Pharmaceutical research into the component ingredients used in cosmetics by consumers reveal that it is important that we pay attention to what we put on our skin. This is because what we apply on our skin gets absorbed on a biological and molecular/cellular level.

When we purchase products – the kind or type we apply on our skin – should be (because we are worth it!) scrutinised in terms of three factors:

  • What ingredients are used
  • What are the toxicological and regulatory aspects
  • How are cosmetics regulated?

The more self-aware and savvy consumer are thus more inclined to choose the alternative products that are better for their long-term health. Comparing organic and natural skincare products with ‘normal’ – conventional, mass-produced artificial products, chemically produced.

What are green products?

Green products are skincare products that are considered more eco-friendly, good for the environment and generally closer to nature and the benefits natural sources can offer.

Different countries have different certificates which they can place on to cosmetic packaging to show that the ingredients used in them are “organic” or from natural origins.

In France, French cosmetics can be certified by a French certification agency ECOCERT, which can also be found in other countries such as Canada, Ecuador, India, Brazil, Columbia, Portugal, Japan and South Africa. French cosmetics that receive this grade of certification are ones that are derived from organic and natural cosmetics.

In Germany, the European Certification agency: Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie und Handels (BDIH).

In Europe, the Cosmetics Organic Standard – COSMO – is the equivalent certification in Europe on natural and organic cosmetics. Interestingly, however, for “natural” cosmetics, there is no legal requirement to include a minimum level of organic ingredients.

In the U. S., there have been 4 main categories, ways of labelling skincare products, that has been established. It may be conventional for you to see the following labels on skincare products:

100% organic
Made with organic ingredients
Less than 70% organic

In Italy, ICEA (Instituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale).

In the UK, the certification for natural and organic skincare products of the highest grade are given by the SOIL ASSOCIATION.

In Brazil, the certification agency for natural and organic skincare products is the Instituto Biodinamico de Certificacoes (IBD).

USEFUL FACT: According to the COSMOS-STANDARD, a product can only be deemed organic when at
least a total of 20% of the skincare product, labelled as “organic”, is proven to contain ingredients
from organic sources.

See our article on organic farming to understand the key differences between organic farming and products that come from that, and conventional farming practices that are non-organic.

What is the difference between organic and natural cosmetics?

Synthetic and/or semi-synthetic raw materials may not be used in organic and natural cosmetics, though there can be exceptions. The crucial difference is that a natural raw material used in skincare products are not necessarily organic.

What does the official certifications mean for my skincare products?

This means that as people who buy a heck of a lot of beauty products and things to make our skin more beautiful, we can

  • Ingredients
  • Processes
  • Production
  • Storage of raw materials
  • Packaging
  • Labelling
  • Use of energy resources and waste management
  • Waste management

All of these are rendered to be carefully managed and the ingredients used in products to be of a certain grade and quality (well, we sure hope so anyway!). The process that natural and organic raw materials and the way that they are monitored by these agencies for the quality of their ingredients and production processes. Raw materials which are (luckily!) banned include synthetic fragrances, dyes, silicones, synthetic preservatives, petroleum derivatives, diethanolamides, quaternary ammonium, polyethylene glycols.

In summary, the key dominant/major certification labels that can be found on organic and natural skincare are the following in each country:

  1. Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie and Handelsunternehmen (BDIH) in Germany
  2. National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA)
  3. In the United Kingdom (U. K.), the Social Association is the organic standard
  4. In Brazil, Instituto Biodinamico de Certificacoes (IBD)
  5. In France, the ECOCERT
  6. In Italy, the Istituto per la Certicazione Eticae Ambientale (ICEA)
  7. In the United States of America – Quality Assurance International (QAI).
  8. In the European Union (EU), the Cosmetics Organic Standard (Cosmos).

Did you know?

Within the European Union, the agency COSMOS makes strict restrictions in terms of what can be used within skincare or cosmetic products that is labelled as “organic” or “natural” in the processing of both raw and natural materials.

It is expected that natural materials are extracted using the safest and most efficient method that ensures the quality of the cosmetics skincare are not made inferior. As part of the testing process, usually a toxicology report/evaluation needs to be done on products, to see if these guidelines/criteria set by agencies are fulfilled. However, their guarantee in terms of stability, safety and efficiency are not guaranteed in the formulation of organic and natural cosmetics.