The right cosmetic: natural or organic?
For those who seek the world of natural cosmetics, there is a recurring doubt on natural cosmetics and organic cosmetics. What do these two terms mean? What are the differences? What are the best ones? Which ones should you choose?
Let's try to explore the substantial differences between the two categories.
In most countries, the use of the term natural is not regulated in any way by law. So, in short, any company can say that its product is natural because there are no parameters that legally define when a product can be considered natural and when it is not. In practice, a cosmetic product may contain ingredients which, although are of natural origin, are then highly refined in the laboratory.
However, this lack of clarity does not necessarily have to frighten the consumer: there are excellent natural cosmetics in the market and there is an excellent method for understanding whether a product is good or not. The key is to read the ingredients. Here the law is clear and you can't go wrong: the ingredients must be listed on the label according to precise rules. The order in which you will find them indicated is not random but refers to the percentage of that ingredient contained in the product: you start from the highest and work your way to the lowest. There are sites, apps and social groups that can help you identify the best INCIs and keep you away from those that only use the term "natural"
Certified organic cosmetics, on the other hand, have a more strict definition, they are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States and by the AIAB in Italy (Italian Association of Organic Farming), and therefore by the relevant bodies. In any case, even if the label of a product states that the product is natural or organic, always check the ingredients and certification, you can't go wrong.
There are several certifications for organic cosmetics. What are the differences?
They mainly differ in the percentages of natural or organic ingredients needed to meet the certification criteria. It is not necessary that a product should contain 100% organic or natural ingredients in order to obtain the "organic" certification.
For example, two important certifiers such as Cosmos or AIAB require that 95% of the ingredients must be natural or of natural origin. FI-Natura also requires that the remaining 5% be made up of ingredients approved for natural cosmetics.
Often natural and organic certifications also require that products are not tested on animals. They cannot usually contain genetically modified ingredients, controversial chemicals, parabens and phthalates or synthetic colours or fragrances.
In addition, another key parameter is the percentages of natural and organic ingredients. For example, the label can state that 10% of the ingredients come from organic farming. That 10% sounds like a small amount, right? But just think that most skin care products are water-based and water cannot be certified as organic. It's natural, but it can never be called organic. So there's more than one logical reasoning to do when faced with an organic or natural product, but they all start essentially from the list of ingredients.
Some products, on the other hand, may even contain wild, pure and natural ingredients harvested directly from the hands of the craftsman, but if they are not grown according to organic farming standards, they can never be certified as organic. Yet they would probably have nothing to be envious of an organic competitor. Organic, therefore, is not automatically considered better than natural.
The only way to be certain about the degree of "naturalness" of a product, provided that this is always an advantage (and it is not necessarily the case anyway, the laboratory is not necessarily "the evil") is to rely on an INCI analysis: a label that unfolds its ingredients with natural and organic substances will give me the certainty that I am dealing with a quality product.
The origin of the ingredients
Certified organic ingredients come from organic farming, which means that no pesticides or fertilisers have been used, i.e. without the use of certain prohibited chemicals.
What about natural ingredients? The most common natural ingredient in dermatological products is water. Other natural ingredients can be salt, clay in all its colourful shades, endless species of wild herbs and berries, even those not organically grown.
They may be the purest and most natural possible, but if they are not harvested from certified organic crops, they cannot be defined as ingredients of organic origin on the label. So when we choose a cosmetic product, we look for those with the highest percentage of natural ingredients. It's even better if they have the organic certification but let's not be fooled by these definitions.