Organic, Natural, Certified Organic - Do You Know The Difference?

As the number of people who are concerned about toxins in our environment grows, more and more skin care companies are jumping on the "natural" and "organic" bandwagon for cosmetics and also for personal and body care products.But what does "natural" and "organic" mean when we see them on a mainstream manufacturers cosmetic or toiletries product label? How do we really know what we are buying is really natural and organic? How do we actually know if the products are safe and non-toxic? What are the natural alternatives to synthetic and mostly toxic chemicals? Is natural and organic really any better for us? What products are truly natural and organic?

Our skin is the largest eliminatory organ in the body. It is a two-way membrane. Toxins are eliminated through the skin via perspiration and absorbed through the skin into the bodyÂ?s circulation system, through hair follicles and sebaceous glands, but not through the sweat glands. One square inch of skin contains approximately 65 hairs, 100 sebaceous glands and 650 sweat glands. Every square inch of you skin is like a thousand open mouths, absorbing into the body most of what is put on it.

Skin care manufacturers are not supposed to claim that their products penetrate the skin. If they did, the products would then be labelled as Â?drugsÂ? and would be governed by much stricter regulations. However, it is now recognised that the skin does absorb many ingredients in skin care preparations. This is both good and bad. Good, because it means our skin can be nourished from the outside with some wonderful ingredients. Bad, because some skin care manufacturers can use harmful ingredients that would never be allowed to be taken orally, but are still absorbed into our system, through our skin. What Does Â?NaturalÂ? and Â?OrganicÂ? Mean On Product Labels? Nowhere does the idea of Â?naturalÂ? or Â?organicÂ? take a more gratuitous bruising than in the skin/body care industry.

If we first take the word "natural" and look it up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary we would find this description of natural thus; Â?existing in, or caused by nature; not artificial; uncultivated; wild existing in natural state; not disguised or alteredÂ?. It seems pretty clear what "natural" actually means to me! Does it to you? However when vested interests get hold of the word natural they put a whole new slant on it. It may seem pretty clear to you and me exactly what we mean by natural but for the marketing men they obviously haven't read the dictionary and start bending the interpretation of natural to suit themselves.

Many labels have long lists of chemical names, some followed by the phrase Â?derived from Â?Â? (some natural substance). This is grossly misleading for consumers who are looking for genuine natural products. When chemicals such as Cocamide DEA or Sodium Hydroxysultaine are followed by the words Â?derived from coconut oilÂ? the consumer is led to believe that these synthetic chemicals must somehow be "natural".

While this may be true in some cases where a natural oil or extract is actually used, it is ultimately irrelevant because what you end up with after the chemical solvent extraction and processing is usually anything but natural or pure. It is just another chemical concoction with some rather awful sounding long names to describe the process the "natural" product went through.Now what about "organic"?

Again if we look in the dictionary for the word organic it is pretty obvious to us what we expect to find as far as safe products in general are concerned. Would you say in the context you are expecting to use or find the term organic that this would be a fair description; "produced and involving production without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals." To me it seems rather elementary that when describing a product as organic that this is exactly what the customer would expect. However to the marketing men this is not what they mean by organic.

Lets delve a little deeper into this play on wordsTo create Cocamide DEA, a foaming agent found in some shampoos, requires the addition of a synthetic chemical and known carcinogen, Diethanolamine Â? DEA, to the coconut oil. It is therefore no longer natural, or safe! If we look at the term Â?organicÂ? on a label, we usually think it means Â?grown and cultivated without the use of chemicalsÂ? as stated above. That is the conclusion most skin care companies would like us to come to when they use the rather loose term organic.

The play on the word organic gets even worse. An increasing number of companies are now claiming to use Â?organicÂ? herbs in their products. But, what about the rest of the ingredients? Are they safe? Are they "natural" or from an "organic" source? Surely there must be an authority that governs the use of the term Â?organicÂ? on labels? The simple answer is NO! So How Do We Know What We Are Buying Is Really Â?NaturalÂ? and Â?Organic"?

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About the author:

Organic Essences was created through a desire to make the public more aware of what our skincare products actually contain and to show how marketing is cleverly used to manipulate public opinion. By featuring research material from reputable organisations in various fields of study we hope to play our part in educating the public to make more informed choices about their health and their family's health.


Author: Sofia Bussetti
Copyright © 2023 Sofia Bussetti. All rights reserved

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