The global market for organic personal care products is a budding industry, and it's one that's intrinsically tied to the "new green revolution," which is good news for environmental activists. By 2020, the organic personal care market is expected to grow to $15.98 billion, according to findings from Grand View Research, a California-based market research firm.
"Adoption of Montreal Protocol and Kyoto Protocol in the U.S. and Canada for restricting greenhouse gas emissions has forced personal care manufacturers to utilize natural ingredients in their product," reads a press release announcing the findings. "Aforementioned factors for promoting use of natural ingredients in personal care products are expected to favor industry growth over the forecast period."
Regulating organic products: Though the Food and Drug Administration regulates products labeled as organic, the department has yet to adopt a formal definition for the term. "FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA)," the organization explains in a statement. "The term 'organic' is not defined in either of these laws or the regulations that FDA enforces under their authority."
Instead, the Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in charge of the National Organic Program (NOP), which in turn holds brands accountable for labeling standards, which it defines based on the percentage of organic ingredients that make up a given product.
It's important to note that, due to the projection that the organic personal care marketplace is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, many brands are strategizing to get on board. This can, at times, lead to heavy marketing campaigns that can obfuscate a product's actual ingredients.
Natural or nah? Just because a product is organic, that doesn't mean it's innately safer than non-organic products. "An ingredient's source does not determine its safety," reads a statement from the FDA. "For example, many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic."
And the word "natural" carries no weight at all. Brands are free to use the label at their discretion. And big brands that may not have eco-friendly practices in their DNA are looking to get involved — take Clorox's 2007 Burt's Bees acquisition for instance.
"'Natural' has a fairly sturdy antonym — artificial, or synthetic — and, at least on a scale of relative values, it's not hard to say which of two things is 'more natural' than the other: cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup? Chicken or chicken nuggets? G.M.O.s or heirloom seeds?" author Michael Pollan wrote in an April article for the New York Times. "The most natural foods in the supermarket seldom bother with the word; any food product that feels compelled to tell you it's natural in all likelihood is not."
With all that in mind, here's a roundup of seven ecologically-conscious skin care lines to explore, all of which hold organic ingredients as a No. 1 priority. Happy bathing.