Exposing Popular Brand “Organic” Skincare… Checkout Our Detective Work!

Before finding Miessence in 2009, I had been running in circles trying to find organic skincare and bodycare that was truly…. ORGANIC! Every “organic” product I had tried in the past had either blurred the definition of “organic”, disguised synthetic ingredients and synthetic processing  as naturally derived or was using chemical preservatives. I wanted the peace of mind that came from buying organic food to translate into skincare and bodycare. Why is that so difficult?!

Having researched products since 2007, I now know what to look for… and its a lot easier than having to research each and every ingredient yourself. I want to show you the fast track to what you are looking for today and its as easy as looking for the same seals you recognize on organic food on your skincare or bodycare products.

My intention with this post today is to assist those of you who are researching for yourself. We do not intend to tear down or badmouth other brands but simply state facts by examining labels. The product formulations will be shown, alongside any certifications that the product has earned.

No matter what standard best meets your needs, the bottom line is that every consumer be educated on the options available. If you are looking to avoid endocrine disrupters, reproductive toxins and potential carcinogens completely, then food grade certified organic is the standard you seek. We hope to assist you in identifying products like Miessence who have created products to the food grade standard.

I’d like to thank our special guest Narelle Chenery, founder of Miessence, for her expertise in highlighting the synthetic and non-organic ingredients contained in these product formulations. Narelle has dedicated her career to upholding organic standards in the beauty industry and has created many helpful tools for educating consumers. As founding director and product formulator for Miessence, Narelle has educated and inspired thousands of people around the world on the benefits of certified organic products. Drawing on the ancient wisdom of herbalism and aromatherapy combined with organic food technology, Narelle created the world’s first certified organic skincare and bodycare in 2001. These products use the bounty of Mother Nature in a way that is respectful and sensitive to the planet. Now more than 10 years later Miessence has over 100 certified organic products for beauty, health, home and body sold in over 65 countries worldwide. Thank you Narelle!

Is Arbonne, Nutrogena Naturals, Burts Bees, Yes to Carrots, Pangea Organics, Avalon Organics, NYR Organics, Beyond Organic Skincare and Dr. Haushka Really Organic?

 

For our in-depth brand comparison we will be looking at individual cleansers and a individual moisturizers from each company. We will get into the ingredient and product claim details, but for simplicity’s sake I have posted the recap comparison chart below. If your definition of organic skincare and bodycare is that the product does not contain synthetic chemicals, does not synthetically process their natural ingredients and uses no chemical preservatives, NONE of these brands are truly organic. That is, except for Miessence…

As you can see from the comparison chart below only products that bear food grade seals on the product labels (such as USDA Organic, or Australian Certified Organic) meet the criteria of being untouched my synthetic chemicals, non-GMO and are organically preserved. Literally meeting the purity standards of organic food!

Miessence vs Arbonne, Nutrogena Naturals, Burts Bees, Yes to Carrots, Pangea Organics, Avalon Organics, NYR Organics, Beyond Organic Skincare, Dr. Haushka

Is Arbonne Organic? 

As their website states in the company’s Ever Green Commitment, “at Arbonne we are all about being green – always have been and always will be”  and that “we’re taking pure, safe and beneficial to the next level“. So lets see how those claims stack up against the product ingredient lists.

Is Arbonne Organic

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser ($61.00 for 90ml)

Classification: NOT Organic / Guilty Greenwasher
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Looking at the top third of these ingredients 90-95% of this product is water, synthetic surfectants and ethyoxilated chemical compounds contaminated with known carcinogen 1,4 Dioxane from the manufacturing processes used to create the synthetics.
  • Highlighted are several suspect chemicals that are contaminated ethyoxilated ingredients, synthetic surfectants, chemical emulsifiers and a toxic preservative.

 

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Intenstive Renewal Serum ($81.00 for 30ml)
Classification: NOT Organic / Guilty Greenwasher
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Aside from water, the first ingredient listed, the most prevalent ingredients used in this product are silicone derivatives.
  • Silicone derivatives have shown toxicity to internal organs, they bioaccumulate which means that after each application they are stored in your organs and silicones are endocrine disrupters and neurotoxins.
  • Silicones also do not biodegrade, thus build and pollute our environment.


Click here to see an in-depth 35 minute video presentation from Narelle examining several more Arbonne products
. Take a very close look at the labels of Arbonne’s Pure Vibrance Shampoo, Arbonne Pure Vibrance Conditioner, Arbonne Texturizing Mousse, Arbonne RE9 Advanced Regenerating Toner, Arbonne RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser, RE9 Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum and RE9 Advanced Restorative Day Creme. Afterwards Narelle answers a few questions in the chat box, including the surprising low cost of goods and enormous profit margins on these Arbonne products and she also explains why “derived from” ingredients in a label are always greenwashed synthetics.

 

Is Neutrogena Naturals Organic?

Is Neutrogena Naturals Organic

 

Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser ($8.49 for 6 fl oz)
Classification: NOT Organic / Guilty Greenwasher
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Aside from water, the rest of this product is comprised of synthetic chemicals. Among those listed are synthetic surfectants, synthetic fragrance, synthetic preservatives, and allergens. Just one truly natural ingredient (willow bark extract).
  • No organic ingredients.
  • Confused by the claim 90% naturally derived? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. We would like to help you understand why this claim is misleading at best. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a preservative known to be toxic.
  • Synthetic fragrance is also a red flagged, toxic ingredient to avoid.

 

Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing Moisturizer ($12.99 for 3 fl oz)
Classification: NOT Organic / Guilty Greenwasher
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • After the base ingredient of water, the Dicarpylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Heptyl Undecylenate, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Stearic Acid, Gluconolactone, Benzyl Alcohol, Ehylhexylglycerine are synthetic chemicals, not naturally occurring. Naturally derived, but chemically processed emulsifiers, emollients and humectants.
  • Confused by the claim 90% naturally derived? It does not mean the ingredients are natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a preservative known to be toxic.
  • Synthetic fragrance is also a red flagged, toxic ingredient to avoid.

Is Burts Bees Organic? 

Is burts bees organic

Burts Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream ($8.99 for 6 fl oz)

Classification: NOT Organic / Misleading Natural Claims
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Again, note a base ingredient of water.
  • No organic ingredients.
  • Contains Polysorbate 60 which is an ethyoxilated ingredient contaminated with known carcinogen 1,4 Dioxane from the manufacturing processes used to create the synthetics.
  • Confused by the Burts Bees claim 98.8% natural? It does not mean these ingredient are natural. We would like to help you understand why this claim is misleading at best. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.

Burts Bees Radiance Day Cream ($12.19 for 2 oz)

Classification: NOT Organic / Misleading Natural Claims
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Carefully examining the ingredient list you’ll note synthetic perfume, chlorophenesin and phenoxyethanol, two toxic preservatives, among a list of other synthetic chemicals not allowed in an organic product.
  • No organic ingredients.
  • Confused by the Burts Bees claim 98.2% natural? It does not mean these ingredient are natural. We would like to help you understand why this claim is misleading at best. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.

Is Yes To Carrots Organic? 

Is Yes to Carrots Organic

Yes To Carrots Daily Cream Facial Cleanser ($7.19 for 6 oz)

Classification: NOT Organic / Misleading Natural Claims
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Aside from water, the rest of this product contains synthetic surfectants, synthetic emulsifiers, synthetic fragrance and synthetic preservatives mixed with a short list and small percentage of natural ingredients and one organic ingredient.
  • Confused by the claim naturally derived? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • One certified organic ingredient (Carrot Seed Oil)

Yes To Carrots Daily Intense Hydration Night Cream ($12.99 for 1.7 oz)

Classification: NOT Organic / Misleading Natural Claims
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Aside from water, the rest of this product is synthetic chemicals. Among those listed are synthetic surfectants, synthetic fragrance, synthetic preservatives, and allergens mixed with a short list and small percentage of natural ingredients and six organic ingredients.
  • Confused by the claim naturally derived? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • One natural ingredient (willow bark extract), no organic ingredients.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a toxic preservative and synthetic fragrance is a highly toxic ingredient to avoid.

Is Pangea Organics Really Organic?

is pangea organics really organic

 

Pangea Organics Australian Wild Plum & Willow Facial Cleanser ($30.00 for 4 fl oz)

Classification: NOT Organic /  Substandard Organic Cosmetic Certification
The most concerning synthetic chemical is highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • NSF certification is a US based cosmetic certification that allows an array of synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • The cleansing agent Decyl Glucoside is a more “green” surfactant, but it can be harsh or overcleansing for facial skin.
  • Among those listed are synthetic surfectants, synthetic fragrance, synthetic preservatives, and allergens mixed with a short list and small percentage of natural ingredients and one organic ingredient.
  • Confused by the claim naturally (vegetable) derived as listed on some of the ingredients? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a preservative known to be toxic.

 

Pangea Organics Nigerian Ginger with Lavender & Thyme Facial Cream ($38.00 for 2 fl oz)

Classification: NOT Organic /  Substandard Organic Cosmetic Certification
The most concerning synthetic chemical is highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • NSF certification is a US based cosmetic certification that allows an array of synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • Among those listed are synthetic surfectants, synthetic fragrance, synthetic preservatives, and allergens mixed with a short list and small percentage of natural ingredients and one organic ingredient.
  • Confused by the claim naturally (vegetable) derived as listed on some of the ingredients? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • The facial cream is preserved with alcohol (highlighted) and at high concentrations of over 15% which is very drying to the skin.

 

 

Is Avalon Organics Really Organic? 

Is avalon organics really organic

 Avalon Organics Lavender Luminosity Facial Cleansing Gel ($12.99 for 7 oz)

Classification: NOT Organic /  Substandard Organic Cosmetic Certification
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • NSF certification is a US based cosmetic certification that allows an array of synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • Among those listed are synthetic surfectants, synthetic fragrance, synthetic preservatives, and allergens mixed with a short list and small percentage of natural ingredients and one organic ingredient.
  • Confused by the claim naturally derived? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a preservative known to be toxic.


Avalon Organics Lavender Luminosity Daily Moisturizer ($18.49 for 2 oz)

Classification: NOT Organic /  Substandard Organic Cosmetic Certification
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • NSF certification is a US based cosmetic certification that allows an array of synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • Among those listed are synthetic surfectants, synthetic fragrance, synthetic preservatives, and allergens mixed with a shorter list of natural ingredients and one organic ingredient.
  • Confused by the claim naturally derived? It does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • Sodium Benzoate is a toxic preservative.

Is NYR Organics Really Organic?

is nyr organic really organic

 

 

Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR) Rose Facial Wash ($23.00 for 3.38 fl oz)

Classification: NOT Organic / Substandard Organic Cosmetic Certification
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Soil Association certification is a cosmetic certification that allows an array of synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • The cleanser is synthetic surfectant based (cocamidopropyl betaine), which is an allergen with limited safety data
  • Synthetic chemical preservative (potassium sorbate)


Neal’s Yard Remedies (NYR) Rehydrating Rose Daily Moisture ($42.00 3.38 fl oz)

Classification: NOT Organic / Substandard Organic Cosmetic Certification / Misleading Claims
The most concerning synthetic chemicals are highlighted, although there are many ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Soil Association certification is a cosmetic certification that allows an array of synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • Cetyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, sodium hyaluronate, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate are naturally derived, but synthetically processed emulsifiers and surfectants. Naturally derived does not mean the ingredient is natural. You can read more here Identifying “Semi Natural” Ingredients.
  • Confused by NYR’s claim of 95% organic ingredients? We are as well!!! Although we cannot find details on the Soil Association website, it is our guess that the Soil Association excludes the “allowed” synthetic emulsifiers and preservatives from the 95% calculation and only counts the actual natural plant extracts (not all of the ingredients). So of the plant extract ingredients, 95% are organic ingredients, but that says nothing about the purity of the entire formulation. With synthetics as the 5th and 7th ingredients and 7 more synthetics listed at the end of the ingredient list, its impossible that this formula is 95% organic.

Is Beyond Organic Skincare Really Organic? 

is beyond organic skincare really organic

 

 

Beyond Organic Skincare Detoxifying Cleanser (£27.50 for 50 ml)

Classification:  Lower Percentage Organic Cosmetic Certification

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Natrue is a natural cosmetic certification that does allow synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • This particular product has no synthetic ingredients, but is not certified to organic food standards which means organic claims have not been verified by an organic certifier (USDA organic, Australian Certified Organic).

 

Beyond Organic Skincare Moisturizing Daycream (£27.00 for 30 ml)

Classification: Lower Percentage Organic Cosmetic Certification
There are ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Natrue is a natural cosmetic certification that does allow synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • This moisturizing daycream contains naturally derived but synthetically processed ingredients (cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, cetearyl palmitate) which are prohibited in organic certification (food grade).

 

Is Dr. Haushka Organic? 

is dr haushka organic

 

Dr. Haushka Cleansing Milk ($36.95 for 4.9 oz)

Classification: NOT Organic, but a good natural product
There are ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Natrue is a natural cosmetic certification that allows synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • Dr. Haushka uses alcohol as a preservative. In order to preserve a product with alcohol amounts of 15% alcohol or more must be used in the formulation which can be very drying to the skin. It appears from the ingredient list that this formulation contains even more than 15% alcohol.

 

Dr. Haushka Moisturizing Day Cream ($69.95 for 3.4 fl oz)

Classification: NOT Organic, but a good natural product
There are ingredients in this product that are prohibited in organic certification.

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Natrue is a natural cosmetic certification that allows synthetic surfectants, sulfates, emulsifiers and preservatives.
  • Dr. Haushka uses alcohol as a preservative. In order to preserve a product with alcohol amounts of 15% alcohol or more must be used in the formulation which can be very drying to the skin. It appears from the ingredient list that this formulation contains even more than 15% alcohol.

 

Is Miessence Organic? 

is miessence organic

Miessence Balancing Cleanser ($48.35 for 8.5 fl oz)

Classification: ORGANIC
This product is certified to the highest, most stringent organic certification in existence, which is food grade (USDA Organic, Australian Certified Organic).

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Absolutely no synthetic ingredients or synthetic processing of natural ingredients. Purely 100% organic ingredients as they exist in nature, raw and cold processed, preserved with a proprietary blend of essential oils that varies by product. Made fresh every 30 days and shipped direct to customers.
  • Organic food certification (USDA Organic or Australian Certified Organic) back up the claims with strict regulations and ongoing compliance inspections.

Miessence Rejuvenating Moisturizer ($56.80 for 1.7 fl oz)

Classification: ORGANIC
This product is certified to the highest, most stringent organic certification in existence, which is food grade (USDA Organic, Australian Certified Organic).

Narelle’s Comments:

  • Absolutely no synthetic ingredients or synthetic processing of natural ingredients. Purely 100% organic ingredients as they exist in nature, raw and cold processed, preserved with a proprietary blend of essential oils that varies by product. Made fresh every 30 days and shipped direct to customers.
  • Organic food certification (USDA Organic or Australian Certified Organic) back up the claims with strict regulations and ongoing compliance inspections.

 

Where Are You On Your Own Organic Journey?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post. After years of research I happened upon the world’s first food grade certified organic skincare and bodycare line, Miessence. Immediately I recognized the line as the organic “product oasis” I’d been looking for! Since this skincare bore the seals of organic food (USDA Organic and Australian Certified Organic) I knew that the products had been produced to a standard with which I was familiar. The products are literally pure enough to eat!

Thanks again to Narelle Chenery! As an organic products formulator since the late 1990’s we appreciate your keen eye and fact based expertise!

Narelle Chenery of Miessence

 

Comments

13 Comments

Tenielle - March 23, 2015 9:14 pm

Great reference ! Thanks for sharing.

Heather - April 30, 2015 12:17 am

Some of the companies that are “reviewed” do not actually claim to be organic.
Interesting read on competitors.

Organic Glow - April 30, 2015 6:40 pm

Hey Heather! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I absolutely agree with you that not all of the products we examined market themselves as organic. But many of them imply they are natural/organic through packaging, marketing, etc.

venus - June 9, 2015 11:15 pm

I just think it’s rather curious, not to mention dubious, that you would put proven authentic, organic brands like NYR and Dr. Haushka in the same dodgy global corporate brand category as Burt’s Bees, Neutrogena, and Avalon, etc., using just one or 2 products in one line out of their collective lines of at least one of them, (NYR), in an clumsy effort to set yourself apart from the competition! For you information, the Soil Association applies strict criteria for standards–OVER AND ABOVE the legal requirements! It is considered one of the most stringent independent organic certification bodies anywhere in the WORLD!

Organic Glow - June 10, 2015 6:47 pm

Hi Venus. We wanted to include a range of products that market themselves as organic or else are perceived by consumers to be organic. A facial cleanser and facial moisturizer was chosen from each company… then labels were analyzed. Not sure why you would find that dubious or unfair. If there is another product by NYR that you would like compared against the same category product made by Miessence, I’m happy to do so – just send me a link to the product.

As you mentioned Soil Association is better than some organic cosmetic certifications, but it is no where near as strict as the USDA Organic food grade certification (or Australian Certified Organic). Here is a link to the 2015 Soil Association certification standards http://www.soilassociation.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Os9v5O1YZUs%3d&tabid=353 As you can see, Soil Association allows synthetic processing of natural and organic ingredients, even allowing petrochemicals as reagents in processing (see page 83), Soil allows synthetic preservatives such as phenoxyethanol (see page 79). These chemical manufacturing and preservation practices and ingredients are prohibited by the USDA Organic standard. If the USDA Organic seal appears on skincare, its literally edible!

If you feel that organic skincare should have allowances for a percentage of synthetics then that is your opinion. My definition of “organic” never contains synthetics. I feel that many consumers perceive “certified organic” skincare to be completely free from synthetics, but that is not the case. All of the organic cosmetic certifications (OASIS, EcoCert, NSF, Soil, BDIH) allow various synthetic ingredients, preservatives, processing. If a consumer wants certification that a product is completely free from synthetic ingredients and processing – then the USDA organic food grade standard is the only organic certification that ensures that level of purity.

I searched the NYR website for any USDA Organic certified products and did not find one. Miessence offers over 40 products certified by the USDA Organic and/or ACO Australian Certified organic which holds skincare to the same standards as organic food. No synthetics allowed in manufacturing or as ingredients.

venus - June 12, 2015 2:53 am

Heather, I champion your passion for purity, and I am a fan of Miessence, btw, alongside other wider range, certified organic, holistic brands, (albeit, not many to be found that qualify in the US)–be they 100% non-synthetic, (of which there are few in demand in that category or that qualify to be in it), brands that are ethically sound, transparent, sustainably sourced, fair-trade, etc. with a limited use of synthetics; that said, when it comes to organic certification standards in the US, you lost me–Being that the I thought everyone knew that the USDA has NO personal care standards! Why do you not (appear to) know this? Personal care products with the Usda seal have to be ‘backed into’ standards that were created for FOOD! The ACO may very well hold skincare /personal care to the same standards as organic food, but the USDA does NOT!! How could this be when the USDA standards DEFINITELY DO ALLOW the use of synthetics, including CALCIUM HYDROXIDE, ETHYLENE, AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE, (but not the technical ingredients used in skincare, i.e., emulsifiers, preservatives, etc..); Regardless, comparisons between the USDA, (food standards), and the Soil Association, (personal care standards), ARE MEANINGLESS!
Personally, I prefer to buy a qualified certified organic skin and body care brand that comes in dark glass bottles and jars, because the pigment reduces the light from reaching the contents, helping to protect herbal and aromatherapy properties, thus allowing skincare to be made with fewer preservatives. Some plastic, (PCR), is ok for products that contain less oil. That’s all I wanted to say. I will be waiting for your response.
Thank you!

Organic Glow - June 12, 2015 3:30 pm

Hi Venus

I’m happy to share some resources. The USDA organic food program WILL certify skincare/bodycare as organic food IF the product meets the organic food standards. It is no easy feat to emulsify and preserve products without synthetics. It took Miessence nearly a decade to formulate products that were organic food grade, but they did it in 2001 and have created over 40 products to that standard since. You will see the USDA Organic seal and/or the ACO Australian Certified Organic seal on those products. Both are international organic food standards that these products have met.

If you are skeptical, I encourage you to contact the USDA Organic program to request a copy of the Miessence products that have been certified to bear the seal. The phone number is 202-720-3252 or to request documentation by email through the Freedom Of Information Act email for USDA organic is AMS.FOIA@usda.gov. I also have a copy of the Miessence certificate for skincare from the USDA on my website linked here: http://organicglow.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/0001-Original-CertificateUSDAWeb.jpg

If you want to read more about skincare/bodycare that has been formulated to meet the USDA organic food program standards check out these resources:

USDA Organic Program in Regards to Skincare/Bodycare
http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5068442
As you will read in point #1, the USDA does not regulate organic claims in the skincare and bodycare industry. In point #2 it says the USDA DOES regulate the term organic as it applies to organic agriculture. In point #3 IF a skincare and bodycare product meets those set forth organic food standards, then the skincare can be certified USDA Organic to food standards. The USDA didn’t change the standards to fit skincare/bodycare… but some companies have taken on the challenge of creating skincare/bodycare to meet the organic food standard. Its the best option for companies who are frustrated with the standards of the private organic cosmetic standards. You will see on the last point of this USDA Organic info sheet on skincare that the USDA Organic has no involvement or regulation of the standards of those private organic skincare certifications (BDIH, ECOCert, etc) – separate and different standards.

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5068442

Organic Consumers Association Coming Clean Campaign for Integrity in Beauty Care
https://www.organicconsumers.org/campaigns/coming-clean

Miessence also uses airless vacuum pumps to protect the products from oxidation and contaminents, assisting the different essential oil blends that preserve each product. Raw, no-heat processing also helps protect the delicate properties of the herbs, flowers, oils, etc.

Thank you! (Oh – my name is Alison by the way, not Heather 🙂 )

venus - June 13, 2015 6:45 am

Hi Alison,
So, as you can see, I stated the facts correctly about the USDA having to be ‘backed into’ standards that are created for food! Your point is well taken about ‘some companies’… have opted to take on the challenge…etc.; although, I don’t know of any, other than Miessence, who feel as strongly about the necessity or a compelling need for certified organic brands across the board to do this; or, ‘who feel frustrated with private organic cosmetic standards’. Who are these frustrated companies? As I see it, and as I have found, some of the more recent natural /organic brands I have come in contact with, (who will remain anonymous), feel just the opposite–That is, one brand I reviewed and will soon test, refer their skeptics to a link where they published, a lengthly blog column, that goes into countless reasons why they chose to NOT be certified organic! Certainly Neal’s Yard Remedies–Yes, one of the brands your founder gave 2 decisive thumbs down to, as ‘NOT Organic /Substandard Organic Cosmetic certification’, I can tell you is not ‘frustrated with the standards’ of their private organic cosmetic certifying body! Why would they be, when the SA’s strict criteria applies standards over and above the minimum legal requirements, with a reputation for upholding the ‘gold standard’ certification, and when it is considered one of the MOST stringent organic certification bodies anywhere in the world, which seemingly means little to nothing to your founder, who also does not want to be bothered with knowing anything about the high level of personal integrity of that brand! If she did, she might not take as condescending of an attitude toward them. She might note that NYR is a ‘champion and innovator’ awardee by the Campaign for SAFE cosmetics. I am familiar with most of your footnote links, (references); but thank you just the same…I appreciate you giving me your attention and courtesy.
Best, Venus

Organic Glow - June 22, 2015 8:26 pm

Hi Venus,
Not sure if I would use the phrase “backed into” because that sounds shady or negative…. The USDA organic food standards and regulations were created for our organic food and food products. Skincare and bodycare products that meet those food standards are welcome to be certified. As far as the USDA is concerned, they evaluate the skincare as food…. they didn’t bend the rules or change anything, the skincare is just literally as pure as organic food and is edible. The skincare either meets the food standards or it doesn’t.

The reason some companies were frustrated was because they wanted to stand out amongst all the companies claiming “organic” but whose products included synthetics or synthetic processing. The only options designed for skincare are the private certified organic cosmetic standards (NaTrue, Soil, ECOCert, etc) and ALL of them allow different synthetics and synthetic processing. If you have created a product without any synthetics, how do you prove your claims? The only standard that doesn’t allow any synthetics or synthetic processing is the USDA organic food standard….. so these companies submitted their product for certification just like a food product producer would do.

There is a growing list of companies producing USDA Organic certified skincare and bodycare. As far as I know Miessence and Intelligent Nutrients (former owner of Aveda) have the largest number of products. Some others are Terressentials, Juice Beauty, Dr. Bronner, Nourish, Poofy Organics, Dr. Mercola healthy skin skincare, Alteya, Badger Balm, Beeceuticals, Bumble and Bee, Other companies have smaller ranges and/or have some products that are food grade certified organic amongst other product offerings that are not (like Origins). You just have to look product by product and see which ones bear the seal on their package.

I find it puzzling that any “organic” company who had products that could meet USDA organic standards would have opposition to certifying their products. Why would you “choose” not to be certified organic, when you are selling in the organic market? In my experience, that type of stance signals a red flag. I’ve seen some other MLM companies be served cease and desist notices from the USDA organic for misusing the organic seal and/or making false organic claims. There are other companies who say they “choose not to be certified” because the certification is expensive and they want to pass the savings on to customers. Such statements raised concerns from people who know better (USDA organic certification is about $10,000 – which is hardly anything even for a small company, considering other costs and expenses of doing business). That company is currently under investigation by the FDA for omitting ingredients on their label! It appears they just listed the “organic” ingredients and left off the synthetics or synthetically processed ingredients, which is against the law. We will know for sure as the case progresses.

Unfortunately, there is just too much deception and “greenwashing” in the organic skincare industry. For a consumer to know FOR SURE that a product is organic, its essential to have the years of paperwork the USDA requires for each ingredient, soil conditions, how the ingredients were grown, extracted, processed…. how the product is emulsified and preserved… how the product is packaged… verifying all ingredients are listed, etc. Not to mention, its an ongoing process. The USDA inspects certified organic company’s manufacturing facilities several times a year to renew certifications. It is peace of mind that you are getting what you want and getting what you pay for – a truly organic product with no synthetics, synthetic processing or chemical manufacturing residues.

Ria - April 2, 2016 7:59 pm

We all know bloggers get paid for their biased opinion. While there is some truth to some of the things you mentioned, we both know, THIS IS NOT THE ENTIRE TRUTH. And, you failed to mention that your brand, the face cleanser, contains ,benzyl benzoate, which according to the National Institute Health’s website it defined it as “Benzyl benzoate is relatively nontoxic but may irritate the skin and eyes.” Check out the NIH’s website yourself. As a face cleanser, do I really want to use something that will irritate my eyes? No thanks. I don’t believe in brand bashing, just so you can get some clients. Maybe your research should have been a bit more thorough before you posted. And, while I agree with many comments from Venus, NYR Organic is a British company, so all they need is just the Soil Association certification. Why do they also need a US certification? If not like they need certification for every single country.

Organic Glow - April 2, 2016 11:54 pm

Hi Ria,
You will need to look again. The Miessence facial cleansers do not contain Benzyl Benzoate (nor any other synthetic) http://organicglow.com/products/balancing-cleanser-normalcombination-skin/

I don’t believe in brand bashing either. Simply sharing product ingredient lists and talking about the differences in certification is the point of this post. Many customers are quite confused by the “organic” claims. This post is intended to point out the different levels. The Soil Association certification allows some synthetics, while the USDA organic allows NO synthetics. They are both certifications, but quite different in standards.

Natalucci - February 8, 2017 3:51 am

Hello, loved reading all the information as far as the proclaimed natural company products.

However, would love to know more about other brands (i.e.) Kiss my Face, Jason, Honest Co. , Madefrom Earth,
Weleda, Physicians formula cosmetics, Juice Beauty, Farmaesthetics, Babyganics, Primavera , ilia , Bareminerals, Seventh generation, Shea Moisture, Red Flower Nature, Patyka, Osea, Malie Organics, Jurlique, Theodent toothpaste,
HollyBeth’s Natural Luxury ………
When you can, would love to know about the above product lines…This is what I have bought over the years and want to be sure I am not using harmful chemicals in the cosmetics & skincare products & also oral hygiene .

Thanks so much for your time………looking forward to your research that can help many consumers, to see
if the products we are using are safe for us to continue using the above companies…. Thanks again!

Organic Glow - February 8, 2017 12:56 pm

You are welcome! The easiest way to identify the safest products is to look for the USDA seal on the product. That seal ensures through continuous testing that no chemicals where used in the agriculture, extraction process, processing, or in the product itself as ingredients. Out of your list above I believe Juice Beauty has some USDA organic products. Without a product certification by the USDA Organic, then its just too difficult and time consuming to research the claims made by companies. You can’t even trust labels as I’ve recently seen companies like Ava Anderson get in trouble for omitting ingredients on the labels (only listing the natural ingredients although the product contained other ingredients like chemical fragrances, surfectants and emulsifiers).

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