How to Know If Your Makeup Is Really Organic


RMS Beauty

In an oversaturated market like the cosmetics industry, there's a lot of jargon that's often difficult to understand. "Natural" doesn't always mean "organic," and there's a lot of chemicals that aren't required on an ingredients list. Long story short: It's complicated.

"It's not always easy to tell certified organic cosmetics from conventional products," explains Tracy Favre, the director of organic certification programs at Quality Assurance International. "The USDA organic program was not intended for personal care products (such as cosmetics), so a very small number of products qualify to carry the USDA Organic seal. This is why NSF International and Quality Assurance International developed a standard specifically for organic personal care products."

Furthermore, it's about more than simply using organic ingredients. "That's only the first step in creating a product that's not only nontoxic, but that heals and nourishes skin," RMS Beauty's founder, Rose-Marie Swift, writes on the brand's website. "It all comes down to chemistry: When a raw material is processed for use in cosmetics or other beauty products, it typically undergoes a lengthy process. I was surprised to learn that the majority of ingredients used for natural cosmetics are refined, bleached, deodorized, clarified, fractionated, and heated to high temperatures. Complicating matters more, the processes strip away almost all the nutrients that make natural ingredients beneficial to skin."

In order to make things a little less difficult to dissect, I had Favre make a short list of things to look for when seeking out natural makeup. She breaks it down below.

Want more information? Here's the beginner's guide to natural and organic beauty brands.