What is Natural? - Certified Organic and Natural Ingredients
Over the next few days we will be explaining a little about the four main categories that the ingredients in personal care products can be sorted into. If you missed our introductory post, make sure you take a look at that one first. You can read it here.
Certified Organic ingredients
Certified Organic ingredients are 100% natural and contain no chemical residues. This means the ingredients must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers which often do not biodegrade and can be toxic to humans. The processing of the raw ingredient into something that can be used in a personal care product must also comply with Certified Organic regulations.
If a supplier claims their ingredient is Certified Organic, they must be able to provide documentation to a certifier which shows exactly how it was produced from the farm to the end product. Certified Organic status is very difficult and expensive to achieve as there is added farming, production and certification costs which result in the end product being more expensive than a conventional product, so be prepared to pay more. When choosing a personal care product, try to look for Certified Organic ingredients on the label; they are far better for the environment and often for you.
Potentially one of the most confusing words in the cosmetic industry is the word “natural”. A truly natural ingredient is one which undergoes only minimal physical processing, which limits processing methods to cold-pressing, steam distillation and solvent extraction using ethanol, water or vegetable glycerine. A natural ingredient may be grown using conventional or organic farming methods. A natural ingredient should not, however, contain any synthetic chemicals in its structure, nor should it be obtained through the use of synthetic chemicals.
You may notice when you purchase Certified Organic and natural personal care products that the smell or appearance of the product is slightly different each time. This is because things in nature are unique and there will be a slight difference between each harvest. For example, a bottle of Lavender oil purchased one year may smell slightly different to Lavender oil purchased the next year, even if it comes from the same farm!
It must be said, however, that just because an ingredient is Certified Organic or natural, it does not automatically mean that it is safe. Some of these ingredients can cause skin irritation and are unsafe for use during pregnancy or on children, however, it would be impossible to discuss the safety of every ingredient in this post. As with anything you place on your skin, or in your mouth, you should read the ingredient list. If you are unsure about an ingredient, do your own research.
In our next post, we will be discussing ingredients which have been derived from nature.