What’s the Difference Between Organic, Natural, and Non-toxic Skincare?
Why it matters, plus what you need to know
If you feel like shopping for skincare is somewhat confusing lately, you’re not alone. Things don’t get any easier when you decide to ditch the conventional skincare products and go the clean skincare route for your health (and that of the planet), not to mention that healthy, wholesome natural glow. Because even with clean skincare, how do you know what to look for in a product? Labels with buzzy trend words like organic, natural, non-toxic, plus vegan and cruelty-free can leave you wondering: what does it actually mean? Though these claims tend to bundle up together, they all mean different things about the skincare product in question. And one doesn’t guarantee the other. So read on to find out what each label means, plus how you can apply that knowledge for a more enlightened skincare routine today.
Seeing the word “organic” on a skincare product can mean many different things. Like what? First, you might see that a product “contains organic ingredients” (though that could mean a small percentage or a large percentage of the product—there’s no exact way to tell). Second, the label “certified organic” along with a reputable organic logo like the USDA or Ecocert stamp means the product adheres to strict organic guidelines. Still, these do vary from one organization to the next.
What the term organic promises is that your products contain no synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, or pesticides. At Seaflora, we craft marine skincare from USDA organic certified seaweed. Seaweed concentrations in some of our products can leap to as high as 80%, meaning that our products contain a super high percentage of certified organic ingredients.
Now this is where it gets tricky. The label “natural” doesn’t have a strict and clear meaning when it comes to skincare products. Ideally, seeing the word natural means your product formula rests on mostly natural ingredients. Like what? Think like plant botanicals, pure oils and butters like shea and cacao, and active ingredients like clay and chlorophyll. But in the worst cases, the label natural only means that a small handful of “natural” ingredients are added to a mostly synthetic formula. So how can you tell?
There’s a simple trick—reading the ingredient label. Sounds obvious, but here’s the kick: ingredients are listed in order of importance (aka concentration). In other words, you’ll be able to tell if a formula is mostly natural, or mostly synthetic (filled with ethyl acetate, nitrocellulose, artificial dyes and perfumes, and the like).
At Seaflora, every product formula rests on a proprietary, 100% natural and organic seaweed blend. When you read the ingredient list, you see right away that the formula rightly deserves the label “natural”.
The non-toxic label is relatively newer than “organic” and “natural”. Still, demand for non-toxic skincare is growing super fast—and for good reason. While the term is not currently under strict regulation, most people agree on its meaning. In short, non-toxic skincare means products that are free of harmful compounds known to negatively affect our heath. Like what? Thinks additives like phthalates, parabens, formaldehyde, and petroleum products. All of these can link to serious health concerns like hormone disruption and skin irritation.
For non-toxic skincare, check out our list of five ingredients to avoid and why here. At Seaflora, we’re committed to safe and natural formulas and all of our products are proudly non-toxic.
Other labels: Vegan. Cruelty-free, Gluten-free, GMO-free, Fair-trade, Green
Vegan: this label means that the skincare products are formulated with no animal-sourced ingredient. (Examples of animal-sourced ingredients include lanolin from sheep’s wool, and emu oil).
Cruelty-free/Not tested on animals: this label means that the ingredients in the product formula, as well as the product itself, don’t test on animals.
Gluten-free: this label means that the product doesn’t contain gluten and is safe for those who suffer from celiac disease, or gluten allergy.
Fair-trade: this label means that some ingredients used in the product formula come from fair-trade companies. It means that the workers received a decent wage. (Shea butter and palm oil are common ingredients you can source from fair trade).
Green: this label means that the product is manufactured according to ecological principles, from sourcing the ingredients to production to recyclable packaging.