How to find organic skincare products and cosmetics


Do you eat organic food, but never think twice about the chemicals in the personal care products you use on your skin? It's not easy to find organic skin and beauty products, but environmentalist and author Anna Lappe has expert tips.

How to find organic skincare products and cosmetics

You may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that unlike food there is no government certified labeling program for organic ingredients in skin and beauty products. So how can you tell whether you’re choosing organic cosmetics and skin care products or not?

  • Read the labels, not just the name of the product. Some products will include the word ‘organic’ in their name, but on closer inspection of the ingredients you won’t find any organic ingredients at all.
  • Check the label to see whether the ingredients include petroleum, synthetic preservatives or artificial colors. Also watch out for parabens and phthaltes.
  • You can also consult the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, You can enter the name of the products you use and see whether they contain ingredients you want to avoid.

Hi I'm Anna Lappe, co-author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen. I'm here in the body care area of Whole Foods. You might be surprised and a little disheartened to discover that there's no regulation about the ingrediants in the beauty products that we use on our bodies every day. Unlike food, as of now there is no USDA organic seal that can be put on cosmetics and even products with names like this one, Modern Organic Products, doesn't mean that it's guaranteed that every single product in there is organic.

Compare that to Pangea organics which makes a promise that it doesn't include petroleum, sulfates, synthetic preservatives, or artificial colors. And it also doesn't have in it those ingredients that you should be really watching out for like parabens and pthalates.

So how do you know what's safe? Well the number one thing that I would recommend is going to the Enviromental Working Group, Skin Deep's website, where they have an incredible database where you can enter in your beauty care products and discover what ingredients are in those products that might not be good for you.

So what's the big deal? You're only putting a little dap of any of these products at any given moment. But your skin is your largest organ and you're using these products every single day for an entire lifetime. And now thanks to resources like the Enviromental Working Group's website, we actually have a very easy way to find out what's safe and what isn't.

meet theexpert
  • Anna Lappe

    Anna Lappe Co-founder, Small Planet Institute Anna Lappé is a national bestselling author and public speaker, known for her work on sustainable agriculture, food politics and social change. Named one of Time Magazine’s Eco-Who’s Who, Anna has been featured in The New York Times, Gourmet, O-The Oprah Magazine, Domino, Food & Wine, and Vibe, among many other outlets. She is the co-author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. With her mother, Anna co-founded the Small Planet Insti more about this expert »

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