How do you make sure that your cosmetics are actually organic?
May 14, 2022
With the new attention being attributed to organic products in skincare, it is no wonder that the market is being flooded with the label. It has become trendy and appealing to use organic products - we believe as a whole that they have fewer chemicals and less processing work, and the increased level of ‘natural’ ingredients may be better for our skin. On top of that, it feeds well into the current movement in sustainability, allowing us to get better skin while still doing our best to take care of the Earth.
The problem is that the concept of something organic is not quite regulated by a universal body, especially not in terms of organic skincare in Singapore. Any label can slap the word ‘organic’ on their products and call it a day, after all.
Check the Labels!
Each country has their own distinct guidelines on how to label something organic. In Singapore, cosmetics labelling follows the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and has followed it since 2008; organic labelling, however, is not followed under it.
Some cosmetics are licensed in other countries and therefore carry the label for it - for instance, if it passes the United States National Organic Program (NOP) qualifications for organic processing under the USDA, it might carry a certain label. Some common markers for organic products may include:
- 100% organic: products bearing this claim are made with completely organic ingredients
- Organic: products bearing this claim are made with 95% 99% organic ingredients by weight
- Made with organic ingredients: the product contains 70% 94% organic ingredients by weight
There is unfortunately no one consistent label, and oftentimes you may find that certain organic labels run by small businesses have great qualified products but no certification purely because they are unable to afford the costs (usually out of reach for small and medium businesses) for certification.
For Dr. Hauschka, all products comply with NATRUE standards. NATRUE is an international non-profit association based in Belgium that is committed to promoting and protecting Natural and Organic Cosmetics worldwide. Since its launch in 2008, NATRUE has set the strictest and highest standards in the industry with regard to the labelling of natural and organic cosmetic products. When you see a product with the NATRUE label, you can be assured that the product is made using only 100% natural, derived natural and nature-identical substances. You can also be assured that the product contains no harmful substances such as GMOs, silicones, parabens, microplastics, synthetic fragrances or mineral oils.
You might be wondering, what is the difference between NATRUE and other labels seen on natural and organic cosmetic products. According to NATRUE:
- There is a binding commitment against greenwashing: The NATRUE label is not granted on a productby-product basis; it is only granted to a brand or sub-brand committed to the production of natural and organic cosmetics.
- Partnatural, part-synthetic ingredients are not allowed in the formulation of products carrying NATRUE’s seal.
- There is an external and impartial certification process: Any product that wants to be certified with the NATRUE Label must undergo a thirdparty certification process carried out by an accredited NATRUE Approved Certifiers.
As such, labels are a great initial way to gauge whether a brand has organic sustainability in mind, but you may want to do more research with the next steps.
Check the Ingredients
As mentioned above, the ‘organic’ label is only one way to tell whether or not something is organic, and many small businesses may not be able to afford the certification or labelling privileges.
Another way to check is by doing some research - the first step is usually to check for ingredients on the packaging of the product or the product itself. The ASEAN Cosmetics Directive governing organic skincare in Singapore mandates the display of every ingredient, with the most prominent components listed first. This includes every ingredient with a weightage of under 1%, so you’ll know even the tiniest bits of what goes into your cosmetics.
While many of the ingredients may sound familiar, others may not. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that scientific sounding names are bad or are not organic skin care - they are simply unfamiliar to us. Many scientific components are extracted from natural ingredients and compounds, but do not have common names. Instead, do some research into any ingredients or components that you might be more concerned about to decide whether or not you are alright with them.
You can do additional research into the company as well - usually, companies that are careful about what goes into their products generally have that care reflected in the company ethos. If the company has a history of non-organic productions and cosmetics, you may want to take that into consideration in terms of how that may affect the organic skin care product you are looking at.
With the commitment of being transparent, Dr. Hauschka ensures that all of their product packaging is labelled with a complete ingredient list.
Not only that, but to help customers who may be unfamiliar with certain ingredients, Dr. Hauschka provides an ingredient glossary on its website which explains the purpose of each and every ingredient. The glossary also states which specific products the ingredient can be found in. If you are interested to learn more about the plant-based ingredients used by Dr. Hauschka, you can read about them here.
Since 1967, Dr. Hauschka has grown many of the ingredients they use in their very own medicinal herb garden using biodynamic cultivation. The farm is located directly behind the oldest company building in Eckwälden, an agricultural town in southern Germany at the foot of the Swabian Jura Mountains. More than 150 types of plants are cultivated here and are used in Dr. Hauschka skin care!
Biodynamic cultivation represents a closed cycle. Seeds are collected and used to grow the next generation of plants. Soil is regarded as a living organism. Plant waste from the garden and the production processes are put in compost bins to mature. Not only can it be used as fertiliser for the beds but mature compost also helps to regulate and mediate the processes in the garden. Dr. Hauschka’s garden is not only sustainable but takes into account all the organisms living in the area to ensure that they are not harmed in the process.
Test the Product - with Samples, if they are Available!
If you’re happy with the product label as well as its ingredients, you should still test for the product’s reactions on your skin! Regardless of how organic something is - and many cosmetics use exotic ingredients nowadays in replacement for specific non-organic ingredients - it may still have an adverse reaction on your skin.
Test it first on the inside of one of your wrists, which is typically as sensitive to products as your face. Wait for fifteen minutes and compare one wrist to the other. If there is even a slight reddishness, you may not be able to use the product, potentially because you might have an allergy to it or because your skin is extra sensitive.
In the former case, you can simply try out other products to gauge which ingredient you are potentially allergic to. In the latter case, we would recommend searching for products that are gentle and specific for sensitive skin. Either way requires you to test the products on your skin over time.
Here at Dr. Hauschka, we offer Trial Sets for this very purpose. Each trial set is designed for a specific skin type. This includes normal skin, combination skin, sensitive skin, dry skin, and mature skin. Each trial set comes with a Cleansing Cream, Toner or Serum, and a Day Cream. From just $17, you are able to try three different products to see if they are suitable for your skin!
Good cosmetics take time to find, especially organic ones that still pair well with your skin. Check the labels and look them up to see what they mean, and look into each ingredient as needed to judge what they are for and whether they are detrimental to your skin. Finally, test the products like any other cosmetic to decide whether these organic skin care products are a good match for your skin - an especially important step for anyone with sensitive skin.