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The Beauty Label Breakdown

You’re trying to buy more responsible beauty products, but how do you decipher between marketing gimmicks and the real deal? One way is to look at the ecological certifications, indicated by logos on packaging, which are designed to educate the consumer. But the problem is, there are lots of certifications out there and they all mean different things. We’ve rounded up seven of the most common seals of approval and what they stand for, so the next time you go to buy, you can make a more informed decision.


USDA Organic

Primarily a standard for food, the USDA Organic certification is the only one the government currently offers for cosmetics. There are four tiers of consideration, but only products made with at least 95 percent or more organic ingredients can use the seal.


Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

This label signals that the company has signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Signatory companies pledge to make personal care products that meet or exceed EU safety standards, namely by not using chemicals that are known, or strongly suspected, to cause cancer, mutation, or birth defects. It also indicates a commitment to replace any hazardous materials with safer alternatives within three years.


Natural Product Association Certification

The seal of the Natural Products Association required that any product labeled “natural” is made with at least 95 percent natural ingredients (i.e. renewable resources found in nature). No petrochemicals, parabens, SLS, chemical sunscreens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, or animal testing allowed. Plus, the packaging must consist of mainly recyclable and post-consumer recycled content.


The Leaping Bunny

The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ Leaping Bunny logo assures that no animal testing was used during any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or its suppliers. It’s the most meaningful cruelty-free label because of its independent auditing process and ability to revoke privileges from companies that no longer comply.



An international non-profit association, NaTrue requires products to use only natural and organic ingredients (no synthetic fragrances or colors, no petroleum derived products, no silicon oils and derivatives, etc.). The NaTrue label also means the product was made using eco-friendly manufacturing processes and did not use any animal testing or irradiation. There are three grades of NaTrue certification: Natural Cosmetics, Natural Cosmetics with Organic Ingredients, and Organic Cosmetics.


Cradle to Cradle

The Cradle to Cradle certification assesses a product’s human and environmental safety in five categories. It only awards the label to products that use environmentally safe materials, are designed for material reutilization (such as recycling or composting), and manufactured using renewable energy and energy efficiency and water stewardship. In addition, the company is required to institute strategies for social responsibility.



NSF's Made With Organic label means that the product follows the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program, but it may have used certain chemical manufacturing processes specific to personal care products. As long as the product has at least 70 percent organic ingredients, it can carry the seal.

For more helpful ingredient-conscious beauty stories, click here.

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