Organic vs Natural Cosmetics: Exploring the Differences and How to Order from the UK

Updated: 04/08/2023

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using organic and natural cosmetics as we become more conscious about the ingredients we put on our skin. Inundated with labels and new trends circling social media, it can be overwhelming to differentiate between the various types of skincare and their ingredients. Natural, organic, clean, or pure - are these just marketable buzz words or can they make a difference to your wellness and beauty routine?

In this blog post, we will delve into the distinctions between organic and natural cosmetics, exploring their lists of ingredients and certification processes. Additionally, we will guide you on how to order products from reputable UK-based brands, known for their commitment to sustainability and using ethically-sourced ingredients using a free forwarding address.

Understanding Organic and Natural Cosmetics

To be labeled as organic, cosmetics must meet stringent criteria set forth by reputable certification organizations. The primary standard is usually the percentage of organic ingredients in the product. For instance, in the United States, the USDA Organic certification requires cosmetics to contain at least 95% organic ingredients (excluding water and salt) to bear the USDA Organic seal. Similarly, in Europe, the COSMOS Organic standard mandates that organic cosmetics must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients, with strict limitations on synthetic substances. 

Organic cosmetics are also subject to regulations concerning the sourcing and processing of their organic ingredients to ensure environmental sustainability and ethical practices. By adhering to these rigorous standards and obtaining official certifications, organic cosmetics brands provide consumers with the confidence that their products are genuinely organic and free from harmful chemicals.

Understanding the difference between natural and organic cosmetics is crucial as these terms are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. Natural cosmetics are made from ingredients derived from nature, such as plant extracts, essential oils, and minerals, and they aim to minimize the use of synthetic substances.

On the other hand, organic cosmetics go a step further by adhering to strict regulations and certifications that ensure the ingredients are grown and processed without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). While all organic cosmetics are natural, not all natural cosmetics are organic. Some natural products may still contain certain synthetic elements or non-organic ingredients.

How Organic Cosmetics Make a Difference

Organic cosmetics offer a range of significant benefits for both consumers and the environment. By using organic cosmetics, you can reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals commonly found in conventional beauty products, leading to fewer skin irritations and potential health risks. These products are particularly suitable for those with sensitive skin, as they are formulated with gentle, natural ingredients. 

Choosing organic cosmetics also contributes to a cleaner and more sustainable planet since organic farming methods promote eco-friendly practices, reducing the environmental impact. Moreover, many organic cosmetics brands are cruelty-free, meaning they do not test their products on animals, aligning with ethical values and promoting more humane practices in the beauty industry. 

The organic ingredients used in these products retain more nutrients and antioxidants, providing added benefits for your skin's health and overall well-being. Additionally, organic cosmetics brands often prioritize ingredient transparency and carry certifications from reputable organizations to verify their organic status, giving you peace of mind about the products you use. 

Benefits of Natural Skincare

Natural skincare products also offer a host of benefits for your skin and the environment. By choosing natural skincare, you opt for products that are formulated with ingredients derived from nature, such as plant extracts, essential oils, and botanicals. These products are typically free from synthetic additives, reducing the risk of skin irritation and adverse reactions. Natural skincare is often well-suited for sensitive skin, as it avoids harsh chemicals that can cause discomfort. Furthermore, supporting natural skincare means promoting sustainable sourcing practices and eco-friendly manufacturing, contributing to a cleaner and greener planet. 

Many natural skincare brands prioritize cruelty-free practices, ensuring their products are not tested on animals. The nutrient-rich properties of natural ingredients provide nourishment and hydration to the skin, promoting a healthy and radiant complexion. 

Organic vs Natural: Key Differences

In the UK, some of the biggest beauty and health retailers have embraced the growing demand for organic and natural skincare products. Stores like Boots, Holland & Barrett, and Selfridges offer a diverse selection of skincare brands that prioritize clean, sustainable, and ethically-sourced ingredients. Before you start shopping, it's best to know the key differences between organic and natural beauty products that lie in their ingredient standards, certifications, and the level of regulatory oversight they undergo. Here are the main distinctions:

Ingredient Standards

Organic products must meet strict standards regarding the sourcing and processing of their ingredients. They are formulated with organic plant extracts, oils, and other components cultivated without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs. The percentage of organic ingredients in the product is regulated, with many certifications requiring at least 95% organic content.

Natural products are made from ingredients derived from nature, such as botanicals, essential oils, and plant extracts. While they aim to minimize the use of synthetic additives, natural products may still contain some non-organic components.


To carry the label "organic," beauty products must undergo certification by reputable organizations such as the USDA Organic in the United States or COSMOS Organic in Europe. These certifications verify that the product meets specific organic standards.

While some natural products may carry certifications like the COSMOS Natural standard, the term "natural" is not as strictly regulated as "organic." As a result, natural products may vary in terms of their ingredient sourcing and overall formulation.

Regulatory Oversight 

Organic cosmetics are subject to more stringent regulations and oversight to ensure compliance with organic standards. The use of the term "organic" is legally defined and regulated in various regions, providing consumers with a higher level of assurance about the product's authenticity.

The term "natural" lacks a universally accepted definition and can be used more loosely by beauty brands. This makes it important for consumers to carefully read ingredient labels and rely on reputable brands with transparent sourcing practices.

Environmental Impact 

Organic farming practices promote sustainability and reduce environmental impact by avoiding synthetic chemicals and encouraging eco-friendly agricultural methods.

While natural products may also emphasize sustainable sourcing, the lack of strict regulations means that not all natural beauty brands may prioritize environmentally friendly practices.

Organic beauty products adhere to strict organic standards, are certified by recognized organizations, and undergo more rigorous regulatory oversight. Natural beauty products, while derived from nature, may vary in their ingredient sourcing and formulation, with less standardized certification processes. So if you're seeking cleaner and more sustainable beauty products, you should consider organic options with reputable certifications to ensure you're making informed and environmentally conscious choices.

UK Regulations of Organic and Natural Skincare Products 

In the UK, both organic and natural skincare products are regulated to ensure their safety, efficacy, and adherence to specific standards. The regulation of these products falls under the responsibility of several government bodies and independent organizations.  Here's how organic and natural skincare products are regulated in the UK:

Organic Skincare Products 

In the UK, organic skincare products must comply with the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations. These regulations set out requirements for safety, labeling, ingredients, animal testing, and notification of products. There is no legal definition of organic for cosmetic products, but there are some voluntary certification schemes that can verify the organic claims of products, such as the Soil Association Certification. This scheme has standards for organic cosmetics that cover the sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, and labeling of products. 

In the UK and EU, organic skincare products are regulated by the European Union's COSMOS Organic standard, which sets the criteria for organic and natural cosmetics across Europe. COSMOS Organic requires that organic skincare products contain a minimum percentage of organic ingredients, usually around 95%, excluding water and salt. It also sets restrictions on the use of certain synthetic substances and requires the use of eco-friendly packaging materials. To be labeled as "organic," skincare products must undergo certification by one of the COSMOS-approved certification bodies. These certification bodies assess the product's ingredients, manufacturing processes, and compliance with COSMOS Organic standards.

Natural Skincare Products

  • Natural skincare products are not as strictly regulated as organic products, and there is no specific legal definition of "natural" in the UK or the European Union.
  • The term "natural" on skincare products can be used more loosely, which may lead to varying interpretations by different brands.
  • While there is no standardized certification for natural skincare products, some brands may choose to certify their products under the COSMOS Natural standard, which sets criteria for natural cosmetics without specific requirements for organic ingredients.

UK-Based Organic and Natural Cosmetics Brands 

The demand for clean, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly beauty products has been on the rise, leading to the emergence of numerous UK-based brands dedicated to formulating natural and organic skincare solutions. These brands often prioritize using ethically-sourced, plant-based ingredients and follow strict standards to offer high-quality products to consumers. 

Here are some UK-based organic and natural cosmetics brands known for their commitment to using natural ingredients and sustainable practices. 

  • Neal's Yard Remedies: This brand offers a wide range of organic skincare, body care, and aromatherapy products made from natural and ethically sourced ingredients.
  • Evolve Organic Beauty: Founded by Laura Rudoe, Evolve is a women-owned brand known for its commitment to using natural and sustainable ingredients to promote healthier skin and a more eco-friendly approach to beauty. 
  • REN Clean Skincare: REN focuses on clean and natural skincare products, avoiding potentially harmful ingredients while using plant-based actives.
  • Green People: A brand offering organic and natural skincare, body care, and hair care products for the whole family.
  • Dr. Organic: This brand uses organic and natural ingredients in its skincare, haircare, and body care products.
  • Odylique: Formerly known as Essential Care, Odylique creates handmade organic skincare products suitable for sensitive and allergy-prone skin.

What to Consider When Ordering Skincare from the UK 

Before ordering natural and organic cosmetics from the UK to other countries globally, there are several essential considerations to ensure a smooth and satisfactory experience:

  • Regulatory compliance: check the import regulations and restrictions of your country to ensure that the specific cosmetics you intend to order are permitted for import. Some countries may have restrictions on certain ingredients or product categories.
  • Customs and duties: be aware of potential customs duties, taxes, and import fees that may apply when bringing cosmetics into your country. These charges can vary depending on the value and type of products being shipped.
  • Product labels and ingredients: thoroughly read product labels to confirm that the cosmetics are indeed natural and organic, and that they meet your specific preferences and requirements. Look for certifications from reputable organizations that verify their organic or natural status
  • Packaging and sustainability: if you prioritize eco-friendly packaging, inquire about the seller's commitment to sustainable and eco-conscious packaging practices.

When shopping for cosmetics and makeup from the UK, please bear in mind that under specific circumstances, certain cosmetics may be classified as hazardous or dangerous goods. For example, aerosol products may be considered hazardous due to their pressurized containers and be subject to restrictions or additional requirements for shipping. Cosmetics that contain certain chemicals, especially those with specific safety concerns, may also be classified as hazardous or dangerous goods.

Find out more about shipping cosmetics classified as dangerous goods in our Ask the Expert video: 

Order Organic and Natural Skincare and Beauty Products from the Uk with forward2me 

Embracing organic and natural beauty products not only nourishes and rejuvenates the skin but also contributes to a more sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle. By understanding the distinctions between organic and natural cosmetics, and being aware of the specific regulations and certifications, consumers can make informed choices that align with their values. With a UK shopping address from forward2me, you can explore a number of UK brands making organic and natural cosmetics while enjoying benefits like free return to sender and price match guarantee

So, whether you're in search of organic skincare, natural makeup, or cruelty-free beauty products, ordering from the UK has never been easier. Empower yourself with the beauty products that resonate with your values and skincare needs while embracing a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. 

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