Lately, there has been a change in cosmetics, household cleaning products, food and even dog foods which have coined two phrases: ‘organic’ and ‘natural’. Are the two terms interchangeable or do they have two different meanings?

The answer is no, they are not interchangeable. Basically the only thing in common is that each product using these two labels substitute a chemical product with natural or organic materials that are supposed to be not only better for the user but also the environment. Although the FDA requires manufactures to list all ingredients in descending order of concentration on the product labels it does not regulate the term ‘organic’ or ‘natural’.

Many manufactures have made up strict regulations internally to abide by for all products that are produced within their walls. Organic simply means that the botanical product was grown in a chemical-free environment. Natural on the other hand means that the final product has been made solely from botanical resources without any use of additives or preservatives.

Some popular organic products are Dr. Hauschka’s, Juice Beauty and L’Occitane. For American cosmetic companies many companies follow along with the National Organic Program which is a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture which requires that at least 95% of the product is organic. For products that are certified organic, one will notice there is a stamp of approval or states it is has been certified as organic. To make things more confusing for consumers, there are products available that state they are ‘made with organic ingredients’. This means there is at least 70% of organic material that has been used.

As for the term natural, there is no specific organization or U.S. department that has any sort of regulation placed on these products. So, therefore a company can produce just about anything and say it is natural. It is not to say that some companies are honest about the products, there are reputable ones, however it is not to say that there is some out there feeding on the eco-conscious consumers. Most of the companies that state the product are natural means that there are no synthetic additives such as color chemicals chemical preservatives or even chemical fragrances. Some popular cosmetic products under this category are ‘Decleor’, ‘Johnathan Products’ and “Skyn Iceland’ products. One of the most famous cosmestic products is the natural makeup lines such as “Mineral” that has natural sunblock. Yes, this is true, they actually contain some metals that actually protect against the sun. If the package does not state that it contains sun protection, you should consider putting on a sunblock before using though.

At first the basic concept of organic or natural products was to conserve the environment from chemical pesticide and fertilizers. Today, since the increase in the concern over the environment, many companies are trying to reach out to the billion dollar eco-conscious market. Therefore it is important as a consumer that is willing to most likely pay more money for an eco-friendly product to also check the ingredients. Do not be scammed by those companies that are just in it for the buck. A good way to tell if this is the case, check out the label for natural ingredients and also be conscious of the packaging. True eco-conscious companies will also be careful on the selection of the materials used for packaging. In addition, try checking out the color of the cosmetic product. For instance, if the lotion product is supposed to be made of strawberries, you should see a light strawberry color instead of a dark one. Normally comsmetic products do not have many colors since the processing takes out the color. So, this is a good indication of a good product that is eco-friendly or not.