When a beauty product says "organic," what does that actually mean?
Organic, like natural, has become a buzzword, and it's imperative we know when something is truly organic versus when a company is misusing the term, whether out of ignorance, in attempt to greenwash, or, believe it or not, when the "natural" market plays dirty and underhanded to gain competitive edge.
Organic applies to relevant agriculturally produced ingredients grown and processed with regulations regarding the purity of the soil, pesticides, and additives used. At the heart of organic is reliance on chemical-free-based farming and production.
A legitimately certified organic product bears the name of the certifying agent of the final product, on the ingredients panel. Otherwise, simply because a company, mantra or logo, website, or even product says "organic" does not necessarily mean it is. This term gets misused in effort to gain consumer trust and convey a product's purity - whether truly pure or not.
Are there standards for having a label on a beauty product that includes "organic?"
Straight from the FDA: The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP regulations include a definition of “organic” and provide for certification that agricultural ingredients have been produced under conditions that would meet the definition. They also include labeling standards based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product.
To paraphrase, the FDA is not an official organic certifying agency; the NOP under USDA is the go-to for all things organic, and they're the agency with the break-down on labeling criteria.
It's unfortunately not uncommon to see brands tossing around "organic" as if it's simply an adjective, but the overarching regulator of this term and its important implications is the National Organic Program: Products labeled as “100% organic” must contain only organically produced ingredients and processing aids, excluding water and salt. No other ingredients or additives are permitted. Products labeled “organic” must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining ingredients must consist of non-agricultural substances that appear on the NOP National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
In a nutshell, if something is labeled "100%" organic and implies the entire product is organic, every last ingredient must be organic, with the exception of aqua/water and salt.
Similarly but slightly less stringent, if something is labeled as organic (not one hundred percent, though), at least 95 percent of the ingredients must be produced in an organic manner, excluding salt and water; this allows for up to five percent 'other' ingredients, which can range from minerals to preservatives, fragrance, and additives.
Formulas that are either 100% organic or organic are to show the percentage break-down of their organic ingredients on the ingredients deck.
Beyond "100% organic" and "organic," there is one more legitimate organic claim: contains organic ingredients. This claim entails a product containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients.
Formulas touting "100% organic" and "organic" need to be certified organic. Formulas with less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot identify as “organic” but are allowed to specify which ingredients are organically produced by denoting them on the ingredients panel. That's when you may see an ingredients list with asterisks next to specific ingredients and then at the end "*certified organic" to show all the ingredients that individually are produced organically.
Lately I've seen companies claiming their bentonite clay is organic or even claiming their water (yes, water!) or colorants such as iron oxides, which are synthetically produced, are organic. Inorganic minerals from the earth?! Water?! Lab-made colorants?! These are not and cannot be organic; the consumer needs to be educated in true organic labeling criteria in order to catch such mis-labeling "information."
How does Omiana label? Is Omiana "100% organic" or "organic"?
Omiana does the latter, denoting which basic ingredients are organic and not making broad claims ... yet, until we have paid for official certifications. We aim to have our products tested and certified officially soon - it's an extra layer for consumer assurance on products' purity. This is sometimes a 'later step' for privately held or smaller companies, what with the investment. Always, we encourage every consumer of any brand to study the ingredients panels of their cosmetics and food products closely:
If claiming organic, is it "100% organic" or "organic" and who is the certifying agency? If merely denoting the organic ingredients within the ingredients panel, are any odd, non-agricultural-based ingredients being labeled as organic? Vetting companies' credibility and honesty in this era is a must. It can be a time-intensive investment to do so, but consider it a health-and-wellness investment that can affect you, the consumer, long-term, especially if you turn to these products repeatedly.