The next time you spend a pretty penny on lotion, shampoo or cream that claims to be organic or natural, you may want to think twice. So-called "green" products are not always as beneficial as they seem.
"Most of these ingredients in personal care products are not overseen by the FDA," says Lynda Fassa, founder of GreenBabies.com and author of "Green Babies, Sage Moms." "The poor consumer goes to Sephora and sees something that's all-natural or organic, but that doesn't mean anything."
So how can a consumer tell what's authentic? One way is to look for certification. If a product bears the USDA seal, at least 95 percent of the ingredients are organic. Other organic certifiers include EcoCert, OASIS and the Soil Association, but keep in mind that standards vary. For example, OASIS enforces a minimum of 85 percent organic, compared to 95 percent in products with a USDA seal.
Beware, though: Even organic products can contain toxic elements. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, atÂ www.cosmeticdatabase.com, is a good place to background-check those mysterious, multi-syllabic ingredients. Watch out specifically for phthalates, parabens and petrochemicals. Dr. Bronner's and Origins offer numerous products with high organic content, while Nature's Gate, Von Natur and Kiss My Face carry a smattering of high-percent organic goods, as well.
In addition to organic, broader certifiers are emerging to ensure that "natural" products are safe. Look for proof of certification by organizations like Germany's BDIH or the Natural Production Association (NPA), whose seal guarantees that a product is at least 95 percent natural and free of harmful synthetic ingredients. Weleda, Burt's Bees, Dr. Hauschka and Aubrey have good "natural" reputations.
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