Terressentials USDA Certified Organic Natural Body Care

You spend your hard earned cash on skin and hair care products that are touted as "natural" and "organic" and believe that you are buying non-toxic and organic products, which mesh well with your health lifestyle.....but are they really non-toxic?

We sat down with Diana Kaye, co-founder of Terressentials, a company who makes hand-crafted organic products, where every ingredient used is 100% certified organic, to learn more.

Please can you tell our readers about Terressentials? What was the inspiration behind the creation of your company?

Well, Terre, means Earth in Latin, so it's all about: what's essential for the Earth, or from the Earth. About the how and why we got started, we'd like to point you to a terrific story by the Washington Post that does a great job of covering the things that got us started.

Terressentials is a genuine USDA certified organic company with authentic USDA certified organic products. Can you please tell us about your product line? What products do you offer for men, women and baby? We are artisan crafters of gourmet, genuine organic products for your face, body and hair. Our products can be used by women, men and children. Some folks even use our Fragrance-free products to wash their cats and dogs!

It's very important for us to point out that everything we make -- our full-line of more than 100 different items -- is certified to the USDA National Organic Program standard and we are certified as a dedicated organic processor. This is a critical distinction and few, if any, other companies can make this claim.

We craft a wide range of multi-use, effective organic personal care products that have everyone's needs covered from head to toe! Our organic Flower Therapy and our Fragrance-free skin care systems are both extremely popular. Our Baby products are all organic and are enjoyed by adults, too. Our Organic Real Soap Hand Soaps are year-round favorites loved by everyone and are non-polluting in our waterways. Our line also includes our unique clay-based Pure Earth Hair Wash (as seen on Dirty Jobs!), our yummy organic aromatic Body Washes and our range of deeply moisturizing 100% organic Anointing Body Oils and Body Cremes. Lastly, we must also mention our White Chocolate Lip Protectors available in Mint, Vanilla, Orange and Lime which are all 100% organic and positively delicious!

We understand that you are on a mission to educate others about the USDA National Organic Program and about the USDA organic seal. Please tell us more...

It's simple, really. Consumers don't expect industrial chemicals in products labeled "organic," but, when it comes to personal care products, unfortunately, they're usually in there. The one and only way to be sure that a product meets the rigorous legal standard for "organic" is to look for the USDA Organic Seal or the logo of a state organic certifier on the front of the product. The USDA National Organic Program federal regulations stipulate that a genuine certified organic product will bear the seal on the front label of each product bottle or jar. A product is not authentic if there is simply a USDA seal on a web site page or in a brochure or magazine ad -- the law says the USDA seal must be on the FRONT of each bottle.

Folks should also watch out for the duplicitous labeling practices, such as a faux organic logo or claim, as well as deceptive industry-based "organic" "standards." Big corporations in the personal care industry in the US and abroad have concocted chemistry-based "organic" "standards" and logos. After reviewing all of these chemically-permissive standards, and seeing their allowance of synthetic detergents, preservatives, emollients, emulsifiers and sunscreens, it doesn't surprise us that NONE of these industry standards -- hailing from the US, the European Union and elsewhere in the world -- come anywhere close to the strict legal USDA Organic federal standard that consumers want.

Remember...if it doesn't have the USDA seal, it ain't the real deal.

Many companies as "all natural" and "organic" are in fact selling unnatural synthetic and even toxic personal care products. Can you comment on this and offer any suggestions for readers?

It's unbelievable to us that this situation has gotten so far out of hand. "Natural" and "organic" should mean something that you can find in a field, a meadow, a forest, a grove, a garden or your kitchen, not something that comes out of a pipe at the back of a chemical refinery. But the chemical companies have taken over the "natural" personal care product market, and many health food stores and web site businesses are very happy with the dramatically increased revenues they are accumulating from sales of products labeled as "all natural" and "organic" from their trusting organic-minded customers. What is truly sad for consumers is that the USDA has said that they have very little funding, thus there has been no organic labeling enforcement in the personal care marketplace leaving consumers exposed to too many misleadingly labeled products.

It is troublesome to see that these big companies are only looking out for themselves and to see that they are using predatory schemes to manipulate the market and consumers. These large companies do not truly care about the health of their customers or about environmental degradation. If they truly cared about protecting health, they would not be using so many synthetic and toxic chemical ingredients in their "all natural" and "organic" products.

We think it's quite interesting to mention that that there appears to be quiet agreement among companies in the "natural" products industry to NOT seek USDA certification. That's correct, to NOT seek USDA certification. We believe the unspoken plan is that if no companies get their products certified, then all of the companies look like they're making sense when they repeat the same tall tales: "It's extremely difficult to get personal care products certified." and "It can't be done." and "There is no organic standard for personal care products." and "The USDA National Organic Program is only for food products." Remember the old adage "A lie told often enough becomes the truth?" We think that this is one prong of the chemical personal care industry's strategy to carry on with business as usual and to degrade the integrity of the National Organic Program. Why, the big companies just can't have a few small companies getting USDA certification and causing consumers to see their products for what they are: not so natural and not organic, right? Hey, it's the emperor's new clothes!

We have heard and read all of the excuses above many times. Our response to those who won't follow the rules is "shame on you." To caring organic consumers we say seek out and support the handful of pioneering companies who do have USDA certification and who are proving that USDA certification for personal care products is real and that one can enjoy a wide range of effective and lovely products that meet our USDA National Organic Program regulations -- the strictest standard in the world -- over 500 pages!

Our best advice to consumers is to read all of the ingredients on every label and ask "would I eat this ingredient?" Become an educated and informed consumer. Get to know the history of a company and their products -- WHO really makes it, WHERE it is made and HOW it is made. Don't be duped by slick marketeers. Finally, be sure to look for the USDA Organic seal on each bottle of product. The words "certified organic" or just "organic" on a label aren't good enough...they might be referring to one organic ingredient that's mixed into conventional industrial chemicals. Don't be fooled by the name of a certifier on the back label of a product, either (this is another trick frequently employed). Only legitimate USDA organic products will bear the USDA seal or a state government seal (from one of the 20 states with organic programs) on the FRONT label of each product.

Can you suggest some links where our readers can learn more?

*Green Standard
*Terressentials line free of Dioxane
*Dioxane found in Personal Care Products
*Organic FAQ
*Double Standard
*Ingredient Guide
*Tricks of the Trade
*USDA Organic
*Exposure to chemicals

Where can our readers buy your products?

Log onto to shop.

Will you be selling your products in any retail locations such as Whole Foods in the future?

We have been trying to find retail organic education partners since 1996 and we do have some smaller retail partners across the US and one in Canada that are listed on our "Stores" page on our web site. Generally, though, we have found (and this was surprising to us) that most of the stores that we have spoken to over the years don't like organic personal care ingredients advocates who tell it like it is. We found that most stores expected us to ignore the synthetic chemicals in personal care products and not EVER talk about why our products are different from the conventional products sold in all of the natural stores. We found we were also expected to run lots of expensive ads that make only vague, happy statements, fill a store's shelves with our products for free to buy our way into the store, AND produce cheap familiar/conventional products and sell them to the stores through a costly multi-tiered distribution network at deep discounted prices to allow retailers big markups -- big profits -- at your expense.

As far as we know, we make more 100% USDA Organic body care products than anyone. We have found that too many businesses that talk about supporting organic, environmentally-friendly or local are only interested in buying the stuff that is heavily advertised in magazines and that they can easily buy from their one big grocery distributor (produce, beans, potato chips, dog food, toilet paper, etc.).

However, we do have an informative, easy-to-use web site and secure shopping cart for our good customers and we can ship -- swiftly -- to virtually every address in the world, and our site is, of course, available 24 hours a day.

For those folks in the Washington DC metro area, we do have two lovely TerrEssentials company-owned organic boutiques in Maryland that are filled to the brim with our authentic USDA organic personal care goodies, and the finest examples of unique Fair Made and Fair Trade handcrafts, and organic chocolates, snacks and teas from around the world. Stop in and say hello!

Any additional comments you would like to add?

We'd like to point out that there is a tremendous positive environmental impact in purchasing genuine USDA certified organic products as there are countless studies proving the personal health and environmental benefits from supporting organic farmers and their organic agricultural materials (rather than being dependent on foreign oil) and consuming certified organic products. Think about it, when your lip balm tube is empty, where did all of your lip balm go? You ate it! By the way, did you know that sunscreen chemicals used in lip protectors were NEVER tested as food additives? Food for thought...

Another significant issue is that of sustainability. Genuine certified organic products are required to be clean and predominantly petrochemical-free. The petrochemical-free concept is what author David Steinman calls "Green Patriotism." Genuine USDA certified organic personal care products require far, far less foreign oil consumption than conventional petroleum-reacted synthetic chemical personal care products and, because USDA certified organic products are required to be minimally-processed, they are produced using far less unsustainable, non-renewable and polluting fossil fuel energy than conventional "all natural" and faux organic products. Be a Green Patriot! Buy certified organic products!

Lastly, we'd like to have folks think about the concept of Fair Made. Fair Made is all about supporting smaller companies in your own backyard-- local companies who are the backbone of the American economy -- made in the USA! Scrutinize your products and ask companies to state in writing where their products are manufactured. You might be surprised to discover how many personal care products are made overseas.

Our experience with the products.

A member of our panel had the opportunity to test out the Fragrance-free Organic Facial Care line for ultra-sensitive skin from Terressentials. The products arrived well packaged and we were struck by the beautiful labels which reminded us of the luxurious lotions and potions back in early 1900's. Although the tester has naturally great skin, which she attributes to good genes and her healthy organic lifestyle, she is prone to blemishes in the T-Zone area. She cleaned, toned and moisturized with the Fragrance-free line for a duration of 1 month and was pleasantly surprised that she did not get any breakouts during this time. Her skin was soft and supple and she received many compliments about her beautiful skin. The tester added that she looked forward to her using her Terressentials products each morning and evening and noted that that the products have a calming and relaxing effect on her. Also available in the fragrance free line is the Fragrance-free Organic Silken Velvet Body Lotion which our tester really loved. She noted that the body lotion is light and glides on easily. It is quickly absorbed and makes the perfect lotion for summer!

The Terresentials range includes organic certified products for the face, body, hair and bath.

Terressentials offers a full line of organic baby care products which include Organic Body Wash, Organic Baby Massage Oil, Organic Baby Body Lotion and a 100% organic Tush Treatment.

The Terressentials website is packed with educational information and you will want to bookmark it and read it in sections when you have the time.

Visit: to learn more.


Emily said...

This is TRULY Shocking. I am now informed. Thank you for posting such this educational interview. I will never look at ingredients the same away again. To think that I have been spending my cash on products that I thought were safe, only to find out they are loaded with carcinogens. The cheek of these companies to market their products are being safe when they are not. I am MAD. I will be buying Terressentials products and other products with the USDA Seal on the FRONT of the bottle. Thank you!

Ryan said...

This is certainly an eye-opener! Thank you for spreading the word.

Tim said...

Thank you for publishing such a thought provoking and enlightening interview.

Christine said...

Isn't it something that stores don't want to carry this line! I guess it is now up to us, the consumer to demand that stores carry this product. They have to listen to us, right??????

Jen said...

I found out about Terressentials which searching the EWG database. I sick and tired of getting "tricked" and decided that I was going to make a list of the SAFEST products for skin, body hair care etc. Well, Terressentials can up time and time again as being the safest and I decided to order some products. Well, not only are they the safest of the market, but they are terrific products! My skin has never looked this good, nor my hair and I feel amazing. I tell everyone I know about their products. I also wish that they were sold in stores, because sometimes I run out and forget to order and just wish I could run into WFoods and just pick up a product. We must demand that stores sell these fabulous products!

melissa said...

I am also SHOCKED. I eat an organic, vegan diet, avoid junk food and "Thought" that I was using natural and organic products. I feel cheated and seriously mislead. The scams that are pulled are incredible!!! To think of the money that I have spent on carcinogenic products makes my stomach turn!!!

Now I know better. This is why I read your magazine. Thank for educating us. You guys ROCK.

3rd Wave Inc said...

Organic products are essentially earth-friendly, sustainable and natural, not only in its entity but in production mode. Which makes safer and healthier.

Anonymous said...

How can the Terressentials hair mud be "organic" when the FDA does not classify bentonite as "organic".

This is an example of "made with Organic" and not "organic". That irritates me that they are being misleading with the labeling of the product.

ALSO, how can it be earth friendly when Bentonite clay is stripped mined?