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How Natural is your natural cosmetic?

August 6, 2011

Well the answer to that question seems to be a rather uncomfortable ‘not very’  according to research carried out by global consultancy Organic Monitor.   So should we be surprised?  I think not.

The Organic Monitor report looked at a whole range of products, some carrying organic certifications, some certified by ‘natural’ cosmetic bodies and some claiming to include ‘naturally’ derived ingredients.  So, in a nutshell a little bit of everything was tested which to my mind is one big clue to why not all brands were very natural.  Another reason is in the definition.

There is no single definition of ‘natural’ in the global cosmetics world. Yes there are some pretty robust certification bodies out there: Ecocert, NaTrue,  the Soil Association and such like but there is no SINGULAR definition or law on how the word ‘natural’ should be used in relation to cosmetics.  Therefore you can see the word ‘natural’ on products that are 99% synthetic but contain 1% natural extracts all the way through to products made with 100% natural ingredients.  So is that wrong?

Well, personally I think it comes down to intent.  If a company or brand is using the word ‘natural’ or the terms ‘made with natural ingredients’ or ‘rich in organic extracts’  to help them either sell more a product or sell a product for a premium price that is the polar opposite of what  the average consumer of natural cosmetics would be after then I would say that they are being misleading.  This is especially true when they call themselves ‘natures little helper’ or ‘organic blisstastic’ or ‘naturally orgazmic’ or whatever and package their syntheticness in a green or brown or beige tree-shaped bottle. This could, in some but not all circumstances be taken up with an office of fair trading or similar.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND

Take this for example, company “BIG WIG’ puts what I like to call ‘natural fairy dust’ into their synthetic formulation because ‘Argan oil’ or ‘Acai berry’ is THE NEXT BIG THING and they want a piece of the band-wagon action.   However, company “BIG WIG” doesn’t hide the fact that their ever-so-nice product ISN’T just plucked from a tree or scooped out of the ocean. Further, they continue on with their corporate un-green logo, packaging, ingredient listing and imagery just updating it slightly to now include a picture of said flower/ herb/ bush/ berry or tree.  A very small picture at that.  What is the harm in that?  It’s just your very favourite (and cheap) synthetic bottle of loveliness with a little organic garnish!  Neat.

So I wouldn’t be getting my knickers in a knot about this one just yet but I do agree that the lack of a solid definition of natural is causing confusion in the cosmetic buyers camp and that is not a good thing.

If in doubt, don’t try it out.

Happy Shoping.

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