Making Sense of the Natural and Organic Skin Care Standards

Consumers are increasingly showing interest in purchasing ‘green’, more sustainable, and ethically produced skincare products, on the back of this, a large number of natural & organic standards have been introduced in recent years.

The most interesting developments in recent years have been the attempts to form regional or international groupings based on harmonisation of various national standards such as Cosmos and Na-TRUE discussed below:

COSMOS

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. The requirement they are aiming for is 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 that are paving the way for the natural and organic skincare EU regulations, with the aim to create a globally recognised label and certificate.

A number of other organisations in Europe are ensuring that only products that meet strict quality assurance standards, are able to display this certified natural seal of approval these include the following:

BDIH

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 manufactures of products that bear the BDIH logo.

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

The organic skincare products approved by the BDIH can only be trusted to contain only natural ingredients, as they only require manufacturers to use organic content where possible. This is more of a realistic target to meet for most manufacturers of personal care products, rather than having to go completely organic. For more information on organic skincare standards, our question and answer article is worth a read.

Na-TRUE

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

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

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

Three stars: These require that 95% of all agricultural ingredients fall in line with Na True’s acceptable list of ingredients, which will be certified as organic skincare 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 to this, Na True is actively campaigning for an increase in joint studies of scientific data on natural substances that are used in cosmetics.

Other governing bodies in Europe include:

  • Ecocert Greenlife – France
  • COSMEBIO – France
  • BDIH – Germany
  • Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute (ICEA) – Italy
  • Follow the link, to find out about the highly regarded Soil Association standards in the UK

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

The United States and Canada

  • United States Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA NOP) and NSF ANSI 305 being the major organic standard
  • Natural Products Association (NPA) is the only real natural cosmetic standard to date

The naked truth

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

However, because there are a number of vested businesses associated with different standards and certifications, the chances of this happening in the foreseeable future are probably not going to happen, unless forced upon them by regulation.

References:

  • 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, www.organicmonitor.com
  • COSMOS-standard AISBL, www.cosmos-standard.org

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