Shopping for natural, organic, cruelty free or vegan cosmetics can be a difficult task in todays market place. The terms are often used improperly or obscure. You never know what to believe or how to decipher it all. Once and for all the terms are demystified.
The words “natural”, “organic” and “vegan” are not properly regulated on personal care products so you cannot trust them. The term “natural” means absolutely nothing since there is no regulation at all for the term. Same goes for vegan. Organic is more regulated but due to this lax regulation, many personal care products have the word “organic” in their brand name or on their product label.
Organic is regulated when it is certified by the USDA National Organic Program, but it is still tricky. According to the USDA, in order for a product to use the term “100% Organic” it must be just that–excluding water and salt all ingredients must be organic; to use the USDA Organic seal a product must be at least “95% Organic” excluding water and salt; and to use the term “Organic” a product must have 70% or more organic. If a product has less than 70% organic ingredients the term “organic” is not allowed on the label anywhere. And simply because a product has some organic ingredients doesn’t mean it’s always clean. What’s in the other 30%? But there are many good certification programs other than the USDA standards for example ECOCERT a French certification and BDIH a German certification.
The term “Vegan” is not regulated. It usually refers to products that do not contain any animal products and they are “Cruelty Free”. However, cruelty free cosmetics are not the same as vegan. Cruelty free means that the products are not tested on animals but does not mean that they are free from animal products. In addition, not all vegan products are organic so one cannot assume. You need to look for both specifications on the label or packaging.