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Organic beauty products

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Related terms
Background
Theory/evidence
Safety
Author information
Bibliography
Technique

Related Terms
  • Agro-toxins, BDIH, CIR, Cosmetic Ingredient Review, cosmetics, cruelty-free beauty products, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap®, Eco-Cert, fair-trade beauty products, genetically modified, GMO, green labels, herbicides, holistic medicine, National Organic Program, natural, NOP, organic, organic farming, Organic Consumers Association, Organic Foods Production Act, OFPA, Organic Trade Association, organophosphates, personal care products, pesticides, sustainable agriculture, sustainable farming, USDA Organic, USDA organic label, USDA Organic Seal.

Background
  • Growers, consumers, and others in the agricultural industry began pushing for government-defined organic labeling for food products in the 1980s. This movement then gradually spread to beauty and personal care products, such as lip balms, skin care products, and toothpastes.
  • In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop national standards for organically produced agricultural products to assure consumers that products marketed as organic meet these standards. The National Organic Program (NOP), part of the USDA's marketing service division, was created to fulfill the OFPA's directives. Neither the OFPA nor the NOP regulations address food safety or nutrition.
  • People may choose organic beauty products for many reasons. It has been suggested that they contain fewer toxins, are not inhumanely tested on animals, are healthier and safer for the environment, and promote fair trade. However, there is a lack of conclusive safety information on organic beauty products.
  • The USDA does not claim that organic products are safer than conventionally produced products. The label "USDA Organic" refers only to the way the agricultural ingredients in these products are grown, handled, and processed.
  • In the United States, a product is considered organic if the food or agricultural product, farm, handlers, and processors of that food all meet specific criteria from the USDA. These criteria include that livestock receive no antibiotics or growth hormones and that produce is grown without most conventional pesticides, or synthetic or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Genetically modified (GMO) or bioengineered animals and crops are not considered organic, and neither are products that undergo ionizing radiation.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the term organic for beauty, body care, personal care, or other cosmetic products.
  • However, because the USDA regulates all organic agricultural products, a beauty product that contains agricultural ingredients may be eligible for organic certification. These products must meet USDA/NOP standards for organic production, handling, processing, and labeling.
  • Manufacturers of beauty products may also choose to certify and market their products using other private standards, such as foreign organic standards. (For example, Germany has a Certified Natural Cosmetics program, and France has Eco-Cert.) The NOP does not currently regulate such labels.
  • The amount of organic ingredients in these products varies. Some companies or distributors require that all plant ingredients must be certified organic when possible. Some do no testing on animals and will not use ingredients derived from animals with very few exceptions (such as beeswax). Some companies and distributors also have strict policies on using environmentally friendly packaging.
  • According to the Organic Trade Association's 2006 Manufacturer Survey, the U.S. organic industry grew 17% overall to $14.6 billion in consumer sales in 2005. Non-food organic products in particular increased by 32.5% to a total of $744 million in consumer sales.

Theory / Evidence
  • According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all organic agricultural ingredients must be produced, handled, and manufactured by government-approved certifiers, who make sure the standards for "organic" are upheld.
  • Because the USDA regulates all organic agricultural products, a beauty product that contains agricultural ingredients may be eligible for organic certification.
  • Just as it does for organic foods, the USDA has four labeling categories for certified organic cosmetics, personal care products, and body care products. These are as follows: (1) 100% organic. These products contain nothing nonorganic, with the exception of water and salt; product may show the USDA Organic Seal. (2) Organic. These products contain 95% or more organic ingredients. The other ingredients must be on the government list of approved synthetic substances or be unavailable as organics. Product may bear the USDA Organic Seal. (3) Made with organic ingredients. These products contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, up to three of which can be printed on the label. These products may not bear the USDA Organic Seal. (4) If a product contains less than 70% organic ingredients, the word organic may appear only on the ingredient information panel. These products may not bear the USDA Organic Seal.
  • Use of the USDA Organic Seal is voluntary. However, labeling a nonorganic product with the USDA Organic Seal can result in a fine of up to $11,000 for each violation.
  • Products labeled natural, pesticide-free, naturally grown, or hormone-free are not necessarily organic. The USDA does not regulate labels with other similar terms, such as earth-friendly or eco-friendly.

Safety




Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Cosmetic Ingredient Review
  2. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Amended final report of the safety assessment of Drometrizole as used in cosmetics. Int J Toxicol. 2008;27 Suppl 1:63-75.
  3. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Amended final report of the safety assessment of cocamidopropylamine oxide. Int J Toxicol. 2008;27 Suppl 1:55-62.
  4. Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Final report on the safety assessment of Aloe Andongensis Extract, Aloe Andongensis Leaf Juice, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Extract, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Juice, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Protoplasts, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Polysaccharides, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice, and Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2007;26 Suppl 2:1-50.
  5. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  6. No authors listed. Final report on the safety assessment of capsicum annuum extract, capsicum annuum, fruit extract, capsicum annuum resin, capsicum annuum fruit powder, capsicum, frutescens fruit, capsicum frutescens fruit extract, capsicum frutescens resin, and capsaicin. Int J Toxicol. 2007;26 Suppl 1:3-106.
  7. No authors listed. Final report on the safety assessment of polyethylene. Int J Toxicol. 2007;26 Suppl 1:115-27.
  8. Organic Trade Association
  9. USDA National Organic Program

Technique
  • People may choose organic beauty products for many reasons. It has been suggested that they contain fewer toxins, are not inhumanely tested on animals, are healthier and safer for the environment, and promote fair trade.
  • Organic beauty and personal care products can be purchased in conventional beauty stores, natural or organic stores, or online.
  • If a beauty or personal care product is submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for organic certification of any agricultural ingredients, it has to pass standards for production, handling, processing, and labeling under the supervision of a USDA-accredited organic certifying agent.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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