Eco-Beauty: What Do All The Certifications Mean?
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO... So, you've finally decided to ditch the old lipstick and moisturizer in your beauty bag in favor of green, eco-friendly alternatives given the growing number of options out there. But how do you know that something that you will put on your skin every day is really a better alternative? In addition to reading ingredients, one way is to check for certifications. Here's a list of eco-certifications and organizations in alphabetical order to help you clarify what's in that jar of magic cream and how to shop green:
ACO: (Australian Certified Organic)
These products contain (excluding water and salt) at least 95% organically produced agricultural ingredients. The remaining ingredients (up to 5%) can be non-agricultural substances or non-organically produced agricultural ingredients, with strict processing criteria (e.g. absolutely no GMOs or synthetics chemicals).
BFA: (Biological Farmers of Australia)
Made with organic ingredients products contain (excluding water and salt) at least 70% organically produced agricultural ingredients. Any remaining can be non-agricultural substances (eg. Clay, bicarb soda, minerals) or non-organically produced agricultural ingredients with strict processing criteria (e.g. absolutely no GMOs or synthetics chemicals). Mineral based products contain non-agricultural substances (e.g. clay, bicarb soda, minerals), with strict processing criteria (e.g. absolutely no GMOs or synthetics chemicals).
CALIFORNIA ORGANIC PRODUCTS ACT: (COPA 2003)
Any product that does not meet COPA requirements cannot legally be sold as organic in the State of California. The product is not considered organic unless that product meets the criteria of 70% organic content. This is calculated based on the actual agricultural organic content which does not include "water" and "extracts". This means water and extracts rarely contribute more than 1% of the total organic content.
Products that contain at least 95% organic ingredients can claim to be certificated organic and will bear the USDA organic logo. These products may contain up to 5% non-organically produced agricultural ingredients that are not commercially available in organic form and/ or a short list of other neutral (e.g. not harmful) substances as allowed by USDA organic regulations.
Is an internationally recognized organic certification that guarantees the genuine practice of environmental respect throughout the formulation and manufacturing of the product. The certification ensures that 100% of the total ingredients are of a natural origin. Ecocert is the leading European authority on organic certification, and the standards used by prestige organic brands. It's the only organic certification for color cosmetics.
Organic and Natural are not the same. The term natural is not regulated and has a broad meaning. According to government labeling requirements, it means that an ingredient “has not been significantly altered from its original state, nor has anything been removed from it (with the exception of water). It also means that no other substances been added to it.
NOP: (National Organic Program)
Develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. The NOP also accredits the certifying agents (foreign and domestic) who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA.
NSF International: (National Sanitation Foundation)
This organization helps protect you by certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods. As an independent, nor-for-profit organization, their ongoing public health commitment is to encourage everyone to live safer.
OASIS: (Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards)
This is the only cosmetic and skincare “organic” certification and is also a private, rather than a governmental certification. The standards are meant to bring some sort of standardization to personal care industry organic claims. This standard requires 85% certified organic content which will be expected to increase as green chemistry and products evolve.
Organic refers to the way plants and food are grown. This is a strict standard that ensures no synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, sewage sludge, or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are used. It also suggests that animal welfare and the environment is respected.
- Organic products are made with ingredients grown without any synthetic chemicals, sewage sludge or genetically modified organisms. Organic products do not contain synthetic ingredients.
- Products only labeled “natural” often use synthetic preservatives and other un-natural ingredients, alongside plant ingredients, and get labeled natural with only few ingredients actually being “natural”.
OTA: (Organic Trade Association)
This is the membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. OTA represents businesses across the organic supply chain and addresses all things organic, including food, fiber/textiles, personal care products, and new sectors as they develop. Over sixty percent of OTA trade members are small businesses.
Ensures the integrity of the products in relation to the environmental impact of their farming and long-term sustainability of the crops. No chemical fertilizers or pesticides are permitted in the growing of the crop.
USDA: (United States Department of Agriculture)
These products meet the strict ingredients and processing criteria in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.
She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women's health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.