With so many cosmetic and personal care products these days claiming to be "natural," "organic," and made from "botanical" ingredients, it can be difficult to sort out the facts or figure out which companies you can trust. Sadly, hefty profits are made by duping underinformed consumers into buying products labeled with vague or deceptive terminology. To help you better understand the true meaning behind natural product packaging, we've put together a handy list of the five most commonly misused, overused and abused words in the world of natural industry marketing. This way, you'll learn to objectively analyze claims made about a particular product and can avoid wasting money on the ones that aren't really all they claim to be.
What is Botanical?
Luckily, the meaning of the word "botanical" is slightly less confusing than most terms explained here. It refers to plants, or substances derived directly from plants. This word does not apply to things like mineral clays or beeswax, but it is correct to refer to plant-based carrier oils, essential oils, and herbs as botanical. Always read the ingredient list, as this will help you weed out those sneaky products that describe themselves as botanical to catch your attention, yet only contain a tiny percentage of plant-based ingredients.
What is Holistic?
This word describes an approach to health care that addresses the whole body rather than individual ailments - think "whole-istic". Since skin is just one of the many organs that make up the human body, localized topical treatments such as Wunder Budder Original Salve are not considered holistic. A holistic approach addresses imbalances within the body that physically manifest themselves but may not seem directly linked to the root cause. For example, many people with chronic skin conditions may actually be suffering from an imbalance in the liver, so drinking a cleansing tea would be a holistic way to address the issue, while using a topical application for support. While we believe holistic care is the best, the term should not be used to describe most of our products. Topical skincare products are rarely holistic, but things like aromatherapy blends can be.
What is Homeopathic?
Homeopathy refers to a fascinating holistic field of natural medicine which uses energy-based remedies for maintaining health. Homeopathic remedies are made through a process of succussion (shaking) and dilution (the "x" on homeopathic remedies denotes the number of times it has been diluted - and although it seems counterintuitive, the higher the "x", the stronger the remedy). Confusion arises when the terms "holistic" and "homeopathic" are used incorrectly and interchangeably, because while homeopathic medicines tend to be holistic, not all holistic remedies are homeopathic.
What is Natural?
Vague at best, and misleading at worst, the term "natural" is thrown around by many big-name cosmetic companies (and even some small ones!) in order to capitalize on the Green Movement. Deceptive marketing campaigns have strategically lead consumers to associate the word "natural" with "healthy" and "wholesome," so it's easy to see why consumers gravitate toward products that subtly make these claims. Not only used to market products for the body, this term is now profusely overused to describe processed foods and other consumables that have only tenuous ties to the natural world. There are no regulations governing the use of this term, and technically anything found on earth is natural, including petroleum-based products and ingredients made from animals. Always read your labels.
What is Organic?
Like holistic/homeopathic, the terms "organic" and "natural" are often incorrectly used interchangeably to describe consumer goods. To clear up any confusion, it's important to note that in order to label a product as "certified organic," manufacturers must meet stringent government regulations regarding the way in which ingredients are grown. Plants that are grown organically are cultivated without the use of chemicals, which leads many people to call them natural, but the terms don't go the other way around - not all natural products are organic. For a product with multiple ingredients to be certifiably organic, 90% of its contents must be organically grown on certified land, and a vast amount of time and money are needed to gain this official status.
Now that you know more about natural product labeling, go out and make good choices!
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