1. Ignore the front of the package. The terms "natural," "organic," "hypoallergenic" and "non-toxic" are marketing terms — and mean little about what you're actually buying. Skip to the actual ingredient list. The ingredients are listed by amount — the higher on the list, the more in the product. If there are a lot of unfamiliar ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, check it out online before you head to the check out.
2. Don't get fooled by companies that water down their organics. Watch out for organic hydrosols or aqueous extracts high up in the list: They're mostly water, and may contain almost no organic content.
3. Look for seals from third-party certifiers. Seals from the Natural Products Association and the USDA mean the product meets the most stringent standards. Both mandate sourcing and processing of ingredients, as well as what else can be in the product.
4. Call the company. Ask them to tell you what percentage of their product is natural or organic, how they certify their ingredients, and what's in their fragrance (which can contain hundreds of chemicals including phthalates). If they tell you that the information is proprietary, tell them that you're going to buy something else.
5. Write to the Competition Bureau when you find a lousy label. The Bureau is responsible for misleading labelling, and they're complaint-driven, so they don't act unless they hear from consumers.