The word organic is not properly regulated on personal care as it is on food products.

So many personal care products are falsely labeled as “organic”.

Products have the word “organic” in their brand name or otherwise on their product label, but unless they are certified, the main cleansing ingredients and preservatives are usually made with synthetic and petrochemical compounds.

What this does is hurt the organic industry, mislead the consumer, and basically steal the market from true certified organic companies – like Pure and Green organics.

Fed up with the deceptive organic labeling and advertising of personal care products, we saw the filing in US federal court a complaint by the US organic consumers association along with certified organic personal care brands Dr Bronner’s and some others a complaint requesting action on the widespread and blatantly deceptive labeling practices of leading so-called “organic” personal care brands, in violation of the federal organic law.  The complaint argues that, because of USDA inaction, products such as liquid soaps, body washes, facial cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, and make-up are advertised, labeled and marketed as “Organic” or “organics” when, in fact, the products are not “Organic” as understood by reasonable consumers.

Ground breaking stuff !

The 12 brands that are the subject of the complaint can be viewed at www.organicconsumers.org. Please take the time to check out the list as there are some big names there that are available for sale in Australia and worthy of your attention.  Sorry for the inconvenience, I did have them listed here previously but due to a complaint from one of the brands felt it better to remove and direct you to the site of the parties involved in the case.

But before you check out the list  I want to clarify that your reason for buying these brands is important here. If you are buying them because you believe they are organic, and by that I mean leave certification aside and go for the reasonable everyday definition of organics say “no petrochemical ingredients, free from pesticides and synthetic/toxic ingredients”.  If this is your belief, then you have been fooled.  If, on the other hand you are buying these brands because you believe they are natural, then go right ahead.  The argument here is in how they are presented to the market which ultimately influences your buying choice.  If these brands simply claimed to be “natural” they would not be  being discussed in this blog.  The issue is that they crossed the line when they made deceptive claims to entice you to buy.   I am not making any remarks about the quality or performance of the brands, simply their labelling choices.

Now we should point out that while there are literally dozens of names that could have been listed, the complaint focused on brands that had no organic content at all in at least one of their products.  None.

As is often the way with an industry in trouble, these fake organic brands are seeking to expand into new markets because they are under attack in the US.  And guess which country has just started to stock in national chain stores two of the brands listed here?  Australia!  It’s a bit like the tobacco companies, once they were no longer able to advertise their toxic products, they started to sell heavily into the third world.

Now, we certainly don’t want Australia to turn into the organic third world so the rest of the blogs this week are  going to focus on  how you can identify a real organic product  and how to read labels effectively to make a wise, informed choice.

One way or another, the era of ripping off organic consumers in personal care will soon come to an end.

Check out this video link to a protest organised by the organic consumers association at an  organic expo in April 2010.  The aim was to educate expo visitors that these  fake “organic shampoo brands” should be given a miss.

More to come, we will take a look at certification logos, what they mean and how to identify a REAL organic product.

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10 Comments on Beware organic cheater brands

  1. nalinie says:

    Hi,

    Can you please send the list of the 12 products I could not find it in the website.

    Thanks
    Nlainie

    • Grace says:

      Hi Nalinie, here is the list.

      Organic Cheater Brand Labels and/or Ads:

      * Jason “Pure, Natural & Organic”
      * Avalon “Organics”
      * Kiss My Face “ObsessivelyOrganic”
      * Nature’s Gate “Organics”
      * Stella McCartney “100% Organic”
      * Giovanni “Organic Hair Care”
      * Head “Organics”
      * Desert Essence “Organics”
      * Ilike “Organic Skin Care”
      * Eminence
      * “Organic” Wear
      * Sapien “Certified Organic”
      * “Organic” Bath Co.
      * Goodstuff “Organics”

      • Ann says:

        Hi Grace, As a beauty therapist that has worked with a Naturopath in a natural health spa environment, I am totally surprise and shocked to see in your list Eminence and Ilike organic skin care cheaters list. I have been using the eminence brand for the past two years and had not have any reaction to the moisturises even thought I have reacted severely to some other know brands. I am wondering where you get the information from about these two brands. There are one of my favourites and it hurts to know they are cheaters. I have used well know Australian organic brands like miessence and savi organics (both lovely products) to which my skin had a bad allergic reaction so I am not sure where to turn to now for the real deal.

        • Grace says:

          Hi Ann, we removed names in our blog post and directed readers to the organic consumers website which contains full details. Eminence do have some products that are certified organic under the USDA program, they were being named by the organic consumers association based on the representation that all their products were certified organic when in fact only a few met the standard. At the end of the day if you are reacting to a certified organic product it is most likely the preservative system or essential oils used. I would check the allergen content – the manufacturers should be able to provide you with that, and try to work out what you are reacting to so that you can avoid that in the future. Its not the brand that you are reacting to but an ingredient. The point of the blog post was to highlight the meaning of the word organic and for consumers to realise what they are buying. If Eminence works great for your skin and you buy them for that reason, not because you want every product to be certified organic, then keep buying them as you will be making an informed decision.

  2. Lisa T says:

    Hi Grace

    Great blog. I love your detail and passion on this stuff. I am still reccomending you and telling people how lovely your products are !! Hope things are going well for you.

    BTW you have a few spam comments coming through on your blog comments.

    Take care

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi, I went onto the website to check the 12 brands, but couldn’t find them. Could you let me know the link.
    Thanks :o)

  4. Jenny says:

    It’s so easy to be fooled by ‘greenwash’. Even just recently I bought some ‘organic’ shampoo when I was in hurry and mistakenly grabbed the brand next to the brand I thought I was buying (in a health food store). I had a reaction to the product – I’ll spare you the details! – and stopped using it. I wasn’t surprised at all to see it on the cheaters list that I got in my inbox a couple of days later. This organic shampoo and conditioner cost me $17.95 each 🙂

    I’m glad there are people exposing these brands, and of course grateful for standards organisations such as ACO and companies like Pure & Green.

    Cheers!

  5. […] Beware organic cheater brands | Pure and Green Organics […]

    • Grace says:

      Hmmm, well teasing the hair will ultimately damage it so I don’t really recommend doing that, but if you must I would look for a natural hair spray that doesn’t contain synthetic polymers. Be aware, that a truly natural hairspray that is polymer free will contain a sugary/sticky component, generally from citrus fruits or glycerine combined with gum and these may attract bees, so I give you this recipe with that warning in mind: Chop one orange. Place in a pot with 2 cups water. Boil until half of the initial amount remains. Cool, strain, and place in a spray bottle. Store in the refrigerator. If it is too sticky, add more water. Fridge life: approx one week.