The skin is our body's biggest organ. Eating organic foods helps reduce the amount of chemicals we consume, but how can we protect our skin in the same manner? Our secret shopper visited a natural foods co-op in the Pacific Northwest.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: How can I find organic skin care options?
Retailer: It’s really hard to make 100% organic skin care—it practically has to be edible.
Well, I don’t know if that’s actually true, but yeah, there just aren’t enough organic ingredients available for skin care. There are lot of products made with organic ingredients, but not too many that have the organic seal. Also, those that do tend to be really expensive. That’s another reason we don’t carry very many.
NFM: Is the organic seal the same one used for food?
Retailer: Yep, the green-and-white one—USDA.
NFM: How do I find products that are mostly organic?
Retailer: Just gotta read labels. Most brands will say when an ingredient is organic, so your best bet is to look at the ingredient list.
How did this retailer do?
Our expert educator: Jolene Hart, certified health coach and bestselling author of the Eat Pretty series
This retailer did a great job of conveying the important points in a casual store conversation, and her advice was solid. Only products with 95% or more certified-organic ingredients can bear the USDA Organic seal (any remaining ingredients must come from a preapproved list), so that is an important visual to watch out for—but it’s not the only one. Shoppers can also look for the phrase “made with organic ingredients” or the NSF/ANSI 305 “contains organic ingredients” seal, both of which verify that a product was made with at least 70% organic ingredients. Any product with an organic ingredient content below 70% cannot display either the USDA or NSF/ANSI 305 seal or use the “made with” phrase.
Additionally, shoppers can always scan the ingredients panel to look for organic ingredients, just as this retailer suggested. It may be good to remind them that the ingredients at the beginning of the list are present in larger quantities than those at the end.
As for being edible, just because an ingredient is grown with organic agricultural practices doesn’t make it one you’d want to ingest. I’d advise keeping organic skin care strictly topical!