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. Organic ingredients must be grown, and this isn’t always possible for skincare products. Our sunscreens, for example, use natural minerals. By definition, they are not organic, 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. There are rigid rules that apply to everything that goes into a product, including a lot of ingredients that are never allowed.

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.
  • None of the ingredients can be irradiated.
  • No sewage sludge can be used in the growth or production of any of the ingredients.
  • 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 this rule, and these ingredients are called out specifically. The reason they are allowed in some products is 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 then considered 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)

None of these are used in Goddess Garden sunscreens, but they do 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?

The two certifications are not directly connected, but both require 100% of the ingredients to be 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 GMOs are never included, in any amount, in the product.


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