When choosing organic products, it’s time to think beyond the kitchen! There’s a whole world of certified organic products waiting to be discovered in the beauty sections of natural health retailers.
When choosing organic products, most of us think of stocking our grocery carts and pantries with fresh, healthy food. But there’s a whole world of certified organic beauty products waiting to be discovered in natural health retailers! Let’s take a trip there together.
Why choose “organic” in the bathroom?
It just doesn’t make sense to eat organic and not use organic beauty products. Like organic foods, organic beauty products are produced without the use of synthetic preservatives, pesticides, petrochemicals, or genetically modified organisms. Contrary to popular belief, many ingredients used in skin care products can be absorbed into our bodies through our skin.
It’s also important to remember that the plants used to formulate personal care products (everything from cotton to coconut to camomile) are crops, just like the plants used in food products. Organic crops are better for the health of the planet and the people involved in the farming and manufacturing process—using less water, building healthy ecosystems, reducing pollution, protecting the health of farmers, and promoting healthy soil.
Certifications to check out
Although different certifying bodies have different rules, in general, if a personal care product in Canada is labelled as “organic,” that means at least 95 percent of the ingredients are produced without pesticides. If a product contains between 70 and 94 percent certified organic ingredients, it can be labelled as “made with organic ingredients.”
However, it’s not always necessary for a product to be 100 percent organic, as some healthy ingredients (such as water) cannot be certified organic.
Look for these certifications
- The American USDA certification is widely available on a variety of products available in Canada.
- Our national certification body, Canada Organic , is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. It includes personal care products as well as food.
- Quality Assurance International is an international certifying body available on a wide variety of products sold in Canada.
- Ecocert is a French certification organization that specializes in personal care products, cleaning products, and spa products.
- The COSMOS-standard was created by five major European organic organizations and is mainly available on European products.
Of course, there are many more certifications that can be seen on products for sale in Canada, including country-specific certifications.
Organic products to look for
Skin care and hair care
All of our daily products, from shampoo to sunscreen, can be found in organic versions available at natural health retailers.
For those of us who wear makeup, there’s good news. Any organic beauty products can be substituted for conventional versions—so stock up on goodies such as lip gloss, bronzer, foundation and tinted moisturizer, mascara, and much more. Look for companies from Europe and Australia, as well as North America.
Organic feminine hygiene products are widely available. Learn more about the options and check them out at your natural health retailer.
Baby care and kids’ products
Babies and children have a greater susceptibility to environmental toxins, as they have a higher surface area to body weight ratio and their reproductive and endocrine systems are still developing. Thankfully, there are plenty of organic products to choose from. Look for diaper cream, wipes, shampoo, lotion, and more.
Nonorganic cotton is an extremely polluting crop. The body care sections of natural health retailers boast organic cotton swabs, cotton rounds, and cotton balls.
Here in Canada, cosmetics companies must list their ingredients on the product labels. However, decoding ingredient lists is easier said than done.
In the case of “fragrance” or “parfum,” for example, companies don’t need to specify the (potentially harmful) ingredients used to make the fragrance. Adding to the confusion is that some otherwise safe ingredients can be contaminated with harmful substances. It’s best to check out websites such as the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to rate your products.
For those looking for products without scent, be wary of the terms “fragrance free” or “unscented.” These can mean that masking fragrances were added to the product, so “parfum” or “fragrance” may still be seen in the ingredient list.
Keep in mind that the term “hypoallergenic” has no strict definition—it’s neither a legal nor scientific term.
See a long ingredient list or ingredients you can’t pronounce? It’s not always a cause for concern. In some cases, companies are required to list scientific names for ingredients. Therefore, something as simple as “orange peel extract” could be written as “Citrus aurantium dulcis.”