Organics - Friend or Foe?

By Cassie Hernandez Director, The Spa at The Broadmoor | July 01, 2012

In the spa world of 2012, the word organic has been tossed around for some time, however the definition relayed to the general public has changed. While retailers, spas and cosmetic companies customarily have some type of organic ingredient in their demographic, not every company incorporates organics for the same reason. Some see organics as offering a higher concentration of pure ingredients and in turn, healthier for the skin while others view organics simply as an ingredient labels which helps sell the product or treatment. And, some see organics as a marketing ploy that doesn't make any difference in retail. Ultimately, we need consumer "buy in" to demand quality organic products on the market.

Understanding the Word "Organic"

Using raw ingredients that are organically grown did not really hit the industry until about a decade ago. Of course, it is an age old theory that the Greek culture perfected-the more pure the ingredient the stronger and more effective it tends to be. While adding organic ingredients to spa products makes sense, many marketing and advertising campaigns have diluted the notion and as a result, consumers are leery when they see the word "organic".

Many consumers do get frustrated with all the various terms used with reference to spa products. Lately some of the more common terms used are organic, certified organic or all natural. While these are all great to see on any packaging, many people do not know the difference between them. "Certified organic" means the product contains extracts from plants according to farming principles verified by a government or independent organization. The word "organic" means the product contains extracts from plants grown without chemical enhancements or pesticides. And, "botanical" or "all natural" means the product contains plant or herb extracts but may have been grown in a farm or factory with certain chemical enhancements.

There also has been a lot of confusion when products state they are all natural vs. organic. There is a difference between the two, a HUGE difference. While both terms are enticing to a consumer, they are not now nor should they ever be interchangeable. The first thing you should understand is that, except for meat, "natural" doesn't have a set, strictly defined or regulated definition, while "organic" does. When you see the word natural on packaging it can attribute a number of things depending on where in the United States you are, who the manufacturer was and what store is carrying the product. The term organic has very strict very specific definitions set forth by the US, when farms grow organic foods and/or fibers, there are farming and production practices defined and regulated, in great detail, by the USDA. Now, the question you may be asking yourself is how this translates into spa products that may have been manufactured overseas. The United States has made several strides with each continent to ensure that any products that are being imported are thoroughly inspected and approved prior to being put on any store shelves. Cosmetic products imported into the United States are subject to the same laws and regulations as those produced in the United States. They must be safe for their intended uses and contain no prohibited ingredients, and all labeling and packaging must be informative and truthful, with the labeling information in English (or Spanish in Puerto Rico). All color additives must be approved by FDA; many cannot be used unless certified in FDA's own laboratories. In simplistic terms, the FDA ensures that every manufacturer is being honest and truthful about what's in the product as well as what the product claims to do.

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