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Organic personal care: Has anything changed since 2002?

For those of us who eat organic food, buying organic beauty products seems like a logical purchase. But are you really getting "organic"? We looked back at an article from 2002 to see if much has changed in the sometimes deceptive and often confusing organic personal care industry.

There’s no doubt that the natural and organic personal care industry is booming. On the consumer side: demand for safer, cleaner products is on the rise. On the manufacturer side, large corporations are removing chemicals of concern and small natural brands are innovating in the space.

But, when it comes to “organic” personal care claims and confusion, has much changed?

We recently came across an article from Delicious Living about organic personal care. Comparing the content from 2002 to an interview I recently did on the same topic reinforced that there is still a need for clarity and regulations when it comes to "organic" personal care products. Take a look at this then-and-now snapshot. 

“Beauty Ingredients Await A Makeover”

What we reported in 2002: Those of us who eat organic products usually want to apply their equivalent to our hair and bodies, too. But because there is currently no official standard for personal care products, labels claiming to be ‘all natural’ or ‘organic’ can be misleading.

“Clearing up personal care label confusion”

What we reported in 2013: The organic personal care industry is still relatively new. At this point, neither the Food and Drug Administration [which regulates the cosmetics industry] nor the U.S. Department of Agriculture [which monitors the use of the term organic in the food industry] has established standards to regulate “the O word” for cosmetic product labels or marketing materials. This means that “organic” personal care could contain no organic content at all. The only exception is in California, where products that make the claim  are required to contain at least 70 percent  organic content.

Organic personal care progress 

However, looking just at the similarities of these two pieces neglects the strides we have made. Today, personal care products are eligible for USDA Organic certification and the newer NSF/ANSI 305 “contains organic ingredients” standard developed specifically for personal care products. So, now when you buy so-called organic personal care products (good news!) they may actually be organic. 

Plus, while neither the USDA nor the FDA regulate the use of “organic” (or “natural” for that matter) on labels, retailers such as Whole Foods are doing their part to require honest labeling. 

The takeaway: we’re making progress. When you seek out organic products, you may very well find what you're looking for. However, you should still question claims and do your research because we still have a ways to go in achieving full transparency. 

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