Mental Wellness

More and more skincare enthusiasts are looking for products that are natural, organic, clean, cruelty-free, paraben-free, or even vegan. But a lot of buyers don’t know the real differences between these labels. For example, natural and organic are often used interchangeably, while they couldn’t be more different. This confusion is completely normal and is almost encouraged by some beauty brands because it helps them ‘greenwash’ their products. Greenwashing has surfaced ever since brands realized that if you position skincare products as chemical-free or natural, people are more likely to buy them.

Greenwashing is a marketing tactic where a brand exaggerates how clean, natural, or eco-friendly a product is to appeal to conscious consumers.

Today, we’re going to help you understand all the differences between natural and organic skincare in the simplest way possible.



Natural Skincare

Organic Skincare


Derived from plants, flowers, and minerals found in nature.

Made with ingredients that are non-GMO, organically farmed, and free from pesticides, growth injections, synthetics, chemicals, or preservatives.


Highly unregulated, a product can contain 0.1% of a flower and call itself natural.

Strictly regulated, you can be sued for false representation or fraudulent use of this label.


It is not mandatory.

Must be certified by bodies like EcoCert, OneCert, USDA, COSMOS, etc.


Sourced from plants, minerals, or animal by-products.

95%+ ingredients should be sourced from organic farming.


Use some natural ingredients that are processed in a way that they retain their ‘natural’ identity.

Strict adherence to organic farming and processing of skincare ingredients, minerals, and botanicals.

Harmful Substances

No parabens, sulfates, and limited to no petrochemicals.

No chemicals, fertilizers, sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals.


Can contain synthetic fragrances and dyes.

Required to be free from synthetic fragrances and dyes.


May contain ingredients grown with pesticides and herbicides.

No use of pesticides and herbicides to grow ingredients used in products.


Ingredients may be derived from animals treated with hormones.

Ingredients from animals must be hormone-free.

Animal Testing

Not tested on animals.

Not tested on animals.


Ingredients may be derived from animals treated with antibiotics.

Ingredients from animals must be antibiotic-free.


Tends to be more affordable than organic skincare as it does not require certification.

Tends to be more expensive than natural skincare as the product has to undergo expenses of certification.


Likely to have a higher shelf-life as it has provision for a higher number of preservatives and stabilizers.

Likely to have a shorter shelf-life as there is a strict limitation on how many non-organically sourced ingredients can be used to stabilize and preserve the product.

Environmental Impact

Varies in percentage from brand to brand.

High focus on sustainable farming and eco-friendly practices.


Often falsely perceived as cruelty-free, clean, or even vegan.

Often falsely perceived as cruelty-free, clean, or even vegan.

Certifications to Look For When Choosing Your Skincare Products

When buying skincare products, certain labels on the packaging are extremely trustworthy because they indicate the highest standards of ingredients, farming, and manufacturing processes. 

Here are some of the most recognized regulatory bodies that award certification labels to skincare brands if they meet their criteria:

  • EcoCert: A French regulatory body that is more prevalent in Europe, this is considered among the gold standard in organic and natural certifications in the beauty industry. Brands that have an EcoCERT label have been quality-checked for having 95%+ plant-based ingredients in the formula, and over 10% of these ingredients by weight have come from organic farming. They will be free from parabens, GMOs, silicones, fragrances, dyes, and any synthetics. Brands must also adhere to packaging regulations. This states that product packaging must be eco-friendly, sustainably sourced, recyclable, and not over-packaged to avoid wastage. The product labels must also be clear and prominently feature credentials and certifications.

  • OneCert: This US-based regulator offers certified seals to skincare brands that have at least 95% organically farmed ingredients. The remaining 5% must be OneCert-approved non-organic substances. They will be free from parabens, GMOs, silicones, fragrances, dyes, and any synthetics.

  • COSMOS Standard: This certification offers two seals, COSMOS Organic and COSMOS Natural. COSMOS Organic products must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients of the total plant-based ingredients, and at least 20% of the total ingredients must be organic. COSMOS Natural ensures the ingredients are natural but does not require a specific percentage of organic content.

  • USDA: One of the most well-known certifications as it is also often used in the food category, skincare products with the USDA seal must have at least 95% organic ingredients. They also issue 100% organic certification, but this is a standard that is impossible to meet in skincare because products need stabilizers to improve their shelf-life.

  • NaTrue: This certification is applied to natural products, natural products with some organic ingredients, and organic products. While the natural and organic percentages vary, NaTrue products will never contain synthetic fragrances, colours, or petrochemicals.

  • AYUSH: Loosely regulated because it encompasses many different disciplines, AYUSH-certified products meet standards set by the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy. A seal is provided to brands that comply with traditional Indian medicine principles and adhere to quality standards set by the Ministry.

If you’re trying to be a more conscious consumer, reading the label to check for ingredients and certifications is the only true way to verify a brand’s claims. Hopefully, with our checklist, you’re going to be able to make more informed skincare purchases and recognize quality in the face of false claims.