5 Things to Remember When Choosing Natural Products

"Natural" and "organic" have become important buzzwords for green-minded parents over the past few years. We strive to provide our families with the healthiest products available…what we put in our bodies, and what we put on our bodies. While the naturals industry has done a great job of bringing natural and organic products to the market, the choices can be overwhelming. When it comes to personal care for our families, it's sometimes difficult to make sense of what "natural" really means. Here are 5 things to remember when you go shopping:

1. Understand that terms "natural" and "organic" are different

Although the FDA does not currently regulate natural products, the agency does provide the following definition: "ingredients extracted directly from plants or animal products as opposed to being produced synthetically." The term organic refers to the process by which the ingredients were grown…without the use of toxic or persistent pesticides. An organic product that carries the USDA seal is held to the same standards as organic food products.

2. Know that natural is, to an extent, in the eye of the beholder

There are no government regulations in place to govern natural skincare and bodycare. This leaves the difficult task of self-regulating to individual brands. If something seems to good to be true? It probably is.

3. Seals can help to guide you in the right direction

In the USA, the Natural Products Association has worked over the past two years to establish a natural products certification program. Products that carry the NPA seal must be made up of at least 95% natural ingredients. In Europe, Ecocert is working to establish natural and organic standards for personal care. Products that carry the Ecocert seal must adhere to the organization's strict ingredient guidelines. Whole Foods Markets created a Premium Body Care™ that allows products to carry a premium seal after demonstrating that they adhere to WFM's ingredient restrictions.

4. Look beyond any seal, and read the ingredient listing

Ingredients may be listed by their chemical name, rather than their common name (i.e., Tocopheryl Acetate is Vitamin E). If you don't recognize (or can't pronounce) some of the ingredients, do a little research. Sites such as The Cosmetics Cop and Cosmetics Info can help you figure out what ingredients really are.

5. Make decisions based on your own concerns and comforts

Natural doesn't always mean better for everyone and every product. I have to avoid some natural products because I am allergic to the extracts that are used. It's always wise to test new products on a small patch of skin to make sure that they'll work for you. Never hesitate to talk to your doctor if you're unsure about using certain products/ingredients on children.

A bonus tip: Word of mouth is a great way to share new products! So tell us…what is your favorite natural product?

This is a post by Katrina Simeck from our sister blog, Parenting Squad. Visit Parenting Squad for more parenting tips and news.


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Guest's picture

When you want natural...

What to look for:
Lack of packaging and ease of identification as animal, vegetable, or mineral

What to avoid:
Large sticker reading "all natural!" or "organic!" or "no chemicals!"