Beauty Ingredients Await A Makeover

Those of us who ingest 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.

Even without federally mandated labeling standards, some personal care manufacturers have long been producing all-natural and organic products. For instance, Dr. Hauschka and Weleda International gather most of their ingredients from bio-dynamic organic gardens scattered throughout Europe and have those ingredients hand-processed on-site.

It took about ten years for standardized labeling on organic foods to make it to food stores. The National Organic Program, which begins next month, establishes that any product labeled "certified organic" applies only to products containing at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Products labeled "made with organic ingredients" must contain a minimum of 70 percent organic ingredients.

A task force of natural product manufacturers, the Personal Care Organic Standards Group, hopes to follow a similar process and timeline for labeling standards on their products. The group recently drafted guidelines on processing and plans to use them as the basis for eventual industry standards. So perhaps within the next decade, we'll feel more confident about slathering on organic shampoos, cosmetics, soaps, and body oils.

—Kristine Merrill