The Truth About: Organic Beauty & The Campaign For Clarity (What Does Organic Really Mean?)

As consumers step away more and more from ingredients they deem harmful (sulphates, parabens, mineral oils…) it becomes increasingly commercially beneficial for brands to capitalise on the organic beauty trend that’s been growing over the last ten years. Gone are the days when organic formulas were sticky, gloopy, runny, smelly or generally not that pleasant to use; technological and scientific advances now see the most natural and organic products being indistinguishable from those that are bursting with chemicals. However, this posts an increasing dilemma for consumers as more and more brands jump on the bandwagon in an attempt to benefit from a trend – rather than offering a serious alternative. Organic has become the buzzword in beauty, but what does organic really mean and how can you ensure you’re making wise shopping decisions?

Unlike organic food, there is currently no legal standard in place to protect shoppers against fake or misleading organic beauty claims; this flourishing green market is becoming increasingly confusing and hard to manoevre. Brands may use product names that give the impression of organic ingredients, add a few green leaves to a pack, or use nuances that subconsciously make us believe the formula will be better for us than the alternative – but all of this is just confusing marketing noise that hides what’s really going on. The Soil Association is the UK’s leading certification body that aims to make this process clearer, certifying brands and products in order to provide consumers with the tools they need to make informed purchasing decisions. This September sees them launch their Campaign For Clarity, because they believe that shoppers deserve to know what they are buying when they opt for organic.

The Soil Association certification stamp gives consumers the confidence to know that
what they are buying is truly organic; from the beautiful plants and
herbs used in the formulas, to the non-organic ingredients that are left
out, everything is checked to ensure it’s 100% true to its claims. In order to use the ‘stamp of approval’, brands have to provide detailed requirements on their ingredients and manufacturing
processes, meaning the quality and values that organic embodies are
preserved; you can therefore trust that what you are buying is the real deal. They say: “To label the whole product as organic when it only contains tiny quantities of organic materials is misleading to shoppers but it also begs the question, what other less favourable ingredients does that product contain? Certification with an accredited organisation is the only way to ensure your beauty products are truly organic and contain ingredients that are kinder to your skin” A product can only be called ‘organic’ by The Soil Association standards when 95% of the ingredients (excluding water) are organic; however, without this a brand could claim their product is ‘organic’ with as little as 1% organic ingredients. It’s baffling.

So what’s the difference between natural and organic? Natural ingredients are usually sourced naturally (an ambiguous statement that could mean anything from collecting seaweed to harvesting crops that are soaked in pesticides,) whereas organic means that the same natural ingredients are grown according to organic standards, i.e. no pesticides or chemicals are used at all. The desire for ‘organic’ has been born from the need to avoid these chemicals, but right now it’s hard as a consumer to often distibuguish between the two; this is where the Campaign For Clarity comes in. As there is no legal standard for organic beauty products, a number of private standards have been developed (including ECOCert, the French body which you may see on many of your products) which all have different levels for organic and natural certification. To stop this confusion, five of the leading certifiers in Europe (which together certify over 80% of the total natural and organic market,) have created a new standard called COSMOS; this creates one uniform and clear standard which will hopefully remove any confusion and ensure consumers are getting truly organic products.

Emma Reinhold, Trade Relations Manager at Soil Association simply says: “It’s
time to reclaim organic and stand up for the consumers who deserve to
know what they’re buying.”
If you’re shopping for organic and don’t want to get duped, always look for the logo: Soil Association, ECOCert and COSMOS are the three that I would recommend you familiarise yourself with, particularly if organic and natural is a big concern. Some of my favourite brands that do currently showcase the logos, and have been certified as an organic, include Neal’s Yard, Herbfarmacy, Yours Truly Organics and Skin & Tonic – but there are loads more that hold the accolade too. You can easily find out from their website if a brand has been certified as organic, so do your research before you aprt with your cash. Next week (14th September) is the start of Organic Beauty Week, providing the perfect excuse to get to grips with what organic means – as well as discovering some amazing brands that are offering discounts, free gifts, in store events, activities and promotions. Organic beauty may or may not be right for you, but understanding what you’re buying undoubtedly is. 

Does the confusing market frustrate you? Are you interested in organic beauty, or does it not appeal?

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  




  1. Abigail Alice
    September 11, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    I had no idea there was nothing in place to stop companies from claiming organic. Thanks for this really interesting post <3

  2. Pam Scalfi
    September 11, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    this is eye opening! It is confusing and I had no idea about half of this.Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  3. 2catsinjapan
    September 11, 2015 / 4:26 pm

    It seems that the Cosmos standard is going to be adopted in Korea as well. Which is good news for European fans of Korean cosmetics.Japan has its own organic cosmetics rules, but I'm sure that many products will have to be Cosmos certified if they are intended for the European market.

  4. Jane Mann
    September 12, 2015 / 9:43 am

    A very good piece, though I thought it a shame that you didn't mention Dr Hauschka, who have been organic since their inception in the 60s, and are really the original organic skin care brand. In fact some of their ingredients are bio-dynamic, too. (I have to declare a bias here, since I am a Dr Hauschka Esthetician and Organic Beautician.)

  5. Someone who loves her name, you could tell me Sel.
    September 12, 2015 / 10:04 pm

    I didn't know about this, it's so eye-opening! Thanks for sharing this with us, from now on I'll be more aware of organic products!Have an amazing day

  6. Andy Millward
    September 15, 2015 / 7:32 am

    I think the soil association is great and is a good label for consumers to identify with. However it costs a LOT of money to get that label. I know a lot of great organic brands that simply can't afford their fees. I think it's a shame that these brands are excluded and consumers wouldn't recognise the brands as "organic".

Leave a Reply


Looking for Something?