over time. Nature works more in sync with your skin and body but often at a slower pace than what we're used to.
Are You In?
If you're ready to opt into organic skincare, don't feel like you have to make the change overnight. Of course, you can, but often it's easier to switch out products one at a time so that you can find ones you really like and that work for your skin.
At Euphoric Herbals, we're serious about using organic (and natural) ingredients in all our products. We believe that's the best thing for humans and the planet alike. And we think that our products should do what they say they do- not just have a fancy organic label.