Many people love to say they like “Natural or organic”, yet they barely know the difference between them. In order to consider yourself a conscientious ”green” consumer or member of a “green” brand, one needs to be aware of the many issues and accreditations that give merit to a “green” product or brand.

Below are just a few seals, issues, and accreditations that one should be familiar with and understand their differences in order to be conscientious about the “green” industry!


Surely you recognize this green-and-white label, and it means the exact same thing on beauty products as it does on food: 95 percent of the ingredients meet USDA National Organic Program standards. Although it may be the most familiar seal, it’s also the most difficult for beauty companies to earn because it was developed for foods and drinks.

This relatively new organic label was developed specifically for personal care products. It indicates that a product contains at least 70 percent organic content, including ingredients certified to European organic standards, which are now more consistent with U.S. standards. It allows for some chemical processes typical of personal care manufacturing that the USDA Organic certification does not.


Natural certifications do exist for personal care products, unlike food. Products that earn the Natural Products Association Natural Seal contain at least 95 percent “truly natural” ingredients (derived from natural sources) and are free of ingredients with any suspected human health risks. It allows non-natural ingredients only with no speculated health issues and no viable natural alternatives.


Do you care about the treatment of the farmers behind your products and about international social and economic development? Fair-trade-certified ingredients must meet various criteria focused on these issues. As part of Fair Trade USA’s composite program, fair-trade personal care products must include 20 percent fair-trade ingredients to obtain this label.


You may be most familiar with Fair Trade USA’s label, but there’s another to look for: The Institute for Market-ecology (IMO) Fair for Life Fair Trade certification indicates that at least half of the product’s ingredients (excluding water) are non-aqueous, non-juice fair-trade ingredients. Products with at least 15 percent fair-trade elements are labeled “Made with Fair for Life Fair Trade Ingredients.”


Developed by eight national animal protection groups that form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, this label indicates that a company uses no animal testing in any product development stage, including at the raw-ingredient level.