The organic personal care industry is now valued at US$11bn due to rising demand for natural alternatives to chemically harsh products. This is spelling out big dollars for corporations but how much do we understand the industry and what “organic” and “natural” actually mean?
What does Organic or Natural Mean?
The personal care industry enjoys relaxed regulations and does not enforce a standard in the production, handling, processing or labelling of “organic” and “natural” ingredients in products. In fact, scarily, a product need only contain 1% of an organic ingredient to be labelled as such.
Some governing bodies provide voluntary programs or certifications (such as the USDA National Organic Program) that enable organisations to label their products as “organic”. However, there are usually varying definitions and categories between governing bodies making it very confusing. In essence, there is no single source of truth.
What about My Personal Care? What Ingredients Does That Contain?
Personal care products use chemicals and preservatives because they are cheap and allow products to last for a long time. These chemicals are synthetic and have been linked with health issues such as cancer, skin damage, or allergic reactions. Some ingredients to look out for are parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances and colouring.
Since no real regulation exists, it is essential for consumers to understand what ingredients to look out for (such as those above) and read ingredient labels to understand a product’s level of safety.
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