Which Is Greener: Natural or Organic? Learning to Make Wise Choices

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You want to live green, to do what’s best for the planet, and the label on that all natural moisturizer makes it sound so good – and so good for you and the environment. Is it? Maybe, but note there is a difference between “natural” and “organic.”

Let’s take a look. I have a hand and body lotion with, “ALL NATURAL” prominent on the label. It uses aloe, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, shea butter and a half dozen other botanicals. Its sounds wonderful, smells great and is, quite frankly, lovely to use. No one ever said natural or even conventional skin care products don’t make your skin softer, firmer, or younger looking.

Besides the above named ingredients there are several chemical sounding names, which I looked up. Turns out nothing in there is listed as harmful, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. So what’s wrong with it? Not much, but something significant. None of those botanicals are labeled organic. Even the most natural ingredients could bring with it pesticides or weed killers, and that’s not ideal.

You know the old saying, “In for a penny, in for a pound?” If you’re going to go for healthy, don’t stop halfway. Do your best to make sure what you’re using is the healthiest it can be. Notice I’m hedging a little saying, “do your best,” because, really that’s all any of us can do. Even products labeled organic may be only 60% organic and contain 40% chemicals that may not be so good for us.

Keep in mind that all companies, whatever their ingredients, are concerned about the bottom line – how much money they can make. A few years ago it was “cool” to be all- natural. It was a big change from conventional skin care and labels abounded with “NATURAL.” Now, it’s just as cool to be labeled organic, and everyone who possibly can wants to get in on the action, and the profits. We need to check labels carefully.

Anyone, legally, can use the term, “Natural,” and you can find botanicals, minerals and other naturally occurring substances in them. I recommend them over conventional products. BUT… since you can have one or two natural ingredients mixed with chemical preservatives and man-made ingredients, look closely at the label.

The same thing happens with organic products. “Organic” may be prominently displayed on the label, but unless it says, “USDA Organic,” you don’t know just what you’re getting. A product has to be at least 95% organic to earn that label. You should be easily able to find that symbol because anyone whose products qualify for it wants to brag about it.

So, what’s a well-intentioned person to do? Read labels and educate yourself on good and harmful ingredients. Learn what choices are wise and what are not, and go easy on yourself.

I’m not the organic police, and I’m not going to chastise you for using all natural or conventional moisturizers, cleansers, scrubs or anything else. I may even, from time to time, review an all-natural product on my blog. My self-appointed job is to let you know the differences between conventional, natural, and organic and to let you know you don’t have to give up anything great to switch to organic. More and more organic products are available these days (even some from conventional skin care lines you’ve used for years) that can do the job of helping your skin become softer, more resilient, and younger looking. Rest assured, you’ll be giving your skin nourishment it needs to stay younger looking longer, AND, you can glow with good health at the same time!


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