The skin care industry is inundated with labels: nontoxic, natural, organic, hypoallergenic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, as well as a host of industry labels confirming purity or sourcing.

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The reality is that very few of these claims are regulated or verified by a reputable authoritative body. The cosmetic industry is a buyer-beware market, but the following distinctions can shed light on what’s in a skin care label.

Organic

The cosmetic industry falls under the purview of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and is regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labelling Act. However, the term “organic” is controlled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program, in accordance with the Organic Food Production Act.

The USDA organic label means that the agency has verified that a product’s ingredients were produced in accordance with federal standards and verified by an accrediting agent. Organizations must be able to demonstrate that at least 95% of the ingredients were grown without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically-modified organisms, and processed according to strict cleanliness standards.

Products can still be organic without the USDA label. When looking for organic skin care, always review the ingredient list to verify what is in a given product. If a cream or lotion includes a lot of synthetic preservatives or genetically-modified ingredients, you can assume it’s not organic. That said, products that contain some organic ingredients can still be quite potent, and certified nontoxic skin care is something well worth looking into before you put a product on your face.

Nontoxic

The FDA does not regulate the term “nontoxic,” though there are several trustworthy third party certifications that enforce strict nontoxic standards, such as MADE SAFE™.

Nontoxic usually refers to products made without ingredients that can bioaccumulate in our bodies and interfere with our hormones or nervous system. Look for products that are made without the “Toxic 10,” which are harmful ingredients often found in shampoos, lotions, and nail polish. These include parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, phthalates, oxybenzone, lead, aluminum, triclosan, polyethylene glycols, and hydroquinone.

Natural

There is no FDA definition regulating the use of the word “natural.” Natural skin care typically alludes to ingredients from plant materials such as herbs, flowers, or essential oils, or natural substances such as beeswax. While you should always review the ingredient list, there are strict third-party certifications that can also verify a company’s claim of using natural ingredients.

Hypoallergenic

According to the FDA, hypoallergenic cosmetics are “products that manufacturers claim produce fewer allergic reactions than other cosmetic products.” The FDA adds, “The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean. Manufacturers of cosmetics labeled as hypoallergenic are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenicity claims to FDA.” Given this, one might want to take a hypoallergenic claim with a grain of salt and be sure to still look into the product and its ingredients thoroughly before use.

Third-Party Certifications

There is a wide range of third-party certifications within the cosmetic industry, and some are stricter than others. One of the leading independent labels is MADE SAFE™, a nontoxic certification verified by scientists that a product’s ingredients and supply chain are entirely free of endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, parabens, SLS and SLES, synthetic fragrance, phthalates, GMOs, gluten, and animal cruelty. A MADE SAFE™ certification can give consumers a vote of confidence that they have the right product in their hands.

About True Botanicals

True Botanicals believes in pure and potent skin care treatments that are proven with independent clinical trials. Their high-performing moisturizers and oils, including face oil for oily skin, are designed to nourish, replenish, and hydrate skin with botanical extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and essential oils. True Botanicals’ products are made with independently certified-nontoxic ingredients and are gluten-free, non-GMO, cruelty-free, and Leaping Bunny certified. It’s also the first skin care company that has taken the time and care to ensure its entire product line is MADE SAFE™ certified.

Browse the entire line of nontoxic skin care products at Truebotanicals.com