Natural Cosmetics are not legally defined anywhere in the world. Many products claim to be natural but are far from it, so it’s all very well going on about organic products but how do you know if a product is truly organic? The answer often, although not always, lies in the labelling. But what do the labels actually mean? Here is my brief (but not completely conclusive) guide to organic cosmetic labelling…
Established in France in 1991, ECOCERT is now the largest organic certification organicsations in the world. A privately owed organisation, it has very strict standards and supervises the whole process from formulation to packaging. ECOCERT only give certification once they are convinced of not only the product but of the attitude of the company towards consumers, the environment and the ideology of the company.
According to ECOCERT standards requirements for certification are as follows:
- A minimum of 95% vegetable and natural ingredients
- A minimum of 10% organic ingredients from the total of 95% natural and vegetable ingredients
- Only 5% maximum synthetic ingredients that are not included on the negative list (this includes mineral oils, SLS, Parabens, silicone etc)
Founded in 1946 the Soil Association is one of the oldest certification organisations. The Soil Association works to research, develop and promote sustainable relationships with producers and manufacturers in order to produce healthy food, cosmetics, natural and herbal products, while protecting and enhancing the environment.
Their organic certification standards cover every aspect of the product ensuring that they are:
- Are fit for their purpose
- Have as high as possible proportion of organic ingredients
- Be clearly identified, traceable and separate from non-organic products at all stages of manufacturing
- Not be tested on animals
- Not be harmful to human health and the environment in manufacture and use
- Be produced in line with our ethical trade standards
- Be labeled to give clear and accurate information to the consumer.
The USDA is the American federal department responsible for the governmental policy on farming, agriculture, forestry and food. USDA certified Organic products are produced without the use of synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, ionizing radiation or pesticides.
The USDA has established a national standard for organic labelling that falls into three classifications:
- Must contain only organically produced ingredients. (The USDA seal may appear on the package.)
- : Must contain 95% minimum organically produced ingredients. Products cannot be produced using synthetic preservatives, petrochemicals, ionizing radiation or any other excluded methods. (The USDA seal may appear on the package.)
- : Contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. (The USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package.)
A not for profit organisation that governs pharmaceuticals, health care products, food supplements and personal hygiene products.The Association, located in Mannheim, Germany, has organized over 440 producers and distributors.
In order for products to be certified they must meet the following standards:
- Raw materials obtained from plants should be used from controlled biological cultivation or controlled biological wild collections
- No animal testing may be performed or commissioned when end products are manufactured, developed or tested. This includes the use of raw materials from dead vertebrates. (Raw materials that were not available on the market before 1998 may only be used if they have not been tested on animals)
- The use of inorganic salts and raw materials obtained from minerals is generally permitted, except for organic-synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, ethoxylated raw materials, silicones, paraffin and other petroleum products
- The restricted use of raw materials including fats, oils and waxes, lecithins, lanolin, proteins and lipoproteins
- Deliberate rejection of organic-synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, ethoxylated raw materials, silicones, paraffin and other petroleum products.
- To ensure that products are microbiologically safe, certain nature-identical preservatives are allowed in addition to natural preservatives.
- It is forbidden to disinfect organic raw materials and completed cosmetic products using radioactive radiation.
An international not-for profit association, NATRUE promote organic farming and suatainable productsion methods and campaign for the use of high quality organic ingredients in our beauty products.
All of the products certified by NATRUE meet the following strict criteria:
- No synthetic fragrances or colours
- No petroleum derived products (paraffins, PEG, -propyl-, -alkyl-, etc)
- No silicone oils or derivatives
- No genetically modified ingredients (complying with EC regulations)
- No irradiation of end products and botanical ingredients
- Products must not be tested on animals
As with the USDA, NATRUE have three levels of certification:
- NATURAL COSMETICS: The minimum levels of natural substances and the maximum levels of derived natural rawmaterials.
- NATURAL COSMETICS WITH AN ORGANIC PORTION: At least 70 % of the natural substances of plant and animal origin and of derived natural substances contained inthe product must come from controlled organic farming and/or fromcontrolled wild collection in line with the criteria laid down in the EC eco-regulations.
- ORGANIC COSMETICS: At least 95 % of the natural substances of plant and animal origin and ofderived natural substances contained inthe product must come from controlled organic farming and/or fromcontrolled wild collection in line with the criteria laid down in the EC eco-regulations.
This is just a few of the many certifying logos you may see on your products. From all this you can see it can be very confusing with all of the organisations requesting similar but more often than not, slightly differing standards. It would be great to think that one day natural and organic certification could be standardised and labelling could be the same anywhere in the world.