You Won't See the USDA Organic Certification Quite Yet... , 1 Comment

The foundation of Sally B’s Skin Yummies is built on the integrity of our ingredients. On our product labels you will see the highest quality, non-toxic ingredients listed, and when possible you will notice we use the certified organic option. But what you won’t see is an USDA Organic product seal. This seal, and its inclusion on our labels, has been a highly debated topic around the Sally B's kitchen. On one hand, it is a very recognizable icon. Shoppers know that a food is ethical and safe when they see the USDA Organic seal printed on its label. On the other, the seal was designed for food products and not for personal care products.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic is a labeling term that indicates that a food or an agricultural ingredient was produced through their approved methods. In simple terms this means that they were grown without the aid of fertilizers, pesticides, or any other chemicals, all with respect for the land and environment. However, the USDA Organic seal does not certify that a skin-care product is safe or contaminant-free; it only assures that a product has a specific number of organic ingredients that meet their standards, and that product manufacturing regulations are met. The manufacturing regulations they have set forth were designated for food production, not skin care or cosmetic products. As you can imagine, creating a serum or lotion requires a different chemistry than that of a cracker or cookie.

Unlike food products, skin care products tend to use water in their formulations. Because of this, it is necessary for preservatives to be used to keep them free of mold and bacteria. Even though there are non-toxic and safe preservatives (we use them!), the USDA does not recognize them as organic. If we were to pursue the USDA Organic certification we would either have to forgo the seal or forgo the preservative. Since we’re in the business of creating the safest, most effective product for our customer, removing an important preservative is not an option.

We had hoped that the USDA Organic seal would be the stamp of approval that validated our research, expense, and passion for creating safe, beneficial products. We have gone to great lengths to source USDA Organic certified ingredients whenever possible. While preservatives, Vitamin C, and Hyaluronic Acid (our supply is Vegan and Wheat Free) do not have an organic option, a majority of the ingredients in our kitchen proudly display the USDA Organic seal. However, despite our best efforts of creating products with the highest percentage of organic ingredients possible, we are still debating whether having the USDA seal will accomplish what we have set out to do in our mission of creating healthy, Non-toxic products that WORK.

So, without a seal, how do you know that you’re buying a safe product?

  • Bypass the front of a label and read the ingredient listing. Look for the word “organic” and avoid products that contain "Parabens", “propylene glycol,” “mineral oil,” or “fragrance,” to name a few.
  • Be wary of marketing claims, especially “natural.” There is no regulation on marketing terms so a product can use the word “natural” if there is just one plant-based ingredient in a sea of chemicals.
  • Look for other certifications, like cruelty-free. If a company adheres to other ethical certifications, there’s a good chance they choose all their ingredients with integrity.
  • Reference the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. The EWG is a third-party organization that ranks the toxicity of skin care products on a 0-10 scale (0 being non-toxic). If your product ranks between 0-2 you’ve got yourself a good one.

It’s also important to understand that the USDA Organic certification process is timely, meticulous, and expensive. For the past 10 years it has been the small, boutique brands pioneering the organic industry and while the seal may have seemed important, it was not attainable for some.

The more we learn about getting the USDA organic certification, the less compelled we are to go after it. It certainly is helpful in the grocery store, but it simply does not tell the full story of why Sally B’s is a safe, non-toxic, and effective skin care line.

There are a few other options for organic certification in the United States and we are in the process of determining what makes the most sense for Sally B's. We don't want to go through a lengthy process just to prove that we can jump through all of the hoops and spend all of the dollars required.  We really want the process to mean something to our products and our consumers.

Until we attain the certifications that mean something to this industry, know that our ingredient research, our processes, and our commitment to providing the safest, most effective products possible remains our number one goal.