Natural vs. Organic
Natural vs. Organic formulas
Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the impact of their actions—what they put out in the world and into their bodies—and they’re craving cleaner options. But the jargon-filled product landscape can leave them confused and skeptical. “Natural”, “organic”, “plant-based”, “cruelty-free”… Alluring stamps of eco-approval are at every turn.
So are these just buzzwords, or actual benefits? And how can brands respond genuinely, and consumers know what they’re getting?
First, let’s break down the two heavy-hitters:
A “natural” cosmetic product must contain at least 95% natural (raw ingredients found in nature, or those physically/chemically transformed using authorized processes). Brands can certify their products via a recognized labeling organization, or freely claim the percentage of natural ingredients in their formula.
An organic cosmetic product is defined its components: their quality (mainly natural ingredients), origins (organically farmed ingredients) and concentrations (%). In short, it contains “purer” ingredients and more of them. For a brand to claim a product is “organic,” they must be certified by a label.
At least in France.
But natural, organic, and other certifications vary from one country to another. The certifying organizations can also be public or private, all have their own rules, and some require brands to pay for their seal of approval. Enough to give conscious customers headaches.
Truly delivering on the environment-friendly front requires clarity and transparency, but also a holistic vision. In Europe, national organic labeling organizations decided to join forces to cut down on label confusion by creating COSMOS. The organization established Europe-wide standards for both ingredients (no GMOs, for example) but also for packaging (only recyclable materials). It even goes a step further and calls for CSR initiatives, like reducing the amount of packaging used and opting for recycled materials when possible. And needless to say, we came prepared.
After all, going green is admirable. But greenwashing is harmful.