Beauty Products that Are Good Enough to Eat

By Erika Villani

Think you know what’s in your organic shampoo? Think again. While the USDA has defined the meaning of “organic” for food-labeling purposes, there are no restrictions on the term in the cosmetics industry—so a lipstick loaded with petrochemicals can be called organic as long as it uses a single organic ingredient.

To remedy the problem, cosmetics companies have debated setting their own standards. “But if we’re going to create another law for cosmetics, it’s really going to confuse consumers,” says Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher. Which is why his newest venture, Intelligent Nutrients (, aims to use food-grade organic ingredients in its toothpastes, lotions, and other personal care products—and to submit to USDA labeling standards.

This means that the products must contain 95 percent organic ingredients if they are to be labeled organic; anything less and a shampoo is just a shampoo. And they’re not the only ones: Last year, the Organic Consumers Association won a battle with the government’s National Organic Program, giving other personal-care companies the right to use the USDA Organic seal on their products.

Rechelbacher hopes that the steady push for certified organic personal-care products will inspire mainstream cosmetics companies to follow suit. In the meantime, all of Intelligent Nutrients’ profits will be donated to environmental and social justice charities. “I’m not doing this for money,” says Rechelbacher. “I’m going to go back to work and redesign consumer products so that they provide solutions.” If only all shampoos were this hardworking.

Issue 25

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