With the ever-growing popularity of natural products, a lot of marketing words are thrown around these days. It can be difficult to figure out what exactly each word means, especially when there is little regulation around most words. Here are the top 5 abused natural industry terms:
Botanical refers to plants, or substances derived directly from plants. This term doesn't apply to things like mineral clays or beeswax, but it's correct to refer to things like plant-based carrier oils, essential oils, and herbs as botanical. Always read the ingredient list on products. This will help you weed out products that are marketed as botanical, yet only contain a small percent of plant-based ingredients.
This word describes an approach to health care that addresses the whole body (think whole-istic) rather than individual symptoms. A holistic approach addresses imbalances within the body that physically manifest themselves but may not seem directly linked to the root cause. Topical skincare products are rarely holistic, as they are generally used to treat a symptom, not the body as a whole.
Homeopathy is a holistic field of natural medicine using energy-based remedies for maintaining health. Homeopathic remedies are made through a process of succussion and dilution, where the more diluted the remedy is, the higher its potency. Confusion arises when the terms holistic and homeopathic are incorrectly used interchangeably. While homeopathic medicines tend to be holistic, not all holistic remedies are homeopathic.
Vague at best, and misleading at worst, the term natural is thrown around by many big-name cosmetic and beauty companies (and even some small ones) in order to capitalize on the movement towards natural, green, and sustainable living. Not only is natural used to market products for the body, this term is commonly used to describe processed foods and other consumable items containing only a few actually natural ingredients. There are no regulations governing the use of the word natural, so it's important to always read ingredients lists.
Like holistic and homeopathic, the terms natural and organic are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Although the rules are not always followed, and you may find some food or beauty products mislabeled as organic, this is the one term that is regulated (by the USDA, for even for non-food items). Look for the certified organic seal to be sure that the product has been grown and processed following the strict guidelines set forth by the USDA.
Naturally grown is a newer term for items grown in an organic manner (no pesticides or other synthetic chemicals), but are not certified organic.