Buyer Beware
Of 'natural' Beauty

When it comes to how you moisturize, lather or make up, many Americans strive to apply products that are as natural as possible. But how can you tell if the cosmetics and personal care products that line store shelves and fill medicine cabinets are the level of natural that you expect?

Woman reading cosmetic labelNatural personal care products on the rise

Today, 63 percent of people are more conscious of the natural ingredients that go into personal care products than five years ago. Countless personal care products claim to be natural, but how do you know if you can trust their claims? In fact, 13,000 new "natural" beauty products were introduced just last year and 5,000 new products have hit shelves this year, nearly half of which were in the personal care category.

How to tell if your beauty products are really natural

The Natural Products Association (NPA), the oldest and largest natural products trade group in the United States, has developed the Natural Personal Care Products Seal, which determines a standard for all products that are labeled or branded "natural." What this means is that all beauty and personal care products marked with the Natural Products Seal are made with at least 95 percent all-natural ingredients. All of the ingredients come from or are made from a renewable resource found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral), and contain absolutely no petroleum compounds.

Some tips to help determine how natural a personal care product really is:

1Read the label

Ingredients on the back are the most important -- avoid non-natural ingredients like parabens.

2Do your research

Visit the NPA's website (www.npainfo.org), which lists all of the personal care products that have received the Natural Products Seal.

3Pass it on

Tell your friends about the NPA seal and how it helps consumers identify whether a personal care product is truly natural. Word of mouth is powerful!

4Recognize participating brands

The following companies are just a few of the brands with natural personal care products that have been certified by the Natural Products Association and bear the Natural Products Seal:

  • Burt's Bees
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Bioelements
  • J.R. Watkins
  • Wet n Wild
  • Yes To Carrots

Personal Care Seal

Two years ago, the NPA launched this first certification program for personal care products that bill themselves as natural. With the success of the Personal Care Seal – it has already certified nearly 300 products – the NPA has turned its attention to the exploding "natural home care" category. In February, the NPA launched the Natural Home Care Seal to help consumers choose natural products at a single glance. In June, the first certified products – a selection of cleaning products from Clorox Green Works – hit store shelves.

The NPA seal is the first standard focused exclusively on the verification of natural ingredients and products, providing a system that will help consumers more easily discern which products meet its high standard of "natural." The federal FDA has not established a formal definition for the term "natural," so when it comes to personal care and beauty products, unless a product displays the Natural Products Seal, it may not contain all natural ingredients and may not be manufactured naturally.

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