Everyday there seems to be a new beauty phenomenon to follow. The media tells us to "only buy organic" one day and the next day the focus is on vegan. Now halal beauty has been brought into the fold. The categories can be a little confusing, so we've broken them down to help you muddle your way through products the next time you find yourself wandering down the beauty aisle.
Cruelty-Free and Vegan Beauty
So here's the catch: there is not a regulated definition for the term "vegan" as it relates to beauty. Some experts and dermatologists define it as products that are "free of any animal by-products or derivatives." And, while your non-vegan lipstick may not contain actual bacon grease, it could definitely have something similar; think: fatty acids, collagen and gelatin, to name a few. Though "vegan" and "cruelty-free" are not synonymous with one another, they certainly go hand-in-hand, as most vegan products do not undergo any form of animal testing during production, nor do they include ingredients that have undergone animal testing.
Beauty outlets have been covering Halal beauty a lot as of late; sparking questions about how Halal fits into the beauty category at all. Companies like Amara Halal Cosmetics have been founded under the belief that "Halal isn't limited to what is consumed as food [it] also applies to what is put on our skin." Halal cosmetics are similar to vegan cosmetics, but they have been Halal-Certified; they do not contain alcohol or forbidden animal by-products such as gelatin or ingredients that are extracted from animals like pigs.
Natural and Organic Beauty
"Natural" and "Organic" are often used interchangeably, however, "organic" is the term defined and regulated under the US Department of Agriculture. Because there isn't a standard definition for the term in the beauty industry, the definition of "organic" varies based on who you ask.
For example, companies like Farmhouse Fresh, offer organic products that are much more farm-to-face than other brands. Farmhouse Fresh and companies like it, hold themselves to a higher standard in the realm of "organic" offerings. Each product under the Farmhouse Fresh brand is made with up to "99.6% natural and naturally-derived ingredients." Their products are also paraben and sulfate free and all fragrances are natural or phthalate free. Companies that follow strict organic practices also tend to house their products in glass rather than plastics, rubber, etc. At the other end of the spectrum are the products that are considered "organic" at its most basic form, or those that have certified 70% of their ingredients ("made with organic ingredients"). By law, organic products can still contain up to five percent non-organic content.
So how can you differentiate the products that follow strict organic practices from those that don't? For starters, strict organic brands often take packaging into heavy consideration; they'll often choose glass or natural fibers over plastics and non-biodegradable substances and a number of their products will include an expiration date. If all else fails, you can also look for a "USDA Certified" stamp, which will guarantee that the products contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
You can also check the hazardous rating of your products via the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database to determine the safety of your products.