These days, many opt for organic whenever possible - organic produce, organic fabrics, organic skincare products, etc. However, many pledge to shop, eat, and use organic products without having a real understanding of what it means.
What does it mean? How can you be sure that the product or ingredient in question is really, truly organic? Why is it impossible for some ingredients to be organic? And finally, what does this mean in the context of skincare?
what does ‘organic’ actually mean?
Let’s start with the basics. What does the word ‘organic’ technically signify?
The USDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture, states that materials can be certified organic if they are, “certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. In instances when a grower has to use a synthetic substance to achieve a specific purpose, the substance must first be approved according to criteria that examine its effects on human health and the environment.”
Essentially, to be correctly called “organic,” materials must be grown and processed without interacting with any artificial substances or additives.
Additionally, a product can only be labelled ‘USDA Organic’ if it contains at least 95% organic ingredients (not including salt and water). The remaining 5% must be ingredients that are included on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, which details synthetic substances or materials that ARE allowed and natural substances or materials that are NOT allowed in organic farming and production.
why can’t some ingredients be organic?
The above definition, created by the USDA, requires that materials must grow in the ground to be called ‘organic.’ Therefore, many ingredients are immediately disqualified from being certified organic - minerals, salts, clays, like the ones we use in our sea kale clay mask, etc.
Water cannot be organic, unless it comes from a plant (ie, organic rosewater).
Ingredients made out of organic materials which are then processed and transformed into something else cannot be organic. For example, the caprylic/capric triglyceride that we use to formulate our texture smoothing cream and pore refining concentrate is derived from organic oils, but since it’s been altered to be able to serve a function in our formula, it can no longer be labelled ‘organic.’
Another example is the caramel in our sleep mask - it’s derived from the sugars of organic corn. However, the process of transforming it into caramel (burning it) makes the end product technically non organic.
so, what does ‘organic’ mean in the context of skincare?
Essentially, though it’s great to opt for organic when you can, skincare formulated with some nonorganic ingredients should not automatically be discounted as bad for you. It’s also helpful to keep the grow-from-the-ground rule in mind - tons of great, effective ingredients, like glacial oceanic clay, are immediately disqualified from the “organic” label, no matter how pure or unadulterated their production is.
At cocokind, we do our best to always use organic ingredients when we can. Some of our formulas are even 100% organic! When we don’t use organic ingredients, it’s usually because the organic option of an ingredient isn’t available, sustainably, for us to use at scale.
We keep long-term organic availability and sourcing in mind when we formulate our products. And of course, if an ingredient isn’t organic, we ensure that it’s produced and sourced responsibly, without the use of harmful toxins along the way.
we hope this helps clarify what organic really means, especially in the context of skincare! any questions? drop them below!