The Great Organic Cosmetic Shakeout

Source: Andrew Flack

For those of us who look for the organic seal on cosmetics and personal care products, come this October identifying them on store shelves will be more of a challenge. In a recent ruling that will affect all products currently using the seal, the USDA has reversed its position of May 2002 that encouraged manufacturers of personal care products to seek organic certification.

The reversal of the ruling leaves companies like Dr. Bronner’s, Aura Cacia, Sensibility Soaps, and Nude Lubricants with millions of dollars invested in certified food-grade organic products and packaging that can longer use the organic seal. Go figure.

The good news for consumers is that the Organic Trade Association is working independently with manufacturers to develop a new set of guidelines that will simplify the process for manufacturers and bring assurance to consumers that the products they purchase are what they claim to be.

“While the USDA has been on-again, off-again, we hope to have new simplified organic personal care guidelines in place in the next year or two that will legitimize the industry,” says Mindy Seiffert, Aura Cacia category manager. “Our ingredients won’t change, just the way they’re regulated.”

In the meantime, be a savvy consumer and read the label. The words “organic” or “made with organic ingredients” can still be used…just not the USDA seal!

Managing Editor, Andrew Flack has written for many publications, including Midwest Home & Design, where he also served as editor for a year, Taos Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Facilities Management Journal, and Urban Land.