Just because it says it's "green" doesn't mean it is. While there's a lot of greenwashing garbage to be found on your local drugstore shelf, some trusted government and independent certification programs exist to give consumers reassurance that they're buying a safe, trustworthy brand. Green Beauty Labels and Terms to Look For
Contains no traces of these harsh chemicals. Parabens and phthalates are found in the ingredient list of a product, while PCBs can be found in the plastic of the product's container.
USDA Organic certified
Through the National Organic Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates food ingredients found in cosmetics, and the Certified USDA Organic symbol is one of the most trustworthy labels around, especially on foods. But because the USDA only has jurisdiction over farm-raised ingredients, not all beauty product ingredients are regulated under this program, and there are more than enough ways to get confused. Here's a quick guide:
- Not regulated: Plant-derived ingredients and essential oils.
- Regulated: Ingredients like honey, cinnamon, avocado and other foods.
The term "organic," as it appears on beauty labels, has four variations.
- 100% Organic: The product must contain only organically produced food ingredients, and the label will display the USDA Organic seal.
- Organic: The product must contain at least 95% organically produced food ingredients, and the label will display the USDA Organic seal.
- Made with Organic Ingredients: The product must contain at least 70% organically produced food ingredients. While the front of the product can list up to three organic ingredients or one organic food group, the label will not have the USDA Organic seal. Individual ingredients on a product's ingredient list will be labeled as "organic".
- Organic Ingredients: Products which contain less than 70% organically produced food ingredients can only include organic ingredients on its ingredients list, but these products cannot display the USDA Organic seal.
IOS Natural & Organic Cosmetic Standard
In 2008, independent certification company Certech Registration Inc. introduced natural and organic certification for cosmetic products in North America.
The IOS Natural & Organic Cosmetic certification requires that all food ingredients be organic and that the company follow a strict set of eco-friendly guidelines, including use of recycled and fair trade materials and production methods with small environmental impact. The first IOS Natural & Organic certified company, Eaurganic, launched in 2008.
BDIH Certified Natural Cosmetics
The BDIH is an independent German certification association (Association of German Industries and Trading Firm) that regulates health care products, food supplements and personal hygiene products, including cosmetics.
To gain BDIH certification, brands must use natural - not synthetic - raw materials (plant oils, herbal extracts, essential oils, fats and waxes). The ecological impact of each product also plays an important role in certification. More than 2,000 natural cosmetics are certified BDIH in Europe and North America.
The biodynamic movement is holistic in its approach to farming and food production. No artificial fertilizers or pesticides are used. Instead, farmers seek to achieve a natural harmony with the earth through an acute awareness of how weather and climate patterns and elements of nature (like the sun, earth, and air) work together to create a harmonious balance.
Brands Weleda, Primavera, and Dr. Hauschka use biodynamic ingredients and are certified by the Demeter International Association.
Whole Foods Premium Body Care Seal
Look for the premium Body Care seal on more than 1,200 products offered in the Whole Body section of your local Whole Foods store. Whole Foods regulates their own self-certification of cosmetic products that contain safe, gentle ingredients and are free from synthetic dyes and fragrances and harsh chemicals. Sunscreen is made with chemical-free alternatives zinc oxide and titanium oxide.
Related Links11 Lead-Free Lipsticks for a Safer Kiss
Awesome Recycled Art
30 Surprising Ways to Save Money By Going Green
For More Tips & Tricks You Can Count On: Subscribe to Good Housekeeping & Save!
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.