Decoding the Meaning of “Natural Skincare” and Trustworthy Skincare Brands

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Are you interested in switching to natural, organic, non-toxic, and low or zero waste skincare?

Great! But before you jump in, let’s clarify some terms — what do these terms actually mean?

Madeleine from The Wise Consumer will explain everything in this guide…

We generally understand that when a brand uses terms like “natural,” “clean,” and “non-toxic,” they are referring to products that avoid harmful ingredients. These are typically products that don’t contain ingredients linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and other health concerns.

But what do these terms mean specifically in the context of skincare? Let’s find out.

What is “Natural Skincare”?

While the term “natural” is commonly used in the clean beauty industry, it doesn’t have a legal definition. It’s a marketing term without specific regulations.

The FDA, which regulates cosmetic labeling, has not defined the term “natural.” So, when a brand labels their products as “natural,” it may not always guarantee their safety.

What is “Organic Skincare”?

Similarly, the FDA doesn’t have a legal definition for “organic” in the context of skincare. However, the term is regulated by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).

The USDA defines a product as certified organic if it is made up of 95% or more organic content. Cosmetic products labeled as “organic” need to comply with both USDA regulations and FDA regulations for labeling and safety requirements.

Do “Organic” and “Natural” Labels Mean a Product is Safe?

Not necessarily. Some natural and organic ingredients can still be toxic. Just because a product is labeled as “organic” or “natural,” it doesn’t automatically mean it is safe.

The FDA warns that using “natural” or “organic” ingredients doesn’t guarantee safety. It’s important to look for third-party certifications from organizations like Made Safe to ensure a product’s safety.

What is Non-Toxic Skincare?

The Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides state that marketers claiming their products as “non-toxic” need scientific evidence to prove they are safe for both people and the environment.

Non-toxic indicates that the product doesn’t contain substances that can cause personal injury or illness when inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin.

It’s important to note that not all preservatives used in skincare are bad. In fact, some products require preservatives to prevent bacterial growth and maintain product shelf life.

Water-based products, in particular, need preservatives to prevent mold and bacteria growth. However, oil-based products usually don’t require preservatives because oil is an inhospitable environment for bacterial growth.

Understanding skincare terminology and ingredient safety can be confusing. The Wise Consumer Podcast’s upcoming season will feature scientists and cosmetic experts to help clarify these concepts.

Please note that this guide includes affiliate links and partners. All featured brands meet strict sustainability standards.

1. Activist Skincare

Activist Skincare is a brand known for using pure, eco-friendly botanical ingredients and their refillable packaging program. Their focus is on self-care for activists and change-makers.

Skincare categories: Cleansing oils/gels/balms, hydrating toners, and nourishing serums.

2. Little Seed Farm

Little Seed Farm is a family-owned brand that crafts zero waste skincare using responsibly-sourced organic ingredients. They prioritize sustainability through practices like rotational grazing and solar energy production.

Skincare Categories: Serums, Moisturizers, Deodorant

3. Apoterra

Apoterra is a brand that harnesses the power of plants like prickly pear, sea buckthorn, and green tea to provide holistic healing and nourishment for the skin. They prioritize transparency and are certified by Green America and Leaping Bunny.

Skincare Categories: Toners, cleansers, soaps, scrubs, serums/balms, and travel kits.

4. Bambu Earth

Bambu Earth is a handcrafted brand that uses ethically sourced and sustainably harvested real ingredients. They emphasize celebrating natural beauty and prioritize the well-being of people and the planet.

Skincare Categories: Toners, serums, mud masks, cleansing oil, lip balm, dry shampoo, deodorant spray, soap, and body oil.

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