Buyer beware! What you see is not always what you get.

Natural skin care, you would think, would be made from natural ingredients. Natural ingredients come from plants, right?

Well, maybe...

The various different dictionaries define natural as

- being in accordance with or determined by nature
- present in or produced by nature
- inherent, not acquired
- not produced or changed artificially; not conditioned
- not altered, treated, or disguised

However, in the world of natural skin care products, the word "natural" has no legal definition. Manufacturers can call their products natural if they contain all natural skin care ingredients, a few natural ingredients or none at all.

Even organic natural skin care is not what you might think. Surely if it says organic it must have all healthy ingredients, right?

Well again, maybe or maybe not!

If the products are USDA certified organic skin care to the National Organic Program Standards (NOP), i.e. the organic food standards, then you can feel that you've got a healthy product. However, if the product says organic, but it's not certified then there may be a problem.

Recently the Organic Consumer's Association (OCA) commissioned a study of organic natural skin care and body care products from health food stores. The results showed that many of the popular products labeled as organic actually contained the cancer-causing contaminant 1,4-dioxane.

The products that were certified organic according to the NOP standards did not contain 1,4-dioxane.

So, you might say, that's easy, just buy certified organic skin care products. That would have worked in the past, when the only organic standards were the NOP food standards.

Until recently, there were no certified organic standards for skin care, cosmetics and personal care products. However, a short time ago companies like L'Oreal, Estee Lauder and Hain from the conventional skin care industry got together and formed the OASIS organic standards. There was no comment period for input from the organic consuming public. Organic farmers and skin care companies who had achieved certified organic status through the NOP were not invited to participate.

The OASIS organic standards allow non-organic ingredients grown with synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. They also permit petroleum derived synthetic preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin.

Another organic standard is Ecocert. It's new to the U.S., but has been the European standard for some time. This certifying body also has a less-than-organic standard and is known to certify products as organic that don't even meet their own low standards.

These pseudo-organic standards, by allowing a variety of synthetic ingredients in products they certify as organic, undermine the true meaning of organic as set forth with the NOP.

So, even though it should be easier to identify truly all natural organic skin care products, it really isn't ... if you're just looking at the label.

To make sure you get truly healthy, all natural skin care products, do these things before you buy:

1. Check out the manufacturer. Many of the mainstream cosmetic and skin care companies are coming out with natural skin care lines that aren't very natural.
2. Look for USDA certified organic or certified organic to the NOP standards.
3. Read the ingredients list. If you need help, Dying To Look Good is a good resource you can carry with you when you shop.
4. Check the ingredients every time you buy. Manufacturers sometimes change the ingredients.

With all the deception in the organic market, it is just as important now, as ever before, to do your due diligence. Do your homework and vote with your dollars for the truly good-for-you organic natural skin care products.

Author's Bio: 

(c) 2008 Christine H. Farlow, D.C., "The Ingredients Investigator," author of Dying To Look Good, gives more information about ingredient safety at and healthy skin care products at