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Natural vs Organic

What is the difference between natural and organic?

Initially, the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ were used to describe products made with ingredients that came from nature.  Unfortunately, as soon as marketers learned that consumers enjoyed the idea of non-synthetic products, the words began to appear on all sorts of products, whether they were truthful or not. It’s called green-washing, and it’s possible because consumers have to be well-informed in order to distinguish frauds from the real deal. 

Honest, natural products contain ingredients from plants and nature and are minimally processed.  Organic products take ‘natural’ several steps further: they are made with non-GMO ingredients that have been grown, raised, harvested, manufactured and preserved without chemical herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, antibiotics – giving you products with fewer contaminants.  All of these extra steps cost more in organic farming and processing, which is why organic products tend to cost more.  This, of course, is part of the problem; as soon as manufacturers realize consumers will pay more for a product with ‘organic’ on the label, the word starts to appear. 

And here are some of the tricks used: the chemical definition of organic is “a compound that contains a carbon atom.”  Since carbon is found in anything that lives or has ever lived, unscrupulous companies use synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum products, describing them as organic preservatives.  This use of the word, of course, has nothing at all to do with the reason you might be interested in the product.  

Another label deception?  Since water is the primary ingredient in many products, some manufacturers claim to use organic floral waters or hydrosols.  Look at the label a little closer and you’ll also see synthetic toxic ingredients.  That’s your first clue the product has been green-washed and that you’ll want to put it back on the shelf! 

Pay attention to phrases like ‘derived from’ – which indicates that something was done to your natural ingredient to turn it into something no longer natural.  Having said that, however, chemical reactions take place all the time – even naturally – turning one thing into another.  For example, soap is the result of combining a fat, like coconut oil, with a salt, like sodium hydroxide – two natural ingredients coming together to create a whole new item.  The bottom line is that you should educate yourself on what sorts of ingredients you want to avoid and make informed purchasing decisions.  

Please see for more information on chemicals to avoid.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. These are really great tips! I have been trying to teach my husband the difference between natural and organic and he still occasionally makes a mistake buying Natural Instincts Shampoo. When you look closely at the ingredients there’s really nothing natural about it. Even when I scour my Whole Foods aisle to buy some shampoo, there are so many of them that contain such harsh chemicals that I wonder how it landed in the store.

    Now, I do research online. Double and triple check ingredients, then check on to see the toxicity rating.

    January 26, 2012
    • So glad you found this helpful! Differentiating between natural and organic can be tricky when consumers are constantly led to blindly trust the products they purchase-especially places like Whole Foods whose objective is to offer organic alternatives to commercial items. is also a great resource for information on products and ingredients.

      Thanks for commenting Susan!


      January 27, 2012
  2. Jo #

    Hello! I LOVE your products and this blog so, so much! I have a small question though, are you no longer making the lip 2 cheek in the colour “muse”, seeing as it is no longer available on your website? Please say it isn’t so!

    xo Jo

    January 31, 2012
    • Hi there! Thank you for the sweet words 🙂

      Unfortunately the muse is no longer available at the moment–but don’t worry, it will be returning for the summertime around June!

      We will keep you posted on its return to the site, as well as other product updates!


      January 31, 2012
      • Jo #

        Oh, good news then, I won’t have to wait long – and since the products last forever I have lots left anyway! 🙂 Can’t wait for any new products coming out either, I’m sure they’ll be great!

        xo Jo

        February 2, 2012
  3. Hello there I am so grateful I found your site, I
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