Ingredients | Environmental

Natural and Organic Skin Care Standards

Consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing ‘green’, more sustainable, and ethically produced products.

On the back of this, many natural & organic standards have been introduced in recent years.

The most exciting developments in recent years have been the attempts to form regional or international groupings based on harmonising various national standards.

This article looks at those companies leading the way regarding more stringent regulation and certification.

Natural and organic regulatory bodies


The cosmetic organic standard has been created by some of Europe’s leading certification agencies, Ecocert Greenlife, COSMEBIO, BDIH, ICEA, and Soil Association.

They state their main objective is to establish a sustainable development, that reconciles economic progress and social responsibility, whilst maintaining the natural balance of the planet.

A project the cosmetics sector is willing to be fully involved in so they reach a brand new European and International standard for both organic and natural beauty products.

They are aiming for 95% of all agricultural ingredients to be organic and 20% of total products by weight to be organic; this includes water. These are the new harmonised standards paving the way for the natural and organic skincare EU regulations, intending to create a globally recognised label and certificate.

Several other European organisations ensure that only products that meet strict quality assurance standards can display this certified natural seal of approval.


In Europe, this is the German standard; it has generally been accepted as the main body that certifies natural personal care products. It sets strict standards for manufacturers of products that bear the BDIH logo.

Manufacturers can only use natural raw materials, such as botanical and herbal extracts and oils, in their formulas to get approved.

The organic skin care products approved by the BDIH can only be trusted to contain natural ingredients, as they only require manufacturers to use organic content where possible. This is more of a realistic target to meet for most personal care products than going completely organic. Our Q and A article is an excellent place to start for more information on organic skincare standards.


This is another example of a new standard to emerge out of Europe. It was founded by leading natural and organic skincare companies, such as Laverana, Santa Verde, and Welled.

Interestingly, many of NaTrue’s founding members are the same manufacturers who drew up the original guidelines for BDIH; Frustrations over a lack of European harmonisation are the main reason behind this.

Unlike BDIH, they are looking forward to implementing a three-star grading of certification:

Three stars require that 95% of all agricultural ingredients fall in line with Na True’s acceptable list of ingredients, which will be certified as organic skin care products.

Two stars: These require that 70% of all the ingredients fall under Na True’s acceptable list of ingredients. These products would be certified as natural cosmetics with organic content.

One star: This requires a maximum of 5-15% depending on the product category; these products would be certified as natural.

In addition, Na True is actively campaigning for increased joint studies of scientific data on natural substances used in cosmetics.

Other Governing Bodies in Europe

  • Ecocert Greenlife – France
  • COSMEBIO – France
  • Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute (ICEA) – Italy

Follow the link to find out about the highly regarded Soil Association.

This article does a great job of breaking down the different certifications and requirements.

The United States and Canada

  • United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA NOP) and NSF ANSI 305 are the major organic standards.
  • Natural Products Association (NPA) is the only absolute natural cosmetic standard.


So, where exactly are these standards going? While it is difficult to determine, there seem to be quite a few to choose from for the foreseeable future. There is a lot of discussion around the desire by product manufacturers for one worldwide standard.

However, because several vested businesses are associated with different standards and certifications, the chances of this happening in the foreseeable future will probably not occur unless forced upon them by regulation.


  • Organic Monitor report 1203-60, The UK Market For Natural & Organic Personal Care Products (3rd Edition), April 2013.</li
  • Organic Monitor report 8041-14, Technical Insights: Natural & Organic Cosmetics Brand Assessment, Aug. 2011,
  • COSMOS-standard AISBL,

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