Decoding Green Beauty Buzzwords


Green Beauty is a growing industry with more and more consumers making the switch from mainstream beauty to the environmentally-friendly, natural beauty alternatives. If you are new to the world of Green Beauty and found yourself a bit confused by all the different buzzwords that can be attached to products and brands, we’re here to help. We’re bringing you definitions of common words you’ll hear often when it comes to green beauty, to help you become a smarter consumer. 

What Does Organic Mean?

This means that products are formulated with organically farmed ingredients. These ingredients are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or herbicides.

Certifications to look for

Soil Association and COSMOS – This is the international standard of organic cosmetics and to achieve this certification, 95% of all ingredients in any product must be organic. Everything is cruelty-free, sustainably sourced and traceable and follows green chemistry principles.


EcoCert – EcoCert has two levels of certification when it comes to Organic certification. One being ‘Natural Cosmetic’ which means a product has a minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula, and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming, and ‘Organic and Natural Cosmetic’ = which is applied to plant-based ingredients, for this certification there needs to be a minimum of 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.

What Does Natural Mean?

This means that products contain naturally derived ingredients, or are of natural origin. Natural formulations use ingredients that already exist in nature. Remember there is also a certain amount ‘processing’ that needs to happen in order to create a beauty product in the first place. For example, almond oil must be extracted from raw almond nuts and would need to undergo a certain amount of processing in order to extract the oil from the nut. Some companies will use synthetically produced chemicals with their ‘naturally derived’ ingredient in their formulations as a form of preservative, to add scent or stabilise ingredients.

It is important to remember that use of terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ is not regulated in the beauty industry and is often used as a way to green wash consumers. This means that brands can claim that their product is ‘naturally derived’ or claim to be organic but only have 1 ingredient that is organic and natural, whilst the rest of the ingredients are synthetic. To avoid green washing, look out for certifications, but remember that this is costly and that small brands may not be able to afford this at the start.

What Does Vegan Mean?

When a product is Vegan it means that it doesn’t contain animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. Often Cruelty-Free and Vegan are used interchangeably, but be aware that just because something says it is Cruelty-Free, it doesn’t mean it is Vegan too. Animal Derived ingredients can be present in beauty formulas which makes the products not Vegan-Friendly.

Some examples of animal-derived ingredients are honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen and carmine. Make sure you are checking the ingredients list for your beauty products to ensure they are 100% Vegan.

Certifications to look for

Vegan Society Trademark – This certification means that the product is vegan and has to pass a number of checks to receive the Vegan Society Trademark. This certification ensures there is no animal testing or ingredients (or by-products) in the product.

What Does Cruelty-Free Mean?

When a product is Cruelty-Free it means that there has been no animal testing at any point. For a product to be 100% Cruelty-Free, it means that no testing has occurred previously to any of the ingredients, no testing on the final product or during the process of creating the product.

Sometimes brands claim to be cruelty-free whilst allowing third parties to test their products “where required by law”. The brands that comply with these practices are not cruelty-free because animal testing is happening at some point, somewhere in the world, even though it hasn’t happened directly from the brand in question.

It is important to note that Cruelty-Free brands can be owned by parent companies that test on animals.

Certifications to look for

Leaping Bunny Approved – This is a global, gold standard for cruelty-free cosmetics and household products that require that no new animal testing be used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or ingredient suppliers. For this certification, brands make a voluntary pledge to not test their products at any point.

Other Green Beauty Buzzwords to look out for

Wild Crafted – Plants that have grown in the wild and not farmed by man. They have grown in their native habitat without human intervention.  Arguably better than organic as this is the most ‘nature intended’ way of sourcing ingredients.

Raw ingredients – This means the ingredient has not undergone any processing such as heat or chemical additions. The ingredient will still have retained its full benefits and nutritional content.

    Active ingredients – These are the ingredients in the product that give it the proposed effect for the user. For example, Hyaluronic Acid is an active ingredient that delivers deep hydration to the skin.

    Ethically/Sustainably Sourced – This phrase is referring to who and how the ingredients have been sourced. Ethically sourced usually refers to the workers who have harvested the ingredients and that they have been paid fairly under good conditions. Sustainably sourced usually refers to the environment, and that the ingredients have been responsibly sourced in an eco-friendly way.

      Non-Toxic – A phrase often found on labels that has no real meaning because this phrase isn’t regulated, it is often used as a marketing tool that taps into consumer fears. We avoid using this phrase because we think it’s a way of scaremongering. Natural doesn’t always equate to “Non-Toxic” because some natural ingredients can be toxic to us – i.e. deadly nightshade.

      We hope this post clarified the difference between some of the Green Beauty Buzzwords. All of the products we stock should be well outlined about what categories they fall under. If you still have questions or you want to find out more about any specific products, just get in touch get in touch by emailing us here.

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