Safety regulation for cosmetics and personal care products is often compared to the Wild West: the landscape is simply too vast to sufficiently govern it. The lone sheriff in town, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), provides guidance based on regulations that have not been updated since 1938. In the absence of robust FDA oversight for cosmetics, people have sought out natural and organic products. But how would one know if a product was truly organic? The FDA has declined to offer a definition for organic beyond food or any definition for natural as it refers to food or cosmetics. So, are there any organizations or governing bodies that can help to sort out the confusion amongst products that are truly natural and organic and those that simply make a meaningless claim?
Luckily for Badger, there are! Badger believes that third-party certifications take the guesswork out of claims like “organic,” “natural,” and “fair trade.” So we adhere to standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Natural Products Association (NPA), the NSF International, and FairTrade USA. These organizations certify that responsible growing, processing, and labor are utilized during the manufacturing of cosmetics and other personal care products. The USDA certifies our food-grade ingredients as organic, the NPA and NSF ensure our non-food ingredients are natural and organic, and FairTrade USA verifies that fair labor practices are used.
The USDA’s National Organic Program (USDA NOP) is a food-based standard. It oversees the agricultural practices of our suppliers to ensure the crops are not sprayed with hazardous substances for fertilization or pest management. USDA auditors seek out evidence of pollutants and pesticides, plus other ecological hazards at each farm. Plus, the USDA does not allow any GMOs, which means that if a product is USDA-certified organic, it does not contain any GMO ingredients. If compliant, the crop will be certified organic and bear the USDA organic logo. To be USDA certified organic, an ingredient or product must contain at least 95% USDA organic ingredients.
Badger is a USDA certified organic facility, and almost all of our products are USDA certified organic. This includes all balms, lip balms, and oils. Every product we make contains USDA-certified organic ingredients, and our headquarters here in New Hampshire is audited annually to ensure that we are adhering to the standard.
You may be wondering: why aren’t Badger sunscreens USDA certified organic if they contain mostly organic ingredients? Since the USDA is a food-grade standard, it will not certify products that contain ingredients that are inedible (like zinc oxide). So what about organic certification for non-food products like Badger sunscreen? This is where the NSF organic standard becomes relevant.
The NSF organic standard provides an organic certification for personal care products that cannot be certified by the USDA. In many ways it is just as stringent as the USDA NOP standard, but makes allowances for inedible ingredients since it’s not strictly for food. It’s an important step for companies offering products that contain organic ingredients, and is also a way for environmentally-savvy shoppers to make more educated choices about what they buy. While the NSF allows for limited green chemical processes that would not be permitted by the USDA for food, it ensures that your cosmetics do not contain and/or have not been processed using GMOs, ionizing radiation (UV, X-rays, gamma rays), sewage sludge (as a fertilizer), or petroleum compounds.
The Natural Products Association certifies personal care products and ingredients as natural. This is a process-based certification, meaning that each ingredient is screened for “naturalness,” safety, responsibility (i.e., no animal testing), and sustainability. To be certified natural by the NPA, it means at least 95% of a product’s ingredients are found in nature, renewable, generally regarded as safe, and contain no prohibited ingredients such as petroleum, parabens, phthalates, or sodium lauryl sulfate.
The guiding principle behind the NPA is to provide a way to distinguish “greenwashed” products and ingredients from those actually found in nature. By complying with the NPA natural standard, Badger can ensure that our non-food ingredients do not contain hazardous substances.
Badger’s own co-owner and VP of Innovation and Social Impact, Rebecca Hamilton, was on the steering committee for the NPA standard. You will see the NPA 100% natural seal on all Badger sunscreens.
As discussed in my previous post about Earth Oil, our argan oil supplier, the Fair Trade movement has strengthened the socioeconomic status of many different agricultural collectives while also providing powerfully pure, environmentally responsible ingredients. For an ingredient to be certified Fair Trade, its producer must utilize safe and fair labor practices, environmentally respectful agriculture, and a traceable supply chain. When Badger purchases Fair Trade ingredients, such as cocoa butter, argan oil, and menthol crystals, we know that we are supporting these responsible practices around the world.
Though Badger produces the safest and most effective products using food-grade organic ingredients, we do like to obtain these certifications to be completely positive we are following our mission and principles: supporting organic, sustainable agriculture through our purchasing practices, environmental responsibility, and honesty and integrity in our business practices. We are confident of the safety and efficacy of all of our products because of these certifications, and we hope it also makes our customers feel they are making responsible decisions by buying Badger.
Click to view a quick guide to Badger’s Certifications: