Natural vs organic: what’s the difference

Monday, 9 July 2012

Natural vs organic: what's the differenceThese days it seems you can’t visit a beauty aisle that doesn’t have products practically screaming ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ on its packaging. But what’s the difference really? BeautySA spoke to Kate Townshend, founder of Harmless House, and she broke it down for us…

Natural products

Natural products supposedly contain natural ingredients, but there is no guarantee that those ingredients were not grown or preserved using chemicals – from chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to chemical preservatives – once the ingredient is harvested. In addition to this, there is no law defining what may or may not be included in a ‘natural’ product (chemical or naturally derived), nor what percentage needs to be natural in order to be labeled ‘natural’.

Organic products

Organic products on the other hand, are made with organic ingredients which have been grown, harvested and manufactured using absolutely no chemicals. However, the term ‘organic’ may only be used to describe products which contain over 95% organic ingredients. Products made using between 70% and 95% organic ingredients are described as ‘containing certified organic ingredients’. A product with under 70% organic ingredients is described as non-organic, and these products are then strictly only ‘natural’.

‘What you ideally want to look out for are products which are made using 100% naturally derived ingredients, you will need to double check on the ingredients list, and that the brand is organic certified,’ Kate says. ‘That way you can be sure that the ingredients are truly natural, and on top of that, a significant percent is organic too.’

Toby Scheckter, the creator of Scheckter’s OrganicEnergy drinks, agrees: ‘Natural has very little meaning and no regulation body. Unlike the natural claim, organic certified products are guaranteed to have been grown without chemical herbicides and pesticides and there are never synthetic preservatives or additives.’


Written by

Megan Kakora has helped launch the websites of, and been the online editor for, some of South Africa’s biggest glossy magazines. She believes in less-is-more, except when it comes to her collection of nail polish colours.
Megan on Google+

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  1. BeautyBloggess

    Organic Monitor conducted a survey on products, giving them a rating from 1 to 10. Very interesting to see how many products actually made it onto the natural list.

    7 years ago •

  1. Angelisha

    Informative, always wondered what’s the difference. Thanks for sharing.

    7 years ago •

  1. Vuvoo

    Now i know the diff, thanks to BSA!

    7 years ago •

  1. Rochelle Kay

    Very informative. Too much green washing going on these days!

    7 years ago •

  1. joubert

    There’s only one option go organic that’s the latest trend for skincare, healthy eating etc.

    7 years ago •

  1. ricebunny

    I was also wondering about that! Thanks for the article

    7 years ago •

  1. Samantha

    Thank you for the interesting article!

    7 years ago •

  1. landman

    Will really make a point out of it to read and check the ingredients list, good article on this subject thank you

    7 years ago •

  1. kunene

    organic is worth the price as there is an assurance that no harmful chemicals were used, only organic ingredients. love it

    7 years ago •

  1. Debsie

    And there I learn something today. Interesting thank you

    7 years ago •

  1. McConney

    Awesome! I always wondered what the difference was.

    7 years ago •

  1. Chicara

    Very interesting. I didn’t realise I was making a mistake comparing natural to organic. Thanks. :)

    7 years ago •

  1. DIVA

    Good to know but organic products are a bit expensive hey.

    7 years ago •

  1. Botes

    Id love to try organic versions of make up just to see how different it is from normal make up. I’ve always wondered about organic products? I don’t mind paying for awsome products, but I am not sure about the benefits it has? And why its better then normal make up, Id love to be more informed. This article has tickled my curiosity.

    7 years ago •

  1. Zu

    Oh.. I see. Its quite expensive,,,to get the benefits of ORGANIC trend, one must do it religiously and consistently. Its a lifestyle!

    7 years ago •

  1. Steenkamp

    Thank you for this article. I try to buy organic but it expensive

    7 years ago •

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