Organic skincare certification for personal care items can be confusing. The process is similar to that of the organic food industry, but unlike the certifications for organic food, organic skincare is not government regulated nor is there global harmonization. An understanding of the different types certifications and rules makes your choice as a consumer easier.
How does certification work?
Each certifying body creates a set of guidelines that a product and manufacturer must meet in order to be certified natural and /or organic.
These rules will define requirements such as:
- The minimum percentage of organic content required within a product
- The percentage of synthetic ingredients acceptable under certification
- Ingredients that are excluded from use in products
- The manufacturing processes which can be used in the creation of ingredients and the end product
- Whether water can or cannot be included in the calculation for the organic percentage of the product
Part of the requirements also include the regular auditing by a third-party organic certifier of both the manufacturers ingredients and processes to ensure it is compliant with all the rules of the certification standard.
There are a few general guidelines which apply to most certifications such as
- No animal testing
- No ingredients derived from an animal unless produced without harm to the animal eg honey and beeswax
- Avoidance of GM ingredients
- Consideration for how the ingredients are grown and harvested
- Environmentally friendly packaging requirements
Today there are a number of international organizations with organic skincare certification standards. Below, we have compiled summaries of the six most commonly seen on the shelves.
Labels: Soil Association Organic includes the ‘Made with Organic ingredients' Label
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Business Type: Non-Profit
The Soil Association is a standard for 'organic' and 'made with organic' ingredients. Limited amounts of synthetic preservatives and ingredients are allowed, for example benzyl alcohol, dehydroacetic acid and phenoxyethanol. Excludes water in calculation of organic content.
- Organic - must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients.
- Made with Organic Ingredients - must contain at least 70% organic ingredients.
USDA NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM
Labels: USDA 100% Organic, USDA Organic and USDA Made with Organic
Country of Origin: USA
Business Type: Government
USDA NOP is a food standard with three certification variations. Limited amounts of synthetics are allowed in 'organic' and 'made with organic'. Excludes water and salt in calculation of organic content.
- 100% Organic - must contain only organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt).
- Organic - must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Limited amounts of synthetics are allowed.
- Made with Organic Ingredients must contain at least 70% organic ingredients, but cannot display the USDA seal on packaging.
Labels: NATRUE Natural, NATRUE Natural with Organic Portion and NATRUE Organic
Country of Origin: Brussels, International
Business Type: Non-Profit
NATRUE is a cosmetic standard that requires 100 percent certified pure natural and derived natural (natural origin) plus some limited nature-identical* as a baseline for entry. Excludes water and salt in calculation of natural and organic content. 3 star system.
- Organic Cosmetics (3 stars) - guarantees at least 95% of the natural ingredients stem from controlled organic production.
- Natural with organic portion (2 stars) - guarantees at least 70% of the natural ingredients stem from organic production.
- Natural Cosmetics (1 star) - requires 100 percent certified pure natural and derived natural (natural origin) plus some limited nature-identical*
Labels: EcoCert Natural and EcoCert Natural and Organic
Country of Origin: France
Business Type: Profit
EcoCert requires a minimum of 95 percent natural origin as a baseline entry. Water can be included in its calculation of organic content. Up to 5% of synthetic preservatives are allowed eg. Dehydroacetic acid and Sodium hydroxide.
- Natural standard - A minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.
- Natural / Organic standard A minimum of 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.
Labels: BDIH Natural. No certification for Organic
Country of Origin: Germany
Business Type: Profit. Membership required.
BDIH requires 100 percent natural origin/nature identical* to gain the "natural" standard. No organic content is required for certification but BDIH requires manufacturers to use organic content wherever possible. Nature Identical preservatives such as benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid can be used along with natural preservatives.
Labels: COSMOS Organic and COSMOS Natural
Country of Origin: Brussels / Europe
Business Type: Non-Profit
COSMOS is the first European Harmonized Standard for organic beauty created by the first five EU organic beauty certifiers - BDIH, Soil Association, CosmeBio, EcoCert and ICEA. COSMOS is a cosmetic standard for organic and natural ingredients. Limited synthetics are allowed in the "Organic" and "Natural" standard for some product types. Excludes minerals in calculation of organic content. Logo is as the five certifiers with the addition of the COSMOS stamp.
- COSMOS Organic - must contain at least 95% physically processed agro-ingredients must be organically produced, while a minimum of 20% of total ingredients by weight must be organic with exception for wash off products which is 10%.
- COSMOS Natural - may contain natural/ organic ingredients, but does not allow active marketing of organic content.
*Nature identical substances may only be used when natural substances cannot be recovered from nature using reasonable technical effort. Nature identical ingredients are 100 percent identical in composition to their counterparts in nature, but have been created in the laboratory to ensure stability, safety, and sustainability.