What does the word ‘organic’ mean?
By definition, the word organic (of food or farming methods) means that there were no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents used in the production of the product.
relating to or derived from living matter | synonyms: living, live, animate, biological, biotic | “organic matter”
(of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents | synonyms: pesticide-free, additive-free, natural | “organic vegetables”
In checking if the product you are buying is really organic, you should check which ingredients are NOT used in the product, instead of what was used.
Case in point, it is easy for companies to claim that their product is “organic” because let’s say, they used “organic aloe vera” as an ingredient in the product. However, when you carefully read the ingredients, they used something called “petrolatum,” which is actually a cancer-causing ingredient.
This just goes back to what the definition of organic is: products that are made WITHOUT the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, additives.
Make sure to read all the ingredients and check if they did not use harmful ingredients such as:
- Mineral Oils
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
- Cocamide DEA / Cocamide MEA
- Lanolin and its Derivatives
- Propylene Glycol
- Methylisothiazolinone / Methylchloroisothiazolinone
- Parabens (Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben)
Organic & Natural: What’s the Difference?
Organic products refer to items that are produced using organic means. Ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge.
Natural product items can have both organic and natural ingredients but may be minimally synthesized.
Organic products have strict standards. Different certification bodies such as BDIH, ICEA, ACO, USDA have to inspect the farm where the ingredients were grown, check that the soil is completely chemical-free, and make sure that the farm is following all the rules of organic standards.
Natural products, on the other hand, have no strict rules and regulations. There are only guidelines such as: no use of artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no irradiated ingredients, or no GMOs. From my research, only European certification bodies certify natural products such as ICEA, COSMOS, among others.
Organic labels usually have a legal implication. As mentioned, there are specified rules and regulations before a manufacturer can use an organic label. However, this is not always the case. Many manufacturers nowadays can claim their product is organic, even though they are not certified.
Natural labels are used freely by manufacturers since there are no specific guidelines on how to claim that a product is natural, only guidelines.
Organic products are safer than non-organic and natural products since there are zero chemicals used in production and cultivation.
Natural products are safer than non-organic products but some ingredients may be cultivated by using pesticides and fertilizers.
Organic products are generally more expensive than both non-organic and natural products, but with good reason. These products go through so much certification standards, up to the soil used in cultivating the ingredients.
Natural products may be more expensive than non-organic or non-natural products because of the ingredients used.
Beware of these Cosmetic Ingredients
1. Parabens (Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben)
These ingredients act as preservatives but have hormone-disrupting effects. When used continuously, parabens can collect in breast tissue and stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Furthermore:
- Ethylparaben adds moisture to the skin but causes headache, weakness, nausea and skin irritation.
- Propylparaben is usually found in plants and insects. It prevents the growth of bacteria and mold to protect products but there have been studies where this ingredient causes the growth of breast cyst.
- Butylparaben is tasteless, but it numbs the tongue. It is acidic but antimicrobial and antifungal. The effect is that it mimics estrogen and can act has a hormone system disruptor.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
SLS and SLES are usually found in shower products such as shampoo, soap, and body wash. Additionally, they are also used in oral care products and in cosmetics. It is a detergent and surfactant, therefore it helps with cleaning. However, it can be contaminated of 1,4-dioxane, which is a known carcinogen. It stays much longer in our bodies, primarily because the liver can’t process it properly. Therefore, this can easily build up in the lungs, brain, heart, and liver.
Other bad effects are irritation of scalp, gums, and skin, corrosion of skin, hormone imbalance (it increases estrogen for men), causes split hair, frizzy hair, and swelling of face or hands.
3. Cocamide DEA / Cocamide MEA
Cocamide DEA and MEA are not harmful on their own, but when they react with other ingredients, they become carcinogenic. They help with cleansing the skin or hair but causes hair and skin itchiness, dryness, rashes, and eye irritation.
Petrolatum, when refined (such as petroleum jelly), has no harmful effect on the skin. However, when it is not refined, it may contain PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are also found in: burning coal, oil, gasoline, trash, tobacco, and wood. This ingredient is mostly used in moisturizers, because it helps achieve the sticky formulation, but recent studies have shown that this is actually a cancer-causing ingredient. There’s actually nothing beneficial about this ingredient – it contributes to body contaminants, makes you break out, and doesn’t give you any nutrients or hydration.
5. Mineral Oil
Mineral is actually made from petrolatum, and it prevents the skin from eliminating toxins which can lead to acne and other skin disorders. It is usually found in lotions, creams, ointments, and makeup products.
6. Propylene Glycol
This is a colourless, creamy liquid that is a by-product of fossil fuel and fermentation. It hydrates skin and helps active ingredients to penetrate the skin, but it causes damage to the kidneys and liver, as well as neurotoxicity to children. Beware also not to get this ingredient to your eyes, because it can cause conjunctivitis.
7. Coal Tar Dye
Known as a human carcinogen, it is linked to allergic reactions, dermatitis, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and nervousness. It also causes major health concerns like cancer and organ toxicity. This is one ingredient that everyone must be careful of, because it is usually found in food, textile, cosmetics, and personal care products especially soaps, lotions, shampoos, hair treatments, and hair dyes.
8. Sodium Borate or Boric Acid
This ingredient can interfere with hormones and can cause infertility in men. Regular exposure is linked to low sperm count. The cosmetic industry states that it’s unsafe for infants, yet it is found in some baby care products. This ingredient is already banned in Europe and Canada but is still being widely used in Asian- and American-made products.
There are hundreds of chemical ingredients which may be derived from petroluem like butane, propylene, and methane. All of which are classified under petrochemicals, which are by-products or waste of refining crude oil. When applied to the skin, it doesn’t allow the skin to breathe, and it can clog pores. There are also some scents that are toxic petrochemicals, which can cause cancers and neurological disorders.
This is an antimicrobial preservative that releases formaldehyde, otherwise known as formalin. This is a very harmful ingredient that causes allergies, asthma, chest pain, joint pain, chronic fatigue, loss of sleep, headache, depression, and ear infection. It is also linked to major health concerns such as cancer and dermatitis.
A few more ingredients to be wary of:
- Paraffin - can clog pores and cause breakout but often found in face creams and body lotions
- Carbomer - causes skin irritation
- Lanolin and its Derivatives - also called as wool fat or wool wax, it is used for protection, treatment, and beautification of the skin;however, it causes major breakouts
- Methylisothiazolinone / Methylchloroisothiazolinone - a synthetic biocide (a poisonous substance) and preservative that does not give any good effects on the skin
- Triclosan - linked to skin sensitivity, liver damage, hormone disruption and may cause cancer
- Fragrance - can trigger allergic reaction, respiratory issues like asthma, headache and hormonal disruption
- BHT - can cause cancer and interfere with hormone functions
- Retinol - creates free radicals that increase the risk of skin cancer
- Siloxane - can interfere with hormone function and damage the liver