All Natural vs. Organic

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What is the difference when it comes to beauty products?

Over the past few years, going “green” has become mainstream, which is great! But with that comes tons of “green washing” and green marketing — consumers have been bombarded with all kinds of product options and claims. And this is true even of the beauty-product industry.

As conscious consumers, it’s up to us to do our research: online product reviews are a great way to choose a quality green product and so is using the Environmental Workers Database. But there is one key question we need to ask first when choosing beauty products — and it's one we're now used to asking about our food:

What is the difference between all natural and organic?

All natural is a good start if you're just beginning to green your beauty routine, but, not surprisingly, organic is even better. And there are variations in package wording that we should all keep in mind.

“All natural,” “made with natural ingredients” and “naturally sourced botanicals” are very vague terms. Usually products labelled like this contain other ingredients that are far from natural. This is definitely not the case for all products — there are many great ones out there — but you should read the ingredient list, research and ask questions before buying.

Your best bet for natural beauty products is a product is labelled “100% natural."

Here’s a good guideline that I follow: “if an ingredient sounds like a chemical, it probably is.”

Note: If you’re having trouble finding an ingredient list on your beauty product or on the manufacturer's website, take that as a red flag. This could mean the company has something to hide.

Organic beauty products take "natural" one step further. They source organically grown, non-GMO plants and herbs to use in their formulations. These ingredients are farmed without the use of chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, which produces a superior quality product with better efficacy (or, in the case of food, higher nutritional value) and less environmental impact.

A company may even pay for third-party certification to prove they are actually using organic ingredients. For you, this means the product is even more trustworthy.

Another word you may have seen on beauty products is "biodynamic." It's not a new term (dating back to 1924), but has only recently been used to a greater extent in product marketing.

Biodynamic farming is based on the theories of Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner. It's a holistic approach that considers a farm an organism or ecological entity in which humans, plants and animals all play an integral role. (Read more here.) In beauty products, as in wine and food, this means what you're getting may be is a step beyond organic. But, again, make sure you do your research and ask lots of questions before buying.

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Sarah Goble is the creator and owner of LIDO Skin Care, a 100% natural, eco-conscious skin care & baby line. Sarah is very passionate about the environment, yoga and good food, especially French pastries. Previously having trained in Baking and Pastry, Sarah switched gears to skin care and started mixing her own formulations. She has currently relocated from her home from Vancouver, B.C., to Halifax, N.S., where she is excited to grow and expand her business venture.