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The difference between Natural and Organic Beauty Products

Posted Dec 17 2008 8:52am

Let’s face it, you’re here because you love product. You love textures, smells, primping, lathering, bubbling, smoothing, lifting, firming, hydrating, softening, all-round good feeling, quality products. Me too.


Of late, buzz words and trends have started to come up and make us question our favorite indulgences (or necessities): organic, green, natural. It can be confusing as to exactly what these terms mean when they’re being applied to the beauty industry, if anything at all. Is your moisturizer going to mutate you!?! This is a serious issue, and also extremely complicated. Let’s break it down.

 What do they mean by Natural? 

This is very non-specific. Overall it implies that one, some or all of the ingredients used are unprocessed and, well…natural. Fruits, sugars, vitamins and minerals are natural and proven effective, but it doesn’t mean they were grown or gathered organically. All this means is the ingredients come from nature, but could be mixed in with synthetics.

 What do they mean by Organic? 

According to theOrganic Trade Association of Canada, organically sourced ingredients must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, or irradiation. On top of this they are minimally processed without artificial ingredients or preservatives. Fewer toxins are released into the environment, and are less likely to make it into our food and products.

 Do Organic ingredients make better, more effective products? 

Most products that contain “organic” ingredients have never been through clinical trials, so they’re effectiveness hasn’t been proven. However they do contain higher levels of naturally occurring nutrients and anti-oxidants, making them great for younger skins. Their strengths lie in gentle exfoliants and keeping young skin bright and healthy. Natural ingredients may still contain naturally occurring irritants though, so always read the labels and be aware of sensitivities.


Skin care originated with natural sources. Over time, those sources have been tested and researched; irritants have been removed, active chemicals/enzymes have been isolated or synthetically produced to become the ingredients we’re familiar with today. Our skin acts as a barrier and doesn’t absorb everything we put on it, about 60%. Technology has advanced for non-organic brands to adjust molecule size of the active ingredients, ensuring absorption into the skin. Sensitivities can still occur in these lines as well, so pay attention to your skin.

   How do you know if it’s actually Organic? 

This is the interesting question. Currently the USDA has strict regulations in place for organically grown food, but hasn’t quite caught up to the beauty industry. There are multiple third party organizations that can certify organic. These include but are not limited to:


·       Ecocert(Canada)

·       Natural Products Association(US)

·       National Standard of Canada for Organic Agriculture(Canada)

·       USDA National Organic Program(US)


“Organic” labeling is an extremely gray area and compliance is completely voluntary, allowing companies to claim anything they like and saturating the market with trendy yet misleadingly labeled products.


These are the most up-to-dateguidelinesI was able to find at this time.


·       Products that claim “ 100% Organic ” can contain only organically produced ingredients, not including water (which can be upwards of 70% of the product). These can display the USDA Organic Seal

·       Products labeled “Organic” must contain 95% organically produced ingredients

·       Products with 70-94% organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three ingredients on a display panel or post the percentage

·       Products with less than 70% organic ingredients may not even use the term “organic” on displays; only list the ingredients on the label. This means that products with at least one organic ingredient used in large quantities can be labeled “organic,” regardless of the other ingredients used in them.

 Small cosmetic manufacturers that sell less than $5,000 a year in organic products are exempt from certification.   They can label their products organic if they follow the standards, but they cannot display the USDA Organic Seal. Like anything else, it’s Buyer Beware. There are a lot of great skincare lines out there, organic or not. If you find you are concerned about certain ingredients, educate yourself and look for products you are comfortable using. Often when an ingredient starts getting a little bit of negative attention (ahem….parabens….but that’s a whole other topic) it gets blown completely out of proportion with only half of the information being talked about. So continue to love products! Indulge and explore all the great things organic and natural can provide! Ultimately it comes down to you and your skin. Are you seeing the results you’re paying to get? Do you feel beautiful?  Spa Boutique is currently researching Natural and Organic lines to bring to you. Visit  or our Facebook page and post your favorites and we’ll definitely look into it!
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