By  on July 6, 2007

Natural and organic beauty items continue to trickle onto the beauty scene. Most recently, items bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic seal have launched in stores, including items by Origins and Nature's Gate. What makes these launches so newsworthy is that each brand managed to concoct formulas for lotions worthy of the seal — a complicated feat compared with making seal-worthy oils and soaps, which require little technology or innovation.

Additional entries into the organic segment are expected for 2008, including a USDA seal-bearing lotion line from Alba, owned by the Hain Celestial Group in Melville, N.Y. Levlad LLC, the makers of Nature's Gate, operates a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing plant capable of producing up to 100 million units of USDA seal-worthy beauty products. Already the company is receiving inquiries from "major companies" interested in learning more about organic formulas, said Nature's Gate chief executive officer Paddy Spence. Mass retailers are beginning to acknowledge the importance of separating natural and organic items from mainstream items in order to demonstrate their point of difference. In turn, many are planning four- to eight-foot sets within the beauty aisle, at stores including Target, Walgreens and possibly Rite Aid, which will join CVS and Longs in their support to showcase items separately with natural and organic ingredients.

But while strides are being made in organic beauty, it seems most consumers, when posed with a choice, would at this time rather have a skin care or hair care item that uses high-tech formulas with superior results.

"I think my customers have yet to really wrap their arms around [organic]," said Robin Coe-Hutshing, owner of the Studio at Fred Segal. Rite Aid's Kathy Horton said consumers may be apt to try an organic product but would only use it again if it worked well. "Consumers will not sacrifice performance," she said.

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