What’s the difference between Natural, Organic and Certified Organic?

Trying to live a greener life can be a daunting task. All you want, is to introduce less chemicals into your daily life and suddenly you start to notice all the clever marketing and long scary words like Tocopheral (fancy word for vitamin E).

With so many different buzzwords, industry lingo and clever marketing, it’s often hard to understand what’s really in the skin care products you are about to purchase. When you hear that our skin absorbs on average up to 64 % of what we apply to it you want to be making informed choices.

Here’s a little guide to help you learn the difference between natural, organic and certified organic skin care products.


A ‘natural’ ingredient is considered to be anything that’s a plant, mineral or animal by-product. However, because products labelled as natural aren’t regulated by any governing body, brands can use the word natural on their packaging whenever they like.

For example, a moisturiser that contains only a handful of natural skin care ingredients can claim it’s natural, despite the addition of synthetic ingredients.

Much like when you are in the supermarket, flip it over and check out the ingredients list.

The ingredients will be listed in order of percentage from highest to lowest, so if you’re trying to limit synthetic ingredients, make sure they’re always listed towards the bottom.


FUN FACT – The most common natural ingredient in skincare products is water (aqua). Other natural ingredients include salt, clay, wild botanicals, berries and herbs.


OUR TIP – Look for the ones with the highest percentage of natural ingredients. If it has organic ingredients, it is a plus.




When you see ‘organic’ it refers to how an ingredient was farmed – it must be prepared and grown without pesticides, chemical fertilisers, growth hormones or antibiotics.

It’s worth noting, however, that just because a product uses the term organic on its packaging, it doesn’t mean it’s 100 per cent organic.

For products that contain up to 70% organic ingredients the word organic is only allowed to be used in front of the applicable ingredients in the ingredients list on the back only.

If the product isn’t certified organic it can use the words ‘made with’ and ‘contains’ loosely.
For example a product could contain 20 ingredients and if just one of those is certified organic jojoba oil, the manufacturer can claim the product is ‘made with’ certified organic ingredients even if the rest of the ingredients aren’t organic.

The Australian Certified Organic association states that for a product to display a recognized certification logo, a product must contain between 70-94 per cent organic ingredients to wear the Certified Organic claim.

Don’t let the scientific names of skin care ingredients fool you into thinking they’re actually something nasty. For example, Ascorbyl Glucoside sounds scary, right? It actually comes from Ascorbic Acid AKA Vitamin C which is a hero skincare ingredient and awesome antioxidant. Make sure to consult Dr Google for anything you are unsure about


FUN FACT – On the label it can be stated that 15% of ingredients are from certified organic farming and 95% are of natural origin. That 15% sounds like a small amount, right? Well, most skincare products are water-based and water cannot be certified as organic. Additionally, some products may contain ingredients that are 100% natural but as they are not organically farmed they cannot be certified organic.



OUR TIP – Even if a product’s label declares the product to be organic look for a certification logo like Australian Certified Organic (ACO) to make sure the claims have been audited and verified by a third party.

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