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What To Look For On Skin Care Product Labels For Vegan Or Organic

Originally posted August 29, 2014.

Most people will agree that organic products are safer, both for the consumer and the environment. If you have certain skin conditions that are irritated by synthetic ingredients, using organic products may also help you to control the symptoms. However, determining whether a product is truly organic and/or vegan-friendly can be challenging. Product labels are often misleading and even products that aren’t organic may be described as all-natural or even use the word organic on the label. To accurately identify organic skin care products, use the guide below.

Misleading Statements

According to the Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Company, many of the statements on product labels can cause consumers to draw false conclusions. For example, if the label says made with 100% natural/organic ingredients, consumers often believe that ALL ingredients in the product are natural or organic. In reality, this statement is referring to a few select ingredients that happen to be natural or organic. In many cases, one of the natural ingredients is water.

Red Flags

Regardless of what claims are made on a product’s main label, the list of ingredients will often tell you the real story. To identify products that are not truly organic, look out for the following ingredients:

  • Synthetic – Synthetic ingredients are man-made, which means that they are not natural or organic in any way. Many of these products may be deemed safe even though little is known about their effects on the human body.

  • Perfume– Perfumes are man-made chemicals that may be harmful.

  • Parfum – Parfum is another word for perfume, which is not a naturally-occurring substance.

  • Fragrance – Like Parfum and Perfume, this is a red flag that the product is not organic.

  • Paraben – Parabens are chemicals used to prevent the growth of microbes in cosmetics. These chemicals are non-organic and may be harmful.

  • Derived from – Compounds that have been derived from natural substances are no longer natural. Don’t be fooled by this statement.

Finding the Best Skin Care Products

Product labels may include a variety of statements that could trick you into thinking they are natural, organic, environmentally-friendly and/or vegan. However, the only way to know for certain that the skincare product you are purchasing is truly organic is to choose products that have been certified as organic by the USDA.

More about USDA Certification

The USDA offers three tiers of certification based on the ingredients a product contains:

  • Made with Organic Ingredients indicates that at least 70 percent of the ingredients are organic and all other ingredients are on the USDA’s approved list of non-organic ingredients.

  • Organic indicates that at least 95 percent of the ingredients are organic and the remaining ingredients are on the USDA’s approved list of non-organic ingredients.

  • 100% Organic indicates that all ingredients are organically grown and produced.

For consumers interested in only organic products, the best skin care products are those that are labeled 100% organic or vegan; however, a product made with organic ingredients is often preferable to one that is not certified by the USDA at all.

Featured images:

  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source:

+Dr.Cheryl Lee Eberting is a dermatologist who has dedicated her career to research and treatment of skin ailments at


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