Contributed by Anna Luciano
Do you peruse your local health food beauty section in a daze? Are you desperately trying to figure out whether selecting a "natural" product is better than a "100 vegan" product? Since when did beauty products come stamped with so many logos and symbols?
In the past few years there certainly has been quite a few changes to our labels. Approximately ten years ago I remember seeing my first recyclable symbol in the shape of a little triangle. By the time I figured out what the various numbers within the triangle meant I was bombarded with jumping rabbits, hearts, swirls, circles, and leaves. Enough to make any beauty goddess' head spin! After much research and many hazelnut lattes, here are some definitions that are sure to put some misconceptions to rest.
The USDA Organic was established by the U.S Department of Agriculture. In order for a product to be declared USDA Organic it must contain at least 95% organic ingredients that have been grown with sustainable and eco-friendly methods of agriculture such as crop rotations. These ingredients must also be produced without synthetic pesticides or common fertilizers. The other 5% may include synthetic ingredients that have also been approved by the USDA. This certification guarantees the following; no ingredients have been harvested from endangered trees or plants, no parabens, no petroleum products, no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), no synthetic fragrances and colour, no paraffin, and most importantly - no nanotechnologies. How is this guaranteed? Government inspectors analyze processing and farming methods, preservatives, and seed stock to ensure products are organic. Fines of just over $10,000 are given to any company not adhering to these standards. For further information please see www.usda.gov
Now what about that famous leaping bunny? Well though he is quite cute, there is nothing really cute about the products that he happily is associated with. This just means that a product has been manufactured without animal testing. This also means that the product may contain dyes, unnatural preservatives, and other synthetic materials. For more information please review www.leapingbunny.org
A quite comon logo to grace our beauty products is the Ecocert Organic Label. What does this mean to beauty goddesses? Basically that there are only 10% certified organic ingredients and a minimum of 95% so called "natural" ingredients in these formulations. These products also may contain synthetics from naturally derived preservatives that have been deemed safe. These products like the USDA are inspected by government officials but not nearly as vigorous as the former. The upside is that there are also no synthetic fragrances or colours, no GMOs, no petroleum ,and no parabens. Please see www.ecocert.com/ for further juicy details.
A logo that you are sure to see while walking through the body care section of Whole Foods is Whole Foods Premium Body Care. This was established by Whole Foods and has absolutely no government overview. The products claim to have no synthetic fragrances, glycols, laureth sulfates, parabens, or sodium lauryl. This also symbolizes that there is no animal testing, or polyethylene. Please note that there is no strict adherence to the percentage of organic ingredients or naturally derived ingredients. For further information see www.wholefoodsmarket.com
A romantic looking logo is symbolized by 100% Vegan. With 100% Vegan there is absolutely no government inspectors involved either during or after manufacturing stages. There is also a lack of consensus on the definition of this symbol and when it is used. Some formulas include honey, parabens, milk, and even eggs from free range hens. Not romantic at all! For more information, please feel free to review www.vegan.org
The Australian Certified Organic symbol is another that has been steadily making its way into North American health food beauty departments. It is slightly similar to the USDA Organic compliance in that it must be at least 95% organically produced but with the exception that salt and water is excluded. There are still absolutely no synthetic chemicals and fragrances and no GMOs. This is definitely one to look out for since the majority of the time a formulation containing the ACO is also USDA recognized.
Please see their super informative site at http://www.australianorganic.com.au/
Whew...there sure is a slew out there! I have not even touched upon the German based BDIH or Demeter International. I would love to hear of any other certifications out there that you are seeing so please feel free to drop me a line...I'll be waiting with my hazelnut latte in hand!Please join me next month when I discuss the shocking news on how our babies are born with toxins.
Peace and great health,