Why are organic cosmetics expensive? (3) | The Brown Bottle
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Why are organic cosmetics expensive? (3)

Jul 15, 2018 by Sora

You are quite interested in the organic cosmetics corner, but have you ever wondered, ‘Can’t the price be any lower than this?’.


I know that organic cosmetics are made of ingredients safe for the human body as well as for the environment, but would that justify this price gap between the organic and the non-organic cosmetics?


Restrictions on the ingredients of organic cosmetics

  • The product must contain at least 95% of natural ingredients
  • At least 95% the of natural ingredients must be organic
  • At least 10% of all ingredients including water must be organic
  • Mineral oil, silicone, paraben, synthetic perfumes, synthetic colors and such chemical raw materials are prohibited to be used as the ingredients
  • Animal testing is not allowed
  • Use recyclable containers
  • The manufacturer must receive the local inspections on the soil, ingredients,  production process and transportation, then pass the environmental standards twice a year on a regular basis.

By glancing, you may think that ‘Ok, now that is the proper way to manufacture organic cosmetics since they are costly’. But, if you try to manufacture cosmetics (especially, for commercial uses), you will realise the above restrictions are so hard to comply with.


‘Mineral oil, silicone, paraben, synthetic perfume, synthetic colouring and such chemical raw materials are banned.’

Ah~ I believe this restriction increases the cosmetics’ manufacturing cost dramatically. To make it easier for you to understand, shall we take a look at Paraben and Sodium Levulinate & Sodium Anisate preservatives that are approved for their use in organic cosmetics?

  • Paraben: After it has been discovered to disturb the hormone secretion system and found to have a harmful effect on our body, paraben became the typical synthetic preservative ingredient that consumers avoid. Paraben is used as preservative in almost every product, like toothpaste, shampoo, lotion and colour cosmetics because it gives the most definite preservative effect even in very small amounts (0.01-0.3% of the product). The price is enormously cheap while its preservative effect is incomparable to any other ingredients. Thus, many companies cannot simply turn the cold shoulder to paraben.
  • Sodium Levulinate & Sodium Anisate: Usually, the preservatives ingredients allowed to be used in organic cosmetics are very expensive. This preservative blend for instance, is 5-6 times more expensive than paraben, and the total amount used in the product is 3-4% or sometimes increase 10 times to that of paraben to be give preservative effect which is nothing close to that of paraben. Not only, but it also has shorter preservation period compared to paraben. One of the ingredients that increases the cost of organic cosmetics is NO DOUBT the preservative. This also explains why most of the products are disqualified for their safety, not due to any other ingredients, but due to the preservative. (Scent of danger - Harmful chemicals in your perfume)

I took preservative as a typical example. But there are many similar cases, like using low-cost mineral oil instead of natural hydrating substance like natural oil or butter, using silicone which only emphasises on its spreadability and using synthetic fragrance with hazard warning on instead of natural essential oil. All of these examples are ingredient selections for the mass production of budget products with lower production costs.


Why is the above restriction so hard to comply with?

To be short, it makes the selection pool of ingredients narrower and the production cost larger. Ingredients approved for use in organic cosmetics do not vary widely. The profit-driven companies tend not to steer their way to organic cosmetics. When the production cost increases so as the price, and the higher price is the most obvious way to lose their customers. That's why most companies advertise hugely about little amount of natural ingredients in their product, but they do not disclose the whole ingredient labelling.


Do not focus on the one or two visible ingredients. Let’s check the ingredient labelling of the product thoroughly!

So that we can identify any harmful ingredient in their slightest bit. Thoughtful purchasing behaviours of each and every customer will change the action of manufacturer.

Just like cruelty free products became popular when many customers boycotted the products tested on the animal, if more people decide to purchase organic cosmetics, we will be able to have a larger variety of choice and moderate price for organic cosmetics.

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