Updated: Dec 30, 2022
The cosmetic and personal care industry is saturated with products that claim to be natural, all-natural or organic, but what does this really mean?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the term natural is the same as all-natural and it means a product that contains no synthetic or artificial ingredients (including colors). Now this is debatable because there are some synthetic ingredients such as Epsom salts that are made in a lab and chemical make-up is identical to those in nature. This happens when a natural ingredient is not sustainable, dangerous or difficult to harvest or there just isn't very much available naturally. Any product claiming to be organic must be certified as such, undergoing a rigorous inspection of their production methods to ensure compliance.
The Natural Ingredient Resource Center (NIRC) states:
100% Natural/All Natural
The NIRC guidelines are that products labeled as “100 percent Natural” or “All Natural” can only contain ingredients that fit the NIRC criteria for natural ingredients.
The NIRC guidelines are that in order for products to be labeled as “Natural,” 95% of the ingredients must fit the NIRC criteria for natural ingredients. The remaining 5% may come from ingredients that do not meet the NIRC Criteria for natural, and which DO NOT include synthetic fragrances, artificial colors or ingredients from petrochemicals. The toxicity of each ingredient must be minimal. All percentages are based upon weight.
Made with Natural Ingredients/Made from Natural Ingredients
Products labeled as “Made with/from Natural Ingredients” must contain at least 70% natural ingredients that meet the NIRC Criteria. The remaining 30% may come from ingredients that do not meet the NIRC Criteria for natural, however, products that include synthetic fragrances, artificial colors or ingredients from petrochemicals MAY NOT display the NIRC “Seal”. All percentages are based upon weight.
Now that we've learned the difference, let's take a look at some myths vs. facts.
1. Natural/Organic products are hypo-allergenic and will not irritate sensitive skin.
MYTH. Synthetic products as well as natural/organic products can be irritating to the skin or cause negative reactions. It is always very important to read the ingredients of every product and perform a patch test to ensure it is safe for your skin.
2. Water is organic and therefore good for my skin.
MYTH. Water is not considered organic due to its processing and filtration. Since all water goes through some sort of unnatural chemical process for 'safety,' whether it can be considered all-natural is also debatable.
3. Natural/organic products have no preservatives.
MYTH. Products that claim to be natural/organic and are ethically made tend to use natural preservatives such as Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid and other natural ingredients that stabilize the product. Other natural ingredients such as aloe, coconut oil and many many more are also naturally anti-bacterial and/or anti-fungal so they don't grow mold or harmful bacteria. Something to watch for are those products that contain water. Remember, water is a breeding ground for bacteria, so preservatives are necessary for any product using water.
4. There is no proof natural/organic products are better than synthetics.
FACT & MYTH. There is a lot of information, testimonials and studies available that discuss the effectiveness of natural/organic ingredients. There however, is not much on the effectiveness of those ingredients when blended together. It is best to determine what is right for you and your skin.
5. Mica is natural but dangerous and not ethically sourced.
FACT. Mica is a natural mineral; however, it is usually found to have heavy metals, arsenic and other toxins that are harmful, yet the FDA states the levels are too low to effect human health. Mica is also harvested predominantly using child labor and unsafe working conditions. This is why most cosmetics choose the synthetic version of mica and therefore can no longer claim to be all-natural.
B&W Apothecary strives to be open and transparent about all ingredients in our products. Some products are all-natural, some are only natural, but all are formulated ethically and with care to provide what we believe will nourish and improve your skin. We hope this information helps educate you on choosing the best product for your skin.