Green Glossary

Words like natural, organic, sustainable, and other feel-good terms often get thrown around a lot interchangeably—but they all have different meanings. Here, we decipher green labeling lingo.

NATURAL

What it means: Made with plant, mineral, or animal by-products. In other words, no synthetics—only ingredients found in nature.
What to know: The use of the word natural isn’t regulated by the government, and natural doesn’t equal organic. If you want to be sure a formula really contains no synthetics, check the ingredient label.
We’re loving: You’ll recognize all the ingredients in Sasquatch Soap, a man-size bar that smells like the great outdoors.

BOTANICAL

What it means: Derived from plants, including the extracts of roots, seeds, leaves, and flowers.
What to know: While many botanicals are chockablock with antioxidants and vitamins, just because an ingredient comes from a plant doesn’t necessarily make it good for you.
We’re loving: PLANT Face Oil is a lightweight blend of ultra healthy botanical oils, including Nordic sea buckthorn, a natural acne remedy that also reduces inflammation and stimulates cell regeneration.

ORGANIC

What it means: No pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth hormones, or antibiotics.
What to know: Organic certification is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which mandates that at least 95% of ingredients in any single product be organic to qualify. (All organic products are natural, but not all natural products are organic.)
We’re loving: All the products from Lucky Tiger’s line are made with certified organic ingredients, but we’re especially into the Liquid Cream Shave, which contains soothing chamomile and calendula and moisturizing borage oil.

SUSTAINABLE

What it means: In brief, good for the planet. Sustainable has more to do with the impact of cultivation and the production process on the environment than the ingredients themselves, which may or may not be organic, botanical, or natural.
What to know: Natural and organic ingredients aren’t necessarily more sustainable than synthetic.
We’re loving: Ernest Supplies Cooling Shave Cream is a low-lather, conditioning cream packed with good-for-you ingredients like jojoba oil, essential fatty acids, and fruit extracts—and its minimalist pouches have a lower carbon footprint than conventional packaging.

CRUELTY-FREE

What it means: Not tested on animals.
What to know: Cruelty-free is not FDA regulated, but the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) administers a leaping bunny logo, which is the best way to guarantee animal testing isn’t used in any phase of product development.
We’re loving: Rehab London, which has a strict no animal testing policy, tries its products out on human guinea pigs (i.e. men).

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