Now more than ever, understanding the differences between terms like “green”, “clean”, “natural” and “organic” is important. If you’re looking for a quick guide to green beauty terms and the similarities and differences between each claim, you’re in the right place!

First, it’s important to note that since there is minimal regulation – if any – over these terms, there will be companies out there who abuse and use them improperly. The only sure-fire way to cut through marketing fluff to determine if a product or company’s ingredients are acceptable to you is to read up on individual ingredients.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s jump into it!

Organic: This term can be both ingredient level which refers to the nature in which an ingredient was grown and harvested or it can be at a product level, such as USDA certified organic products which have to meet certain thresholds of organic ingredients to be considered. Whether referring to individual ingredients or a product as a whole, the term organic means that they are free of chemical substances and processes such as fertilizers, antibiotics, GMOs, etc.

Natural: This term is probably one of the most abused because it carries a lot of marketing weight but is completely unregulated. Technically, a product or company should not call itself natural unless they are all-natural, i.e. all ingredients are naturally derived and non-synthetic, however, you should read labels to understand if a company is calling their product natural because they’ve included two natural ingredients squished between a bunch of chemicals.

Clean: This term is a “middle of the road” term typically used by companies that are not 100% natural but use natural ingredients when possible plus an array of safe synthetics as needed. The goal is less about natural and more about safety. CLOVE + HALLOW falls under the category of a clean beauty brand! If you see a company or product touted as “clean” you should read the label and research the ingredients to ensure the product is up to your personal standard.

Green: When you see this term, it is usually referring to products and companies that are eco-conscious. This can relate to ingredients, production processes, packaging, etc. For example, an organic product or company isn’t necessarily green if they are harvesting organic ingredients in an unsustainable fashion, and a clean product or company can be considered green if they are using recyclable packaging.

So that’s it you guys – we know there are a lot of confusing buzzwords floating around in the beauty space so we hope this helped bring some clarity. Unfortunately, until these terms are regulated there will always be some grey area for unsavory people and businesses to exploit, so we suggest that anyone who is interested in this topic throw their weight behind the growing pressure on regulatory agencies to create legal definitions for these terms!

January 10, 2018

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