"Natural", "Organic", "Eco" and Labels, Logos and Claims to Understand

Reform Beauty Blog - The Shocking Truth About Labels, Logos and Claims

Claims like "Organic", "Eco", "Natural", "Clean", "Botanical" and "Pure" all sound great, but those descriptions can be grossly misleading. While products labeled with these terms are certainly not always bad for us, they are definitely not regulated either. That means even if a product has "organic" or "natural" on the label it doesn’t necessarily mean that what is actually inside the bottle fits that description.

Here is the most shocking fact: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have to approve beauty products before they’re put out into the market.

The FDA has decided to leave it up to the consumer to read and understand product labels. However, does the average consumer know what Sodium Laureth Sulfates (SLS) are, or the affect SLS has on their body?

(SLS is a detergent used to make products foam, and it’s NOT good for you.)

Before we started Reform Beauty I thought there was more than just self regulation in place in order to label a product “Natural” or “Botanical." The same concept applies for symbols or stamps like USDA Organic, Non-GMO which may also be misleading. So be sure to check the legitimacy of the organization before you trust their stamp of approval. Additionally, I'd incorrectly assumed that all of those buzz words like “Clean” or “Natural” were more or less synonymous. Again, not necessarily true. Each of these terms has nuance that may be important in guiding your personal needs.

Here are a couple of easy things to remember to help you navigate the process without having to earn your masters degree in chemistry. Here are the big three:


  • Natural

    “Natural” products do not contain any sort of artificial flavoring, coloring or any other artificial or synthetic ingredients like chemical preservatives. Additionally, in the extreme, the product and it’s ingredients are minimally processed.

  • Organic

    “Organic” ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Typically in order to be as labeled “Organic” a product must be created using only 70% “Organic” ingredients and the remaining 30% can be pretty much anything they want.

  • Clean

    There isn’t a singular definition of Clean Beauty but “Clean” products embrace safety over source. That is to say that not all “natural” ingredients are safe (think Lead or Mercury) and not all synthetic ingredients are unsafe. Some synthetic ingredients have actually been shown to be safer for personal use then their “natural” counterparts. So, a “Clean” brand would use whichever is safer for your body to process.


Well there it is. I’m sure I’ll revisit this in greater detail again but I don’t want to overload anyone right now. I encourage you to do your own research and comment below with anything more that really jumps out you. I’m always interested to learn more and hear your feedback.


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