This is the focus of the Organic Consumer Association's Coming Clean campaign, and last week, the USDA National Organic Standards Board passed a recommendation that may help clear up the confusion. According to its proposed "Solving the Problem of Mislabeled Organic Personal Care," any personal care product using the word "organic" must have USDA certification to back it up (keep in mind, the USDA only regulates personal care that is made up entirely of agricultural ingredients). The recommendation states:
At a given retailer, one may find personal care products such as shampoos and lotions labeled as 'organic' with no clear standards or regulatory underpinning for the organic claim - and unless the product is specifically labeled as 'USDA Organic,' the word 'organic' may be used with impunity. Manufacturers of personal care products that contain organic ingredients are hindered by a thicket of competing private standards and confusion regarding the applicability of the NOP to their products. Transactions lack the regulatory clarity that applies under the NOP to food products that contain organic ingredients.
Personal Care companies that currently have USDA certification include: Alteya Organics, Baby Bear Shop, Badger, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Indian Meadow Herbals, Intelligent Nutrients, Kimberly Parry Organics, Little Angel, Mercola, Nature's Paradise, Organicare, Organic Essence, Origins Organics, Purely Shea, Rainwater Organic Lotion, Rose Tattoo Aftercare, Seasons of the Soul, SoCal Cleanse, Sensibility Soaps/Nourish, Terressentials, Trillium Organics, Vermont Soap.
The Organic Consumers Association offers these quick tips for buying organic body care:
1. Avoid conventional detergents and preservatives, particularly with the following ingredients: Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Lauryl Sacrosinate, Potassium Cocyl Glutamate, Parabens, and Phenoxyetganol. And make sure liquid soaps are made from organic oils
2. Look for certified organic, rather than "pure natural" essential oils.
3. Don't be fooled by hydrosols and long lists or organic herbal water extracts, which are mostly ordinary water.