Now that we’ve covered the range of ‘greenness’ of beauty products (Part 1). Let’s get into the label claims and logos you might find.
I’ve listed what I’ve found to be most popular (at least with the multitude of products in my bathroom – and I have quite a bit), but I can’t say this is a truly complete list. If there is one I’m missing you think should be added, let me know!
Label Claim: Natural
This is the easiest because this means nothing. Really. Any company can call their product natural. Sucks huh? Many large companies have made it a point to take their normal product, add 0.5% of some random herb-based ingredient and market the entire product as natural. Sad, but true. Consider this “greenwashing” and ignore it if you see it. Better yet, flip over the product, look at the ingredients and decide for yourself just how ‘natural’ it is!
Now that doesn’t mean that ALL instances of natural are bogus, it just means that you’ll have to look at the ingredients. Alima Pure calls themselves natural and they most certainly are. But lots of other not-natural companies may use that claim too, it just depends.
Label Claim: Organic
This is tricky because just saying “organic” doesn’t mean much on its own. While I’m sure a company wouldn’t lie about having at least one organic ingredient, unless the product has some other certification (such as some listed below) it may not really be all that organic. Which is a shame because if you see “Organic lotion” it’s easy to think – wow! That lotion is totally organic! And it may not be. It might just have a little bit of organic jojoba oil, etc. Once again, you will need to read the label.
Label Claim: Fair Trade
This one is sort of like organic, that it can vary on what certifying agency they used. Overall, fair trade means that the ingredients (or some of the ingredients) came from farmers that were paid well and had good working conditions. So this doesn’t mean organic or even that the product is all-natural, but do know that the sources of the ingredients come from farmers or workers who are treated well. What good is my organic jojoba oil if the farmer who harvested it is getting paid 25 cents a day and works 70 hours a week? So I like to look at the companies I buy from to make sure they follow fair trade practices.
Logo: Leaping Bunny Certified
The leaping bunny is a great logo for determining if something is cruelty-free. Leaping Bunny has pretty stringent guidelines for companies to use their logo. Which is great for those who want products completely animal-friendly. Companies cannot test on animals or have any single ingredient be tested on animals, plus they have to go through an audit to show they are telling the truth.
However, just because something is cruelty-free doesn’t mean it’s 100% natural-based. Urban Decay is a great example of this. They make makeup that is cruelty-free (although with the recent buy-out from L’Oreal they are now owned by a company that is not), but I wouldn’t call them natural because their products are synthetic. As mentioned in Part 1, synthetic doesn’t necessarily mean toxic, but it doesn’t mean natural either.
The Eco-Cert certification looks at not only the ingredients, but that the product also is made with ingredients from renewable resources, uses eco-friendly manufacturing processes and has eco-friendly packaging. Per their website, ingredients must be absent from “GMO, parabens, phenoxyethanol, nanoparticles, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes, animal-derived ingredients (unless naturally produced by them: milk, honey, etc.).”
What is interesting is that the requirements for their organic label require that 95% of the plant-based ingredients be organic and that 10% of all ingredients must be organic. So theoretically something could be not that organic overall, but if the plant-based ingredients are organic than it would pass. This gets into that synthetic-but-organic realm. Kind of an interesting requirement. Eco-Cert does not meet the requirements for USDA Organic guidelines, so you find it mostly among European companies (like one of my favs, Patyka). Either way, I do appreciate that they require environmentally-conscious manufacturing and production practices and I still look for it – especially for European brands.
Logo: USDA Organic
Companies can call themselves organic if they have a single organic ingredient, but if they are USDA Certified Organic, then they are the real deal. There are a few shades of organic-ness even withing USDA Organic:
100% Organic: means 100% of the ingredients, excluding water and salt, are organic.
Organic: if it says just organic, then at least 95% of the ingredients by weight must be organic, once again excluding water and salt.
Made with Organic Ingredients: products contain at least 70% ingredients but they cannot display the USDA seal.
You can read more of the requirements here if interested.
The USDA actually certifies companies to certify other products to be organic – if that makes sense. Per USDA website: “Organic certification agencies inspect and verify that organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors, and traders are complying with the USDA organic regulations. USDA conducts audits and ensures that the more than 90 organic certification agencies operating around the world are properly certifying organic products.” So companies (like Juice Beauty) do not work directly with USDA, they work with certifying agencies. Like…..
Logo: Oregon Tilth
Oregon Tilth is one of the certification companies USDA uses, just mentioned above. I did find a few companies using their logo separately though, so I wanted to mention. I asked them if the use of their logo requires anything beyond the USDA Organic seal and it does not, it just means they have inspected the producer and verified that the product meets the national requirements.
Logo: Forest Stewardship Council
Per their website, the FSC “enables consumers to choose products that support forest conservation, offer social benefits, and enable the market to provide an incentive for better forest management.” So you may find this on the boxes of products you buy, and that is telling you the paper the box came from was used from a forest that uses “responsible resources.”
Logo: Soil Association Organic
The Soil Association’s standards are similar to Eco-Cert, but a little more strict. They require that 95% of a product’s plant-based ingredients and 20% of the entire product must be organic. They also do not allow any genetically modified ingredients and the processed ingredients included must come from ecologically-sound means.
Logo: PETA’s Cruelty Free and Vegan
PETA has two logos, one is just “Beauty Without Bunnies” and the other is “Cruelty Free and Vegan.” I tend to see the cruelty free and vegan more often so it’s the one I’ve shown. Finding the exact requirements was near impossible on PETA’s website, but I did find that companies must “complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance.” So it doesn’t appear there is any sort of intensive certification for the logo, you just have to say that you don’t and PETA will take your word for it.
Similar to Leaping Bunny though, just because something is not tested on animals does not mean it’s natural or organic, it can still be highly synthetic. Just know no bunnies were harmed in the making of the product :o)
So these are the big ones I see – are there any I missed that you look for?