Soil Association Standard in Skin Care

Your body is the largest organ, and the skin acts as a porous protector, which allows some substances to enter and keeps others out.

Consumers of personal care products are becoming more aware of what they are putting on their skin, they know chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, and understand the impact on our health and wellbeing of applying this chemical cocktail.

It is the cumulative effect of using such ingredients regularly that is cause for concern. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average lipstick wearer consumes around 1.8kg of lipstick over the course of a lifetime.

As consumers become savvier about the cosmetics they purchase, the demand for products that are free from synthetic chemicals is increasing. In turn, the skincare market is saturated with companies wanting to benefit from this demand and using “green” beauty products as a marketing opportunity, for those companies wanting to cash in on this lucrative market.

All hail the soil association

The Soil Association is one of the most recognisable organic trademarks in the UK, founded in 1946, it is the UK’s main organic certification authority, with over 80% of organic products in the UK is certified by them.

Ingredients have to meet strict criteria, to ensure they are not damaging to human health or the environment. Their standards are based on principles that require a maximum amount of organic ingredients 95%, They also require minimum synthetic ingredients, and minimum ingredients to be processed.

They are also strict about clear labelling, this they believe, gives the consumer the opportunity to make an informed choice about the products they are purchasing.

Certification requirements

Their certification process is strict, the following points are guidelines as to what is involved in order to meet their organic certified criteria:

  • Give clear and accurate information on the label
  • Under no circumstances must the products be tested on animals
  • Not harmful to the environment or human health and the environment
  • They must be produced in line with the Soil Associations ethical trading standard
  • Their criteria are strict, personal care products must contain a minimum of 95% ‘organic’ ingredients.
  • The product should be fit for purpose and must have a very high proportion of organic ingredients
  • Be traceable, clearly identified, and separate from non-organic products at all stages of the manufacturing process.

The Soil Association does exclude water in their calculation if the water is used to create an ingredient, the weight of the water in contrast to the weight of the plant, is used to determine the organic percentage. This method prevents manufacturers from manipulating their organic content levels, and from using organic floral waters or hydrosols to boost the organic percentage. The inclusion of water in a formula is tricky to monitor, especially when it comes to shampoo, this is subject, I discuss in greater detail in the article organic shampoo.

The Soil Association has very impressive high standards, preventing just any company exploiting the term organic. As a result, any skincare manufacturer that carries the Soil Association standard is well regarded and committed to giving the customer what they want, when it comes to integrity in organic skincare.


The Soil Association is calling into question the use of the terms ‘Natural’ and ‘Organic’.

Peter Melchett, the Soil Associations policy director, has gone on record saying;

Many customers are using chemicals on their skin, chemicals found in paint formulas, household cleaning products and even antifreeze, when they genuinely thought they were buying a product made from only natural or organic ingredients, and this has got to stop!

He feels that many manufacturers of personal care products are duping customers into believing their products are free from chemicals when they clearly are not.

As of 2017 there are still no strict EU regulations, required for the labeling of personal care products.

The only way consumers can buy genuine natural or organic personal care products is to look for an official certification label, such as the Soil Associations.

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