Many cosmetics are labelled with such terms as natural, organic, bio, herbal. But these are often just marketing terms used by companies to try to sell their products. You see the problem is that’s there no government regulations for the labelling of cosmetics. So cosmetic companies can use the terms as loosely as they like. And just because you see the words natural, organic, bio or herbal on a product, or if it’s used in a brand name, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the products actually contain natural and organic ingredients. This is known as greenwashing. So how do you know which brands you can really trust? And which products do, in fact, contain natural and organic ingredients? This is where natural and organic certifications come into play.
It’s scary how many so-called ‘high quality’ beauty companies are using terms like natural, organic, herbal and so on just to sell their products. I highly recommend you check out this excellent article by the wonderful Green Beauty Team. It contains a list of 22 companies who are guilty of greenwashing. And they’re basically tricking you into believing their products are green beauty products. The companies on this list are by no means the only ones doing this. But it’s just to give you an idea. You’ll be surprised by some of the names on there!
So how can I be sure that a product really is natural or organic?
The only way to be 100% certain is to check if they have natural or organic certifications. There are a number of highly respected certifying bodies that cosmetics brands can attain certification from. So if you see their logo on a product, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that the product is, in fact, natural and organic.
However, there are some really wonderful, very small, cosmetics companies who produce amazing natural and organic products. But they may not have natural and organic certifications on their products. This doesn’t mean you can’t trust their products. It’s just that may not have the resources or money to be able to afford certification just yet.
Bear in mind that large companies DO have the means and resources to attain natural and organic certifications. And theirs are the types of products to be very mindful of. If you see a product from a large company that claims to be natural, organic, herbal or otherwise, but that doesn’t have any natural or organic certifications, then it’s most likely NOT a natural or organic product.
Another way to make sure is to check the ingredients list. If the product contains any of the ingredients from this natural and organic beauty guide, then it’s absolutely NOT a natural or organic product. And if you want to be really certain, make sure to download this list of toxic ingredients to avoid in cosmetics. Keep it with you when you’re out shopping for products. It will make things a whole lot easier for you.
Basic Natural & Organic Certifications Requirements
Each certifying body has its own set of guidelines as to what they look for in order to certify a product as natural or organic. However, all of them have these few basic rules.
1. The products must not have been tested on animals (Some of those aforementioned ‘high quality’ brands don’t even adhere to this one!!).
2. Any ingredients derived from animals must have been achieved without harming the animal (eg: beeswax, honey).
3. They must meet a particular level of requirements when it comes to their packaging and their impact on the environment.
4. A thorough review of how the ingredients are grown and harvested.
5. The products must be completely free of any GM (genetically modified) ingredients.
Who decides if a product is certified natural or organic?
Below is a list of the top certifying bodies. Obtaining one of their natural or organic certifications is no easy task. So if you see one their logos on a product, you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s been rigorously tested and actually contains natural & organic ingredients.
The soil association is the certifying body in the U.K. If a beauty or food product has their logo on it, you can be certain that it’s either organic or made with organic ingredients. It’s one of the organic certifications that you’ll often see on some of the best quality natural and organic products. Products are labelled as ‘made with organic ingredients’ or ‘organic’ based on the following criteria.
Made with organic ingredients: the product contains at least 70% organically produced ingredients.
Organic: the product contains at least 95% organically produced ingredients.
This is an international non-profit organisation. And it’s one of the top natural and organic certifications a product can have. This is because they require all products to contain 100% certified pure natural ingredients. They have a 3 tier labelling system which is as follows.
Natural Cosmetics: the product contains 100% certified pure natural ingredients.
Natural Cosmetics with organic portion: At least 70% of the ingredients come from controlled organic production.
Organic Cosmetics: At least 95% of the ingredients come from controlled organic production.
The minimum requirement for products to get their certification is for them to contain ingredients that are at least of 95% natural origin. They do allow a maximum of 5% synthetic ingredients. Ecocert has 2 types of labelling.
Natural Standard: the products must contain a minimum of 50% plant-based ingredients and a minimum of 5% from organic farming.
Natural Organic Standard: the products must contain a minimum of 95% plant-based ingredients and a minimum of 10% from organic farming.
Although this certifying body doesn’t require any organic ingredients, do they require that products contain ingredients of 100% natural origin. Cosmetic companies whose products contain the BDIH seal use natural raw materials such as essential oils and plant oils in their products. These raw materials must come from controlled biological cultivation or wild collection. Natural preservatives are allowed in the products too.
This is basically a mixture of 5 of the top European certifying bodies. They are the Soil Association, BDIH, Ecocert as well as CosmeBio from France and ICEA from Italy. Cosmos stands for COSMetics Organic and Natural Standard and is a cosmetic standard for natural and organic ingredients. There are 2 labels by their standard. When you see their seal on a product it will show the seal of one of the 5 members with the words COSMOS Natural or COSMOS Organic underneath.
Cosmos Natural: these are products that contain certified natural ingredients or a few organic ingredients that haven’t met the minimum number to be certified organic.
Cosmos Organic: these products must contain at least 95% physically processed agro-ingredients that have been organically produced.
Products that have been certified by NOP are labelled as follows:
Made with Organic Ingredients: the product must contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients. However, it cannot display the USDA logo on its packaging.
Organic: the product must contain at least 95% organically produced ingredients.
100% Organic: the product must contain only organically produced ingredients.
This may seem like a lot for a product to have to go through. But I personally feel quite relieved and at ease knowing that a product has had to go through such rigorous testing. It means I can be safe in the knowledge that what I’m buying and putting on my skin is, in fact, natural & organic and that it truly does only contain good-for-my-skin ingredients.
Now that you know what to look for in cosmetics, perhaps you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy. If you’re looking for some ideas for some gorgeous products to buy, here are a few of my favourite natural and organic body products. And yes, there all have natural and organic certifications. 🙂 You’re now well on your way to a healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly beauty routine. xo