Navigating the world of clean beauty can be HARD. There's natural, organic, homeopathic, nontoxic, cruelty free, paraben free, environmentally friendly, sulfate free, synthetic-free, and the list goes on. For someone just dipping their toes into clean beauty it can be difficult to determine what all of these terms actually mean and if what they're purchasing is actually good for them.
The two words, natural and organic, stir up a big debate for green beauty lovers. They're often used interchangeably within the industry to describe skincare, makeup, body care, and everything in-between. While switching out your beauty products to natural or organic is always a better option, there is in fact a significant difference between the two. Heck- there's even a difference between all-natural, natural, organic, and certified organic.
It's important when choosing clean products to always read the label. This will help you decide which product is the best option for you and weed out any that may contain harsh chemicals. Keep reading to find out what terms "organic" and "natural" really mean!
natural beauty products
Natural products are defined by having 50-70% of the ingredients as chemical free. Surprised? Me too. What's more shocking is that there are currently ZERO regulations regarding the use of the word natural like there are with organic. Meaning that you can basically slap a label on anything and call it natural. Pretty scary.
Many companies are aware of this and take advantage by greenwashing. This is basically where a company plays on the idea of being "all natural" by placing words or imagery strategically. The buyer then thinks because this product is natural, that it's going to be better for them and better for their overall health. However, once you start to dig a little bit deeper into the ingredients you start to find that the product you purchased wasn’t at all what you were expecting.
organic beauty products
Organic products are defined by having 95-100% of their ingredients as chemical free. If a label states "certified organic" it means that 95% of the ingredients are organic while "made with organic ingredients" only contains around 70% organic substance. Organic products are much more strictly regulated than natural products and are not allowed to contain chemicals of any kind (yay!).
other notable terms
Plant based means that the product is generally made from botanical ingredients. These products are typically 80-100% naturally occurring but can still contain synthetic chemicals and dyes (read the label!).
Cruelty free means that none of the ingredients were tested on animals. Cruelty free products are typically easy to spot as they're stamped with the leaping bunny logo. The leaping bunny website is another great resource as it contains a compiled list of major beauty brands. Smaller, Indie brands might not be leaping bunny certified but just making sure the packaging says cruelty free!
Vegan products are free of all animal by-products. This includes gelatin, collagen, lanolin, and squalene. Vegan beauty products aren't necessarily organic or natural, they can be filled with chemicals- so again, make sure you're still checking the label!
some great natural and organic brands
My Favorite Skincare Brands:
Tried and true, these brands are some of my all-time faves.
Banish Acne Scars
Fan Favorite Skincare:
Skincare I've seen floating around on the web or promoted by popular beauty bloggers.
Some cult classics and favorites I've tried over the years!
How to Check Your Products:
The good news is that you don't need to know every single ingredient or chemical before purchasing a product. is a great resource for checking your products ingredient list. All you have to do is simply type in the product or brand you are looking for and it will give you all the information you need. If you're busy or on the go, you can easily scan items in with the Think Dirty app to determine their toxicity, interference with the reproductive system, and overall carcinogenic rating.