Organic skincare was seen as a trend in the world of skin care and beauty, but now it is a staple.
With customers becoming more conscious of the products they use on their skin, rising concerns of the impact on long term health and the aspiration towards healthy skin, organic skincare has become the preferred choice.
However, to this day, there are many who don’t fully understand the meaning, the science and the real differentiators of organic skincare. Is it the same as natural? Does organic always mean better? Where do you start with this skincare?
We will break it down for you, plain and simple.
So, what is organic skincare?
Any skincare product starts with it’s raw materials. The raw materials can be extracted from nature like a farm, jungle or they can be created, man-made in a lab. For example, a sunflower growing in a farm, a willow tree growing wild in a jungle are natural in origin or a man-made synthetic compound like Hyalraunic acid is made in a lab.
Each of these can be turned into an ingredient, sunflowers are used for their seed oil, a willow tree bark is used for it’s salicylic acid, and hyaluronic acid is made from biofermentation of bacteria.
If a product claims their Sunflower Seed Oil is organic, that means
- The origin of the ingredient comes from nature - in this case a sunflower seed
- The original sunflower has come from an actual farm
- That sunflower was grown using organic farming, without any pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and other additives or chemicals.
- The process of getting the oil out of the sunflower seed used Green Chemistry principles, which means it did not use any chemicals or hazardous substances during the extraction either.
The above cannot be said for ingredients that do not have natural origins.
How does organic skincare benefit me?
If the ingredients used are truly organic, that means
- There will be no harsh chemicals mixed in it
- It will have no hazardous substances mixed in it
- It will be in it’s purest, most authentic form
For your skin, it means
- You are using a product that has clean, safe ingredients, it is less likely to irritate or damage your skin in the long term
- You are getting the benefit of the real naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and other properties the plant, flower, seed, sap, etc may have.
For the environment, it means
- There are lesser harsh chemicals polluting our soil, our water system, oceans and air.
- There are lesser animals being harmed by the pollutants to the soil, water and air
- There are lesser animals used for testing or are sources for synthetic chemicals ingredients
But how do we check if a product is really ‘Organic’?
As a consumer, if you are unsure if a product is really organic, there is no other way than to ask for an official certification.
Certifications for organic skincare can work two ways
- An ingredient can be certified organic
- A product can be certified organic
An organic ingredient is one that falls under certain legitimate organic standards and has undergone an inspection process that confirms the standards. There are organizations like Ecocert that inspect and audit raw materials and provide certifications. To certify an ingredient, certification bodies typically check,
- Organic farming standards at the farm
- Extraction/Manufacturing processes - physical or chemical (each has their own rules)
- Green Chemistry principles during processing
- Forbidden substances like Genetically Modified plants, plant, plant materials and animals
- Forbidden raw materials like endangered flora and fauna
- Forbidden raw materials like animal parts that lead to their death
Few facts about organic certification for ingredients
- Manufacturers Apply: Organic certifications have to be applied for and there are stringent requirements to follow in order to pass the audit and inspection.
- Certifications expire: Organic certifications have to be reapplied for every year, the same audit and inspection is done again to renew the certification.
- Higher Prices: Organic certified ingredients tend to be more expensive than standard ingredients available on the market.
Disclaimer: If an ingredient is organic, it certainly does not mean that the entire product is organic (unless your entire product is one ingredient). There could be other ingredients in the formulation that do not fit the organic standards. This differentiator is often misused by marketers. If you have an organic ingredient, that’s great! But marketers need to be more careful about their language, it is greenwashing to claim an entire product is Organic if only one ingredient is so.
When a product is certified organic, it means not only an ingredient but all the steps in the process of creating this product are compliant under organic standards.
An organic certification for a product will have organic standards for each step. For eg:
- Raw Materials/Ingredients: Each ingredient is checked for an organic certification and no animal testing (that means they are pre-vetted for ingredient standards)
- Formulation: Percentages of organic ingredients vs synthetic ingredients need to pass the standard. For eg: Under Cosmos Organic, Organic PPAI/PPAI must be over 95%, only 2% of Petrochemical Moieties are allowed.
- Packaging: Primary Packaging cannot be made of non recyclable material. Bottle, tubes, caps, pumps are inspected and documentation is submitted to prove this.
- Labeling: Labels are not allowed to greenwash, each organic ingredient has to be marked and the percentage of organic ingredients has to be mentioned.
- Manufacturing: Methods of Manufacturing, storage, hygiene, cleaning supplies need to match the organic standard too.
Which organic certifications are renowned globally?
Standards like Cosmos (“COSMetic Organic and Natural Standard”) are the global leaders in upholding the most updated organic standards. They are a globally harmonized standard; skincare and cosmetic brands from all around the world apply for their certification.
There are documentation processes, physical audits and inspections for raw material, formulations, packaging, labeling and manufacturing required to achieve this certification.
Cosmos Certifications need to be renewed every year for each product, with which come annual audits and inspections to ensure brands are upholding the compliance standards.
Logos like below confirm a Cosmos Organic Certification
How to get started with organic skincare?
The best way to start adding organic skincare products is to identify a brand or product made for your skin concern. Want a face wash that doesn’t strip your skin? Looking for a face serum that doesn’t irritate your skin? Looking for a multi purpose face care solution that reduces the number of products you use everyday?
Here are few more tips to get started with your organic skincare routine:
- Try one new product at a time
- Use the product consistently for a minimum of 3 weeks
- Take before and after pictures to track the skin improvement
Going organic is a choice and a lifestyle, a philosophy that encourages high quality, sustainable and safe skincare products. India is an emerging leader of organic skincare in the Asia Pacific region. Brands like Orrganic Elemennt, Juicy Chemistry, Plantas and more are going about it the right way following international, updated organic standards!