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Organic Cheater Brands: Watch Out for Toxic Skin Care Products

I don’t know about you, but I’m always personally disappointed when brands I thought I could trust turn out to contain ingredients that are hazardous to my health. It makes me feel disgusted with big companies and the way they play fast and loose with our health, especially when they know better.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has prepared a spreadsheet summarizing “Organic Cheater brand” products and their Hazard Rankings according to the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” Cosmetic Safety Database.

The tabs at the top of the spreadsheet list various brands horizontally: click each tab to view that brand’s product scores from the Skin Deep” database. By far the majority of fake organic products score in the “Moderate Hazard” category.

Conversely, Dr. Bronner’s Skin Deep product scores show that the vast majority of true NOP-certified (USDA’s National Organic Program) organic personal care score in the safest “Low Hazard” category.

A couple of brands, Jason “Pure, Natural & Organic” and Nature’s Gate “Organics”, even had some of their fake organic products score in the unsafest “High Hazard” category.

Perhaps even more disturbing, two of the “organic cheater” brands who are the subject of OCA’s Complaint to USDA NOP, have reneged on their signed promise to provide product and ingredient information to Skin Deep so that their products’ safety can be assessed. Those brands are Eminence “Organic” Skin Care and Head “Organics”.

Another two brands, while they have not reneged on any promises, have also decided to not submit product and ingredient information to Skin Deep: Ilike “Organic” Skin Care and Surya Sapien “Organic”.

As noted in the Complaint, all these brands utilize surfactants made in part or entirely from petrochemicals as primary cleansing ingredients, which contain no organic agricultural material whatsoever. Eminence in particular deceptively claims that Alpha Olefin Sulfonate, the primary cleanser in its “Organic Stone Crop Bodywash”, is from a “plant source,” when in fact this cleanser is commercially available only in pure petrochemical form.

Both Nature’s Gate and Eminence do produce a few true USDA NOP certified organic products under their respective brands. However, the vast majority of their product lines are not certified under the USDA’s National Organic Program, because their main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients are generally based on conventional or petrochemical, rather than organic agricultural, material.

As a general rule when shopping for organic personal care, check for the USDA seal to be sure you’re buying true organic personal care rather than fake organic products.


19 Comments on “Organic Cheater Brands: Watch Out for Toxic Skin Care Products

  1. I understand the organic situation. However most people lack the understanding that if the product is 100% organic is carries a very short shelf life which is bad for you and the company who sells. if you want 100 percent organic make it at home. But oh wait organic crops are still watered with what type of water? its not 100% pure untainted h2o. so to me organic does exist but it doesn’t all food is tainted in some type of way.

  2. THANK YOU for addressing this! Love it! I, myself have had a background in skincare and was tired of all the hype! I had been avidly looking for completely organic skincare for several years.. I was disappointed that even in health food stores there were a few organic ingredients and the rest chemicals in a supposed “organic” cream! I finally found my long awaited answer in a company called Taspen’s Organics! No chemicals or fillers and they don’t just make a big deal of a few organic ingredients, they power pack it! Other companies will say you have to have a chemical preservative- No they don’t, they just don’t want to cut out of their profits! Taspen’s uses Silver Sol, your high grade colloidal silver..natural antibacterial, anti fungal. VERY high integrity and they don’t create their products to run out every month. You can get a 4oz facial moisturizer..6-8 month supply for $55! Which is unbelievable for skincare. I had clients paying $300 for moisturizer and this blows them away. These work instantaneously and cumulatively! I witness the most amazing results with these products!! Their Wrinkle Serum and Eye Cream is power packed with completely organic ingredients and is truly transformitive, within 10 minutes! You can see a difference before you even get to the other eye!! Because it’s pure nutrition for the skin!

    I know I’m going on about it but when you’ve searched as long as I have and finally find a product and company with this much integrity you RAVE about it! They also have an amazing cream for eczema, psoriasis, rashes, burns, acne, diaper rash, bug bites, etc called Restore & Revive that won’t sting it at all and truly makes a difference! No More Aches can take out pain within smell in the cream and the oil helps neuropathy- my saving grace when I had sciatica!

    I was only looking for my own personal use when I found these products but now help rep the western United States for them when I realized you can’t find this quality out there and people need to know it exists! I truly believe in these products and this company! -Rima

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  5. Thank-you so much for this post, Elizabeth!

    I didn’t know Eminence was not all that it claimed to be.

    I looked up Miessence on EWG’s Cosmetic Database and was so pleased (and not surprised) that all their products had low toxicity scores of ‘0-1.’

    I scrutinized their ingredient lists (which are extremely transparent on their website and offer full disclosure) and examined their organic certification:

    I was pretty impressed and thought perhaps to reinforce what you are saying, yes, there are companies out there that are not fully disclosing their ingredients.

    Fortunately, Miessence is one of them. Yes, we have to sift through the many companies out there. I was happy to discover that among them, there are indeed organic skincare companies with integrity and full transparency.

  6. Eminence is a fake company. It’s not made in Hungary, it’s made in Richmond B.C. by a company called Vitelle Labs. They use numerous preservatives and non-organic ingredients. If their ingredients were ever tested to compare against the ingredient list, they would be busted.

    1. You will be hard-pressed to find all natural ingredients in any skincare. This “natural” industry is in dire need of a code of ethics and minimum standards.

      All skincare by law is required to have preservatives. Skincare without proven and long-lasting preservatives is dangerous. Those preservatives are not “natural.”

      Absurdly, one sees over and over again, claims from this industry that no chemicals are used in the products. Everything on this earth is a chemical!

      Now for the bottom line. Our skin has an impermeable membrane between the epidermis, the outer layer, which includes a bottom layer of skin cells which move to the top in various layers as they die, and the dermis, where the collagen, elastin, blood and nerve vessels, etc. lie. No over-the-counter skincare product can cross this membrane, so tried-and-true non-organic products do not harm us, as this “natural” industry claims.

      This “natural” skincare industry, in my view, has more untrue claims than the regular skincare industry.

  7. Thanks for responding for OCA, Alexis! I’m glad to provide a forum for topics like this and add to our understanding of organic and natural certification standards.

  8. Melange Public Relations says:

    “Several years ago it was decided that our products would be certified through the widely recognized and respected German based certifier BDIH.”

    BDIH certifies “Natural” claims only. The BDIH standard has no organic requirement. It disallows petrochemicals in cleansing ingredients, and allows only a few nature-identical synthetic preservatives. It allows sulfation and hydrogenation.

    BDIH is a strong “Natural” claim, but doesn’t certify Szep Elet as an organic brand. The position of the Organic Consumers Association, is that, if Szep Elet wants to credibly market their products as organic in the United States, they need to be USDA certified.

    The fact that Szep Elet wants to pass off its BDIH “Natural” certification as an organic claim means that they either don’t understand or don’t respect what organic means to US consumers.

  9. Thanks for weighing in! I completely agree that the official organic standards realm in the U.S. has been and continues to be an embarrassment compared to European standards and, as a result, not all is as it should be here and confusion reigns.

  10. Szep Elet strongly supports movement toward clearer AND more universal standards for qualification and communication of what is and is not “organic”. The clarity and understanding of, adherence to and compliance with standards in the U.S. has been lacking. Furthermore, there has been little progress toward universally understood and accepted … See Morestandards or requirements that cross international boundaries.
    No one from the OCA or other parties behind the complaint has ever contacted Szep Elet for information. And the portion of the complaint which covers ilike organic skin care products totals only 2 short paragraphs yet includes statements such as “…few if any of the ingredients are actually organic.”
    While the U.S. is a very important market for ilike organic skin care, our products are distributed in 41 other countries around the world (under the Ilcsi organic skin care brand in all countries outside of N. America). Several years ago it was decided that our products would be certified through the widely recognized and respected German based certifier BDIH.

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