Independent Certifications: What do they mean?

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Last week we wrote a post about how confusing and misleading the term “organic” can be on beauty products. This week, we want to dive into some popular independent certifications that have varying standards. We want you to be smart beauty shoppers so we are breaking down the most common certifications.

One label you may have spotted before is MADE SAFE. Made Safe is a nonprofit and focuses on household products. They certify products made without any potentially harmful toxic chemicals and ingredients. They screen ingredient lists against their database of chemicals, compiled from government lists and independent sources. Their list of “Made Safe” brands is reputable but limited. A couple of the brands overlap with our approved brands like Rejuva Minerals and Kosmatology. In short, this certifier is a good one to look for when shopping!

QAI is the world’s largest third-party organic certification service. Authorized by the USDA, this certification follows the National Organic Program guidelines for personal care products. These guidelines are stringent. But, they are less focused on the exclusion of toxic or harmful ingredients and more so on following the “organic” guidelines. If you see this label, you know that the ingredients are all completely organic.

Beauty giant Sephora recently launched its own “clean beauty” initiative and stamp of approval — Clean at Sephora. To receive this stamp, products must be free of: SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, triclocarban, and less than 1% synthetic fragrances. It is great that larger corporations are beginning to recognize the importance of good ingredients and value customer safety.

Clean at Sephora brands like Biossance are dedicated to using 100% healthy, nontoxic ingredients. Some of the other brands, however, still use chemicals we consider to be harmful. Many of the Clean at Sephora products contain PEGs, which can be contaminated with potential carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. Josie Maran foundation has polyester-1 and PEGS. Polyester-1 is a potential carcinogenic skin irritant. This list goes on, however, most of the Clean at Sephora products contain mainly healthy, safe ingredients.

We know sifting through ingredient lists and looking up every impossible-to-pronounce chemical name is impractical. Ingredients like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates are going out of fashion in the beauty industry, but many toxic ingredients still remain.

These certifiers, and others like the USDA, can be great for spreading awareness and letting consumers know that some products do contain dangerous ingredients. With information coming from so many different sources and companies, it can be confusing to know what to buy. There are so many resources providing different information that it is difficult to know what products are safe. Our mission is to help everyone keep as many harmful substances out of their bodies as possible.


Independent Certifications: What do they mean? was originally published in Think Dirty on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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