Once you walk down the organic road, it's hard to stop. And why should you? If you eat organic food, wear organic clothes, and sleep on organic sheets, you're probably ready to use organic health and beauty products. Unfortunately, finding lotions and shampoos that are truly organic—and not just labeled organic—isn't so simple.
Unlike the world of organic foods, the body care industry isn't regulated by a set of federal standards under which products are certified. That means synthetic preservatives and other agents can make their way into products labeled organic. So, what's an organic-lover to do? Read the labels, says Kathryn DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). “If the label on the back lists ingredients you don't recognize, that's a clue that it contains something not found in nature," she says. Whether you recognize them or not, ingredients to avoid, according to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association, include synthetic colors or fragrances, petroleum derivatives, paraben derivatives, or “anything that ends in '-eth' " such as sodium laureth sulfate.