Are Organic Skincare Products GMO Free?

We hear about GMOs everywhere. Some people avoid them like the plague, others are just learning about them, and some have seen so many messages about them that it’s just too much to think about. You may already know that organic requirements for skincare are different than they are for food, but here’s some good news: organic skincare is also 100% GMO free!

Organic? GMO free? OMG!

NSF by QAI organic certificationNavigating all these certifications can be confusing, but here’s what you need to know. The organic certification for skincare is different than it is for food. That’s because the key to the USDA certification is just that: food. For an ingredient to be considered organic, it has to be grown or raised. This isn’t always possible for skincare products. Our sunscreens, for example, use natural minerals. By definition, the minerals aren’t organic since they’ve never been alive, but they aren’t highly processed chemicals either. Skincare can’t follow the exact same guidelines as food, but that doesn’t mean it gets a free pass to use GMOs or concerning ingredients. Rigid rules apply to everything that goes into a product, and many ingredients are not allowed in any quantity.

Skincare companies like Goddess Garden, that are committed to using organic ingredients, can get what’s called an NSF/ANSI 305 organic certification. To be certified, companies must meet strict organic standards and have their products verified by a third-party. We use Quality Assurance International (QAI), and you will see that certification on all our labels.

Organic requirements for skincare

Certified organic sunscreenUnder the NSF/ANSI 305 organic standard, a minimum of 70% of the ingredients must be organic. Beyond that, there are other requirements that pertain to all the ingredients, not simply the 70%. One of the most important requirements is that all of the ingredients must be GMO free! For easy reference, QAI requires all of the following:

  • 70% or more of the ingredients must be certified organic.
  • 100% of the ingredients must be GMO-free.
  • No irradiated ingredients are allowed.
  • The ingredients cannot be grown or produced with sewage sludge.
  • None of the ingredients can be a formaldehyde donor, meaning they can’t give off formaldehyde.

In addition, many ingredients are never allowed, in any quantity. In general, to receive an organic certification, a product cannot contain synthetics or petroleum products, even if they would otherwise meet the above restrictions.

Exceptions to the rule

There are very few exceptions to the rule, but there are a few. These ingredients are allowed in some products because they help ensure the safety of consumers with regard to a suitable shelf life. People regularly shop for food, but it would be strange to purchase skincare products every few days. Not using these exception ingredients could cause specific products to go bad very quickly. They are the best option when the alternatives are harsh ingredients or the risks of not using them at all. These ingredients include:

  • Sodium benzoate (EWG rating: 3)
  • Potassium sorbate (EWG rating: 3)
  • Sorbic acid (EWG rating: 3)
  • Benzoic acid (EWG rating: 3)

We don’t use any of these ingredients in our sunscreens, but these ingredients will sometimes show up in other certified-organic products, so it helps to understand why they are used.

Is the organic certification part of the Non-GMO Project?

While the two certifications aren’t directly connected, they but both ensure the product is 100% GMO-free. The organic certification covers a wide range of topics, and can be harder or longer to obtain, so the Non-GMO project gives companies a way to show their commitment to not using GMOs, without being certified organic.

If you’re looking to avoid GMOs, all you really need to know is that both the USDA and NSF/ANSI 305 organic certifications and the Non-GMO Project certification will all make sure the final product is completely GMO-free!


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