Dear Beauty Bitch:

I’ve heard that a lot of products claim that they are “all-natural” when really they’re not.

Is this true? How do I know for sure if a brand is 100% organic?

Are there some basic guidelines to follow? I’m a lazy shopper and need help.


Clueless Beauty Consumer, NYC


Dear CBC in NYC,

It’s true—you can’t judge a beauty product by its cover when shopping for all-green goods. “The American cosmetic industry is still unregulated by the FDA,” explains Victoria Fantauzzi, CEO and Co-Founder of organic skincare line La Bella Figura. “So it’s a free for all for some companies to make all kinds of claims and it can be very confusing for the consumer.”

So what can you do? Step one is to start looking closely at labels. “The first thing I tell a customer who asks about what makes an organic product organic is to read the label,” Fantauzzi says. “Natural and organic brands do not use fillers, chemical emulsifiers, parabens, nanoparticles or petroleum based ingredients.”

Unless you are an insanely brainy chemist, of course, you’ll probably have study up on what specific ingredients to avoid. And yes, this does take a little bit of research. But fear not, Clueless Consumer—there’s an app that makes it easy!

The O&N Collective app is a fantastic educational tool,” raves Fantauzzi. “It’s free, intelligently designed, easy to maneuver and filled with info to help consumers find fantastic, non-toxic products.”

And a good general rule of thumb to follow is this: If an ingredient is unrecognizable and almost impossible to pronounce, be wary. True organic brands (like La Bella Figura) use only ingredients that are wild grown or certified organic, so if it’s truly natural, chances are you’ll be able to recognize what you read on the bottle.

And remember, an authentically green brand should be proud to disclose its ingredients, so they shouldn’t be difficult to learn about via the company’s label and/or website. “Ethical companies have nothing to hide,” Fantauzzi explains. “They will enthusiastically list what’s in their products.”

Personally, I buy most of my organic skincare stuff online—it’s easier to do basic research that way. Plus, all of the pretty packaging at the drugstore can be confusing—and overwhelming. Check out La Bella Figura for some awesome, all-natural skincare options. I’m obsessed with their lip balm, which I literally never leave home without, and I also love this eye serum.

And of course there are many other options out there.

So Clueless Consumer, it may take a little bit of work in the beginning, but once you find an organic brand that you like, stick with it! Your skin will certainly thank you.