The Happy USDA Organic Accident

Ellery West Uncategorized Leave a Comment

USDA Organic certification of cosmetics products is the world’s most meaningful organic standard because it excludes the use of toxic chemicals that other organic standards allow. This did not come about because of superior American foresight and wisdom, but because of a big industry blunder.

When most national organic cosmetic standards were developed, stakeholders such as manufacturers, distributors and a few members of the public hash out what they consider to be allowed in the new standard. Since industry has all the money, they have the loudest voice. Large mass-market brands place a high priority on low cost, product performance and don’t worry about consumer long-term health. This is why Eco Cert allows the use of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and other detergents in their cosmetics standard. European brands recognized that consumers would increasingly place a higher value on organic over time, so they bent it to satisfy their needs.

On the other hand, the American cosmetic industry had an enormously successful and long track record with their marketing so they dismissed the need to form an accommodating organic standard. Their reasoning may have been “Our marketing should always work, so why bother with forming an organic standard”. For the most part they were right, just look at the continuing success of “natural” cosmetics. Even today, most American consumers believe that natural is relatively chemical-free and ‘safe’ even though the ingredient panels are full of unpronounceable chemical names.

In the early 2000’s, small brands and interested parties petitioned the then USDA Organic food standard to expand the standard to include non-food agricultural products. And the USDA National Organic Program agreed, so long as they followed the food rules. Now, it’s called an ‘agricultural’ standard. To this day, USDA Organic body care and cosmetics products are certified organic as-if they were food.

And that is what we think organic body care and cosmetics should be – non-toxic chemical, food grade organic. But it was an accident. Had the American cosmetics and body care industries not miscalculated the future demand for chemical-free, they would have diminished the meaning of USDA Organic as their European counterparts did with Eco Cert.

What are Phthalates and How Can I Avoid Them?

Organic Essence Uncategorized Leave a Comment


Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.  They are used in hundreds of cosmetics and personal care products, including perfume, hair spray, soap, shampoo, nail polish, and skin moisturizers. And in consumer products such as flexible plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl miniblinds, food packaging, and plastic wrap.

Phthalates, such as DEHP, are chemicals used to make plastic soft, including plastic food wrap. DEHP has been shown to affect male reproductive development, sperm quality, and male hormone levels in laboratory and human studies.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical often used in hard plastic bottles and the epoxy resin lining of food, beverage cans and plastic production for containers like water bottles. It has been associated with effects on the developing brain, and breast and prostate cancer in laboratory studies.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL:  phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance. Read the labels on nail products, and choose options that do not contain DBP. Some nail product labels indicate they are “phthalate-free.” Products that list “fragrance” on the label should be avoided to prevent possible exposure to phthalates.

At Organic Essence, our level of concern is not only what organic ingredients that you put on your body, but how they are being “delivered”. We go the extra mile with our Packaging for Life to produce products and packaging that achieve the highest level of purity.




What’s with ‘natural’ anyways?

Organic Essence Uncategorized Leave a Comment

The term ‘natural’ traditionally meant ‘something from nature’, unadulterated. Since the Synthetic Chemical Revolution – which started around 150 years ago – the term has taken on the additional meaning that something does not contain synthetic chemicals or has not been overly manipulated. Over the last two generations, the term has taken on even more importance since the pace of chemical innovation and use has exploded.

Unfortunately, marketers have abused the term so much, ‘natural’ has become almost meaningless for a lot of people. For those who are serious about avoiding unnecessary chemical exposure, the term ‘natural’ has taken on the added meaning of ‘deliberate deception’.

Chemical exposure isn’t always bad. In fact, the advent of mildly poisoning municipal water with chlorine has saved literally millions of people from suffering waterborne illness and even death. That does not mean that heedless exposure is necessarily safe. Modern living exposes all of us to almost countless chemicals every day, and it’s in our own self-interest to be conscious of what we are exposing ourselves to.

Why take on unnecessary chemical exposure if you don’t need to? This is the point of Organic. It’s an easy way to know what you are getting, or better yet, to know what you’re not getting.

Why USDA Organic?

Organic Essence Uncategorized 2 Comments

BEYOND NATURAL: At Organic Essence, we’re beyond “natural” and “conventional” with our USDA Certified Organic bodycare products. We source the highest quality ingredients from organic farms and suppliers. And, we share your concerns for the environment and future generations with our “Packaging for Life” commitment.

QUICK SUMMARY of USDA: The “Gold Standard” is considered certification by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). This is the same standard used to certify organic food, and it is the only standard in the U.S. recognized by law. The two most common levels of “organic” certification under the NOP are for products that are over 95% organic by content (which may bear the USDA Organic seal) and for products that are between 70-95% organic (which may not bear the seal, but may instead say “Made with Organic…”).

Organic Essence makes only 95%-100% organic products which are free from pesticide residues, unnecessary synthetic chemicals, and synthetic fertilizers and phthalates leaching from plastic containers that can potentially harm your health.

Natural Is Not Safe Enough

Gail West Uncategorized 1 Comment

What is Natural?

Most people think the term ‘natural’ means that a product is safer than other products. Natural product advertising feeds this perception with near-universal use of clean landscape imagery filled with happy good-looking models. But so often  the most natural thing many brands have to offer is their attractive advertising. Most natural products are the same as conventional because they are made with the same chemical detergents, fragrances and biocides – also known as: ‘preservatives’.

Why Does Anyone Care About Natural?

The whole point of natural products being safer is that they shouldn’t harm us with dangerous chemicals. A brief Wikipedia article nicely explains this: And that is where things get complicated because how does anyone know which currently-thought-of-as-safe chemicals won’t turn out to be dangerous in the near future? That is why people who are able to take care of themselves and their families choose to avoid as many unnecessary chemicals as possible. Why play bad odds? Organic Essence says: When you need chemicals, it’s great to have them. But why expose yourself to chemicals when you don’t need them? Casual, unthinking exposure causes enormous misery.

How is Organic Different?

Organic is about avoiding as many unnecessary chemicals as possible. Natural is just taking some marketer’s word for “our chemicals are safer”.  This is why ‘natural’ is not safe enough. In the body care and health industry, the overwhelming response to the question: “What does natural mean?” is “Nothing.” Nothing as in the term has become meaningless because of marketing misuse. It may be that the term ‘natural’ is worse than nothing, because it deceives people into thinking that they are avoiding chemicals when they aren’t. In many cases ‘natural’ products are no safer than conventional products because they use the same chemicals. Just take a few minutes the next time you visit the supermarket and scan a few product ingredient panels in the skincare aisle.