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What does it mean when makeup is “organic”?

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We get asked the question “Are you organic?” a lot. Our short answer is “No, we’re not,” though we do use some certified organic ingredients, including argan oil, shea butter, cocoa powder and cocoa absolute, in our makeup. But our reason “why” is complicated. 

The reason we don’t have organic certification essentially has to do with the way “organic” is defined for the cosmetics industry. There’s the FDA who doesn’t define or regulate the term “organics,” as it applies to cosmetics, body care, or personal care products, at all. Then there’s the USDA where cosmetics can be labeled “organic” through the organic certification process where USDA-accredited agents verify and certify organic food and other organic agricultural products. But USDA organic regulations were originally intended for agriculture, food and livestock. When the label is transferred to the cosmetics industry, it gets a bit more complicated.

Cosmetics can’t be certified as organic, because they’re much more than fruits, vegetables, and food (“grown”) products. Creating a cosmetics product (even a natural one) can require ingredients that aren’t grown and thus can’t be considered USDA organic, like the minerals we use to help color our products. Since minerals aren’t grown, they can’t technically be considered “organic,” which disqualifies a lot of colored and tinted cosmetics from having an organic label.

If you look on store beauty shelves, a lot of products do label themselves as “organic.” Be wary – the use of “organic” in product names and descriptions is unregulated. Unless there’s a seal from the USDA or any other organic certification body, don’t trust the label alone. Remember to check the list of ingredients. Since they’re listed in order of highest percentage of the formulation to lowest, the first few ingredients are a great indicator of how authentically organic the product is. Read through the labels and make sure the first ingredients are from non-synthetic, food-based sources before you buy.

There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation about what’s organic and what’s not. While we aren’t able to label ourselves as certified organic as defined by the USDA, we can tell you which chemicals aren’t in HAN products and assure you with full transparency that all of our ingredients are natural, toxin-free and cruelty-free.

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