Truly natural beauty

Always remember that true beauty comes from within — from within bottles, jars, compacts, and tubes. — Peter’s Almanac

Ask a hundred people on the street to define “beautiful” and you’ll likely get a hundred different responses. Ask Wendy McLain, health and beauty aids merchandiser for PCC, and she’ll say any definition should begin with “natural.”

It’s Wendy who selects the bottles, jars, compacts and tubes filled with the liquids, tablets, powders and creams that fill the shelves of the personal care area at PCC. She takes this responsibility very seriously, making certain each product is the safest, most sustainable and most satisfying available.

All products under Wendy’s watch are screened for performance, responsible packaging, and natural ingredients. It’s not an easy job. Products are routinely tested for appeal, effectiveness, and ease of use by PCC staff, but the personal care product industry has been slow to address the need for responsible packaging and natural ingredient criteria. A huge step forward is the NPA natural standard for personal care products.

Developed by the Natural Products Association (NPA), the standard defines the term “natural” as it applies to ingredients in natural skin and hair care products. Although the natural personal care industry has grown significantly over recent years, use of the term “natural” has never been subject to regulation or certification by any government or industry entity. Manufacturers have been free to promote products containing harmful synthetic or petroleum-derived ingredients as natural. Consumers have been confused, frustrated and put in harm’s way by misleading claims.

Under the NPA natural standard, a personal care product can only be described as natural if it contains at least 95 percent natural ingredients, or ingredients developed from renewable sources found in nature. In addition, the manufacturing processes used to create the product must not compromise the purity or effect of the ingredients. The standard also prohibits particular ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates and petrolatum.

PCC has publicly endorsed the NPA natural standard and in doing so has added another layer of scrutiny to its already stringent product procurement criteria. Any personal care product not covered by a signed agreement from the manufacturer attesting to compliance with the standard — by 2010 — will result in that product’s discontinuation.

Personal care product manufacturers can have their products certified by the NPA under the standard, which qualifies them to place the NPA’s “Natural Seal” on product labels. PCC does not require manufacturers to undergo certification, but is insisting that the manufacturer of each personal care product on PCC shelves verify that it will not supply PCC with products that do not comply with the NPA standard, that PCC will be notified if any product reformulations place those products in noncompliance, and that the manufacturer takes responsibility for staying current with any revisions to the standard.

Standards for sustainable packaging remain an unmet challenge for the natural personal care products industry.

More about: health and body care products, Natural Products Association, Natural Standard, sustainability

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