What is the Difference Between Vegan, Natural, and Organic Cosmetics?

What is the difference between Vegan, Natural, and Organic Cosmetics

“Green Products” are a coveted category taking the beauty market by storm. Organic, all-natural, vegan, and sustainable are a few terms among a broad language we’re no strangers to as we browse makeup and skincare companies and products online and in person. There’s an increasing demand from younger, more socially conscious buyers for cosmetic companies to promote these badges of ethos—they want products they can feel good about while looking their very best while wearing them.

Synthetic ingredients and animal-tested products are not only less sought after, but they’re slowly diminishing from the market, thanks to the rise of natural alternatives. There’s a variety of products you’ll be happier to purchase, but knowing what labels mean when they’re strikingly similar can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help!

In this article, you’ll discover key comparisons between:
  • Natural Cosmetics
  • Natural Organic Makeup
  • Vegan Beauty Products

What is the Difference Between Vegan, Natural, and Organic Cosmetics?

Let’s decipher some commonly used phrases in the green cosmetic industry, and how you can be certain if companies truly stand behind fair-trade products and ethical, clean ingredients.


The term “natural” is, unfortunately, not regulated. There is no standard, legal definition for the word, and although it may seem like companies spew out such a popular phrase just for the sake of looking good, it’s not always a false claim. “Natural” refers to raw ingredients of natural origins (think bees wax or aloe). Natural cosmetics can be identified as such by looking at the ingredients.

According to Glamour, in a natural product, the botanicals and other all-natural ingredients are listed near the top, while synthetic ingredients nearer the bottom. Keep in mind that natural elements are often listed by their scientific name. Although you may wish to see something like “citrus” and “sea salt”, you’ll most likely see a longwinded, scientific title or Latin-origin name, so be sure to double check the meaning online!

You’ll also have a good sense of whether a product is 100% natural if the shelf life is significantly shorter than some of your other products.


The term “vegan” is also not regulated, nor is it legally required to check a brands’ credentials who market the claim.

When you see companies promoting themselves as vegan and label their cosmetics as such, that means the product does not contain any animal by-products or animal extracts. To be even more certain, check for a Vegan Society logo on the packaging— this logo certifies the product doesn’t contain any animal products or by-products in the ingredients list or manufacturing processes.

Vegan is also a word closely paired with “cruelty-free”— the lack of animal products within a product implies no animals were harmed in the safety testing process. Always remember that just because makeup or skincare is marketed as vegan, does not mean that the product is 100% natural or contains zero synthetic additives! When in doubt, always check the ingredient label.


The first term on this list that has legal regulations and requirements, organic makeup is composed of organically farmed ingredients — just like some of your favorite foods.

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that in order for a product to wear the USDA Organic seal and truly be labeled as “organic”, it must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients — all organic ingredients must be identified in the ingredients list.

That being said, a product only needs to contain a small percentage of organic ingredients in order to market itself as such. For ultimate confidence in an organic makeup product you’re excited to try, be sure to look for the USDA Organic seal on the packaging!

Vegan, Natural, or Organic Cosmetics - Let’s recap!

Natural makeup implies that there are raw ingredients from natural origins; vegan beauty products contain no animal products, by-products or extracts; organic makeup is composed of organically farmed materials, commonly packaged with the USDA Organic seal credential.

Now, you can have confidence as you browse the store aisles or scroll through an online website that you’ll know exactly whether a brand is making false claims, or if they’re truly eco-conscious.

Have the confidence to be your true self while looking and feeling your very best. Shop vegan, cruelty-free cosmetics at KZA Cosmetics.