How Do I Choose the Best Organic Skin Products?

Jennifer Voight

Organic skin products offer consumers concerned about toxins an alternative to conventional skin care products, which might contain harsh synthetic chemicals or be environmentally unsound. In the US, the term “organic” has no legal definition. Many products that market themselves as organic skin care products may not actually be organic. Consumers should always look for products that are certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). As an added caution, consumers should educate themselves on the ingredients in skin products to know whether they have been studied for health risks.

Organic skin products offer people an alternative to conventional skin care products.
Organic skin products offer people an alternative to conventional skin care products.

Many consumers trust organic claims because they tend to be well regulated in food products. With organic skin products, it’s not so simple. As the USDA does not require skin care products to uphold the same organic standards as organic food, there is no guarantee that the ingredients in organic skin products were grown organically, are not chemically produced, or are safe. Some companies voluntarily go through the organic certification process. These products will carry the green USDA-certified organic seal, just as food products do, and are the only way of ensuring that the skin product is organic.

Many skin care products may claim to be organic when they are not.
Many skin care products may claim to be organic when they are not.

The same holds true for the terms “natural” and “herbal.” Legally these terms mean nothing and can be used by any manufacturer who wants to use them. These terms can be used on any product, regardless of what it contains.

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It’s important to remember that just because an ingredient is organic does not mean that it is safe. After checking for the USDA seal, the next best way to make an informed decision about organic skin products is to read the ingredients label. Natural ingredients will sound natural, like “honey” and “green tea.” Consumers should then research these ingredients to find out if they have been scientifically studied, especially when used on the skin.

Synthetic ingredients should be researched in a similar manner and not assumed to be unsafe because they are synthetic. Many synthetic chemically derived ingredients have been used for years in skin care products and have been extensively researched. Some may be harmful in high concentrations but are safe in levels used in skin care products. Many of these ingredients are present in certified organic skin care products.

Still, some argue that synthetic ingredients are not safe in any amounts. One of the safest ways to ensure that skin care products are organic, natural, and safe is to make them at home. There are many recipes for organic skin products on the Internet that require few ingredients, all of which can be purchased certified organic.

In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.
In the U.S., "certified organic" products cannot include genetically modified ingredients.

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