Delivering the week’s top organic food news
100% Non-GMO

Taking Stock of the Importance of Organic in the Independent Beauty Category

Last week, I attended Indie Beauty Expo in NYC, a fantastic showcase of independent beauty brands, most of which are natural or organic.

As consumers are demanding more clean beauty products than ever before, upstart companies are rushing to meet this demand. Indie Beauty Expo has been riding this wave and now hosts events in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, London and Berlin.

Wanting to get a sense of how organic fits into the indie beauty care landscape, I spoke with Jillian Wright, Co-Founder of Indie Beauty Expo and someone who understands this industry as well as anyone.

Do beauty brands see the USDA organic certification as important for credibility? Or, in the natural beauty space, is it just not that critical yet? 

If a brand can go through the process, I believe it is worth it. From a consumer perspective, any third-party validation is beneficial and shows the consumer they are legitimate. Other certifications that I look for are PETA, NOHBA, Leaping Bunny, and EcoCert. I know that the process is daunting and time-consuming, so if a brand becomes certified, it really means something.

Are consumers increasingly asking questions about ingredients being “organic” or do they accept “natural” as just as good? Or, is “natural” perceived to be better than “organic” in the beauty space?

There are two new buzzwords within the clean beauty space, and they are “transparent” and “plant-derived”.

A brand has a better chance of being taken seriously if they stay away from verbiage like “organic”, “natural”, “clean” or “green” and instead use phrases like “transparency” or “plant-derived”.

Because there is little to no government oversight or standards in the personal care space, these terms are being bastardized. It’s confusing to the consumer and creates distrust.

Are brands seeking out more and more organic ingredients? Or, is price a factor for them not doing so?

Brands are absolutely are trying to find the best ingredients, whether that means locally-sourced or fair trade. Additionally, they are well aware of the cycle of an ingredient. Factors such as where it comes from, how it is harvested, who is harvesting their ingredients, and how they are processed are all important factors today.

Independent brands are paying more for ingredients because of reasons of purity and also to maintain the standards indie is known for. The downside is that the demand for these ingredients is increasing as well, so sourcing may begin to cost more. Hopefully, the industry can find balance with these self-funded brands without pricing them out of the market for raw ingredients.

Some very high-end brands, some of whom sell their products for hundreds of dollars, do not have organic certification. However, it doesn’t seem to impact consumer demand for these products. Furthermore, not having organic certification does not seem to diminish the perceived quality of these very high-end products. Can you please speak to that?

Like I mentioned, it is a daunting process to become USDA certified organic. There are several farms and suppliers from around the world that produce incredible ingredients.

When a small brand connects with their followers and shares their story, this can be just as good as a third-party certification because the consumer trusts the brand and their messaging. As a result, their “story” is enough.

You can’t underestimate an authentic relationship between a brand and its customer. Continued good experiences with the product will keep fans loyal, with or without a certification.

Here are some brands and products that stood out.

Sunia K is an oil made from the seeds of prickly pears, which are grown in very harsh conditions on organic farms in Tunisia. The oil is exceptionally high in Vitamins E and K, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants called betalains, which nourish, soothe and balance all skin types.

It takes one ton of fruit and ten full days of labor to carefully harvest and slowly cold-press one liter of pure oil, making it a very costly skincare product. However, only 2-3 drops are needed per use.

Each purchase helps to pay a fair salary to women and men who live in an area of Tunisia with over 40% unemployment — all with the goal of reducing poverty, empowering women, and strengthening community.


Love Sun Body is the first and only sunscreen in the U.S. certified by Ecocert Cosmos Natural, the international standard for organic and natural cosmetics and skincare products. This mineral sunscreen received a top score of 1 out of 10 in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.


Black seed oil is widely acclaimed for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, and modern research has identified phytosterols and the antioxidant thymoquinone in this product.

Zatik’s black seed oil can be used topically or internally, and it was one of the few USDA certified organic products at the show. It is cold-pressed and unrefined, and comes from organic Egyptian black cumin seeds.


The hemp CBD products from Yuyo Botanics — two ingestibles and one topical — are grown according to both organic and Biodynamic standards, and all of the products have been 3rd-party batch tested for purity, quality and cannabinoid content, during harvest and after formulation.

Co-founder Christie Tarleton and her husband Will have been known around Nashville, Tennessee for years as the local organic hemp farmers, and they have been part of the Tennessee Hemp Pilot Program since it began four years ago.

Yuyo Botanics was one of a dozen CBD products at the show, and this ingredient’s popularity continues to soar. CBD will become ubiquitous in the beauty and personal care category, especially if industrial hemp farming becomes legal under the 2018 impending farm bill.


What makes Blüh Alchemy so unique is that it contains the world’s first cellular extracted organic botanicals. This cutting-edge extraction process works to rapidly harness a plant’s complete phytoactive profile, and its vital constituents are not damaged in this extraction process.

As such, independent clinical studies carried out by Southern Cross University have shown ORAC scores for Vitamin E, Vitamin C, green tea, and goji berries far exceeding industry benchmarks. There are just a handful of companies in the world that have access to this cellular extraction method, and Blüh Alchemy is one of them.


Pili nuts are highly nutritious yet seldom used in the U.S. organic food market.

Understanding the power of this food, Pili Ani decided to become the very first company to use the pili tree as a beauty product. The base and active ingredient is extracted from the pili nut’s pulp, not the nut itself.

Pili pulp oil (or pili oil) contains high levels of carotenoids, phytosterols and tocopherols (vitamin E), which are all powerful antioxidants. It is also rich in beta-carotene, a known source of vitamin A. Furthermore, chemical and nutritional analyses show pili oil is comparable, if not more potent, than avocado and olive oil.

The growth of Pili Ani helps farmer communities in the Philippines maintain a sustainable livelihood and contributes to the Pili Literacy Program.


Sea vegetables, particularly kelp, are playing an important role in fighting the acidification of our oceans.

Planet Botanicals, which supports the production of these sea vegetables, is hand-harvesting seaweed from Maine and is uses a mix of bladderwrack, sea lettuce, sugar kelp, and Irish moss, along with a blend of organic coconut, organic olive and organic jojoba oils.

This natural, plant-based product is rich in sea minerals, something not often found in other body washes.


Have you ever wanted to travel with apple cider vinegar or coconut oil but didn’t have a small bottle to take with you? Or, maybe you didn’t want to deal with any liquids at all.

Australia-based Tonik has taken this problem that we didn’t know we had and devised an extremely elegant solution — capsules, using all-organic ingredients.

Tonik offers three products — organic apple cider vinegar capsules, organic hemp seed oil capsules, and organic coconut oil capsules.


(with Jillian Wright, Co-Founder of Indie Beauty Expo)

Have a great day!

Max Goldberg, Founder

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course

Walmart CMO: Fewer SKUs

By Emily Crowe

Steve Bratspies, Chief Merchandising Officer for Walmart US, had some great advice for brands -- a wide range of SKUs is not the best strategy.


Mexico's New Government Pledges to Ban GMO Corn

Excellent news! It is being reported that Mexico's president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will ban GMO corn as soon as his new government takes office.


Brexit Could Spell Disaster for UK Organic Food Producers

By Matilda Long

Roger Kerr, CEO of Organic Farmers & Growers, has issued a dire warning that organic food suppliers would undoubtedly go out of business if a "no deal Brexit" takes place.

Second Course

Birth Defects Linked to Atrazine

By Ken Roseboro

Researchers are finding very scary correlations between the toxic herbicide atrazine (found in drinking water) and birth defects in children.

The Independent

Animal Cruelty Scandal Breaks Out at UK Organic Dairy

By Jane Dalton

The U.S. isn't the only country who has credibility problems with organic dairy operations.

The New York Times

Critical Pesticide Studies are Being Phased Out

By Danny Hakim and Eric Lipton

Important read. With the support of Big Ag, the Trump administration is trying to curb the use of human health studies in the regulation of toxic pesticides.


Monsanto Now Faces 8,000 Lawsuits Over Glyphosate

With California's landmark court case ruling that Monsanto's Roundup was responsible for a groundskeeper's cancer, the number of lawsuits against the company has grown to more than 8,000.

Third Course
New Cannabis Ventures

Building the Biggest Organic Cannabis Company

By Carrie Pallardy

A profile of Canada's The Green Organic Dutchman, which is aiming to be the dominant global organic cannabis brand.


Organic Tofu Maker Hodo is Taking Off

By Kate Krader

As one of the fastest-growing companies in the plant-based category, Hodo founder Minh Tsai is taking his organic tofu products to Americans nationwide.

The New York Times

How Rivals are Responding to Amazon's Entrance into Grocery

By Erin Griffith

Increasingly, Amazon's competition is looking to start-ups to help them fend off the retailing behemoth.

The material in this newsletter is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. All requests must be in writing. Please use our contact form to request republication rights.

Share This Newsletter

Share This

Search Newsletter Archive

Newsletter Archive

This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* Organic consumers and advocates got a big victory the other day when a federal court issued a decision concluding that a legal challenge to the USDA’s withdrawal of organic animal welfare provisions could proceed.

* In other positive news, the Canada Organic Trade Association announced that government and industry bodies are successfully collaborating to meet the 2020 deadline for updating the Canadian Organic Standards. Additionally, the government is investing $8.3 million towards organic agriculture research.

* This September marks the first annual National Palm Done Right Month, a campaign designed to build awareness about responsibly sourced palm oil, and several new retail partners, such as Thrive Market and Natural Grocers, have joined as supporters.

* Nutiva is entering the clean beauty space with a line of organic coconut body oils.

* Here is a list of the ten best farm-to-table dining experiences in the world.

* High profile plant-based chef Matthew Kenney will be opening up his first restaurant in Chicago next month.

* In Miami, real estate developers are using organic restaurants as a draw to attract residents.

Newsletter Topics

Organic Insider