Organic Cosmetics Seals – How To Easily Recognize Certified Natural Cosmetics

Seals Overview of Natural and Organic Cosmetics

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Natural And Organic Cosmetics Seals - Overview

Our professional overview of organic and natural cosmetics seals explains the main criteria of the most known and trustworthy seals.

Seals for Natural and Organic cosmetics can be used to reliably recognize certified natural cosmetic products. Behind every seal of approval for natural & organic cosmetics stands the regular certification according to a recognized natural and organic cosmetics standard, carried out by an accredited certifying organization.

All company-independent natural cosmetics seals pursue similar goals.

  • The ingredients of certified natural cosmetics should be as organic as possible.
  • Controlled organic farming is particularly encouraged.
  • The entire manufacturing process must be environmentally friendly and sustainable.
  • Animal experiments are excluded. Only a few animal ingredients are allowed, that are well defined. In the production of a product, animals must not be harmed.
  • Compliance with the CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ) is one of the basic rules to which almost all standard providers also pay attention.
  • Following the latest trends, the observance of the principles of Green Chemistry is required for some natural and organic cosmetics seals.
  • Palm oil is only to be used if it has a RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certification.
  • The use of GMO or GMOs – genetically modified organisms – is not allowed with any seal.
  • Micro-plastics are not allowed.
  • The Packaging has to meet sustainable criteria and should be as minimalistic as possible.

The following overview shows the currently relevant seals for certified natural and organic cosmetics on the European market and explains their main criteria.

Seals of Natural and Organic Cosmetics Overview 2021
© COSMOS – Ecocert, BDIH, SOIL, ICEA, Cosmoebio, ACO, NATRUE, GfaW, Austria-Bio, USDA

COSMOS-Standard: the Seal for Certified Natural and Organic Cosmetics

The first seals in our overview of natural and organic cosmetic seals is the COSMOS standard for natural and organic cosmetics. It is developed by the 5 most important European certification companies in the organic and natural industry.

The standard that defines the criteria of the COSMOS seal was developed jointly by Ecocert and Cosmebio from France, the BDIH in Germany, ICEA in Italy and the SOIL Association in the UK over many years.

Since the beginning of 2017, all of these certifying organizations certify new products exclusively according to the COSMOS standard. The COSMOS natural and organic cosmetics seals are therefore made up of two components: the logo of the certifying organization who performs the inspection (Ecocert, BDIH, ICEA, Soil or Cosmebio) and the level of the COSMOS standard: “COSMOS-natural” for natural cosmetics or “COSMOS-organic” for organic cosmetics.
In addition to the 5 founding members, other certifying organizations have now been granted authorization for COSMOS certification, for example, ACO (Australian Certified Organic). 

COSMOS Organic Standard Seals
© COSMOS – Ecocert, BDIH, SOIL, ICEA, Cosmoebio, ACO

COSMOS-Organic: the Seal for Certified Organic Cosmetics

  • 95% organic: at least 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin must come from controlled organic farming. Any processing of these ingredients must be solely physical. Chemically processed ingredients are not counted here, even if they have a bio fraction (organic parts of molecules). Water and minerals are considered non-bio-certifiable.
  • 20% organic: at least 20% of the ingredients throughout the product must come from controlled organic farming.
  • 10% organic: at least 10% of the ingredients throughout the product must come from controlled organic farming. This rule applies to “rinse-off” products that are washed off after application, like shampoo or shower gel. Powders, aqueous or non-emulsified products are covered by this provision.
  • List of ingredients that must be used in organic certified quality.
Check out our COSMOS Organic certified brands in the B2B-Community: 
Havana Curls and Aurum Africa.
© COSMOS – Ecocert, BDIH, SOIL, ICEA, Cosmoebio, ACO

COSMOS-Natural: the Seal for Certified Natural Cosmetics

  • There is no minimum amount of organic ingredients required. All ingredients used, however, must comply with the requirements of the COSMOS standard. Their compliance must be checked.
  • Special feature: There should be no misleading reference to “Organic” on the front label of the product.

Further Specifications of the COSMOS Standard for Certified Natural and Organic Cosmetics:

  • GMO – genetically modified organisms – may not be used.
  • Some ingredients used must be of certified organic quality, such as sunflower oil, shea butter, argan oil, chamomile, honey, etc. (Cosmos Standard Appendix: VI) and ethyl alcohol (Appendix VII)
  • Maximum 2% ingredients with synthetic molecular proportions are allowed throughout the product.
  • Compliance with the principles of Green Chemistry and the CITES Convention must be ensured.
  • Packaging will be approved for sustainability.
  • There are requirements for certification information to appear on the product labels, such as which standard was certified by whom, the percentages by weight of organic ingredients in COSMOS organic, and the exact identification of the organic-ingredients in the ingredient information.
  • Animal testing is not allowed unless required by law. In Germany and the EU this is basically not the case, except for the addition of new chemical substances. Since these are usually of chemical-synthetic origin, they must not be used in natural cosmetics.
  • Palm oil must be RSPO certified.
  • Cleaning agents used before and after production for cleaning the production equipment must comply with COSMOS specifications.
  • An environmental management plan must exist and be managed, optimized and applied.

Check out our COSMOS Natural certified brands in the B2B-Community:
Anakena 

NCS Standard for Natural, Vegan and Organic Cosmetics
© Society for Applied Business Ethics GfaW

NCS Standard: Seal for Certified Natural and Organic Cosmetics, Vegan or with Checked Animal Ingredients

The Natural Cosmetics Standard of the Society for Applied Business Ethics GfaW. Certified by external authorized companies. The NC standard distinguishes four levels: natural cosmetics, natural vegan cosmetics, organic cosmetics and vegan organic cosmetics.

NCS Standard - Certified Natural Cosmetics

  • Only ingredients that meet the criteria of the NCs standard and have been tested are used. The highest possible natural origin is required.
  • There is no minimum amount of certified organic ingredients. Ingredients from certified organic cultivation may be listed.
  • List of ingredients that must be used in organic certified quality.

NCS Standard - Certified Vegan & Natural Cosmetics

  • No ingredients of animal origin may be used.
  • Only ingredients that meet the criteria of the NCs standard and have been tested are used. The highest possible natural origin is required.
  • There is no minimum amount of certified organic ingredients. Ingredients from certified organic cultivation may be listed.
  • List of ingredients that must be used in organic certified quality.

NCS Standard - Certified Organic Cosmetics

  • At least 95% organic: this means that 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin must come from certified organic farming and controlled wild-harvesting practices.
  • The packaging must show the percentage of organic matter in relation to total ingredients.

NCS Standard – Certified Vegan & Organic Cosmetics

  • At least 95% organic: this means that 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin must come from certified organic farming and wild-crafting practices.
  • No ingredients of animal origin may be used.
  • The packaging must show the percentage of organic matter in relation to total ingredients.

Further Rules of the NC Standard for Certified Natural Cosmetics:

  • The used packaging must be recyclable.
  • The use of GMO – genetically modified organisms – is not permitted.
  • Palm oil must be RSPO certified.
  • Animal experiments are not allowed.

This information and further details can be found on the website and the documents available there from the Society for Applied Business Ethics: https://gfaw.eu/ncs

Check out our NCS certified brands in the B2B-Community:
Lubana

NATRUE Standard: Seal for Certified Natural and Organic Cosmetics

The NATRUE standard for certified natural and organic cosmetics, wich was founded by European natural and organic cosmetics companies in the DACH-countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The founding members of NATRUE include Weleda, Dr. Hauschka, Logocos, Primavera and Laverana. The certification according to the NATRUE standard is carried out by various accredited certification companies. The NATRUE standard differentiates between the two levels from 2021 on: “natural cosmetics” and “organic cosmetics”. On the product labels, these two levels are no longer reported.

As of 01.01.2021, NATRUE new certified finished cosmetic products will be certified
either as “natural” or “organic”. Products already certified under the former  certification level “natural with organic portion” can still be identified as such in the market and in NATRUE’s database until the product’s certificate expires.

NATRUE - Certified Natural Cosmetics

  • The proportion of natural substances (physically processed ingredients of agricultural origin) must be between 0,1% and 80%. A maximum of 99% derived natural substances (chemically processed ingredients of agricultural origin) – may be used, depending on the product category.

NATRUE - Certified Organic Cosmetics

  • The proportion of natural substances (physically processed ingredients of agricultural origin) must be between 1% and 90%. A maximum of 99% derived natural substances (chemically processed ingredients of agricultural origin) – may be used, depending on the product category.
  • 95% of the natural and near-natural ingredients must be produced by controlled organic farming or must come from controlled wild harvesting.

Further Rules of the NATRUE Standard:

  • Sustainable packaging is sought, as well as environmentally friendly packaging management
  • No use of GMO – genetically modified organisms
  • Compliance with the principles of Green Chemistry and the principles of the CITES Convention
  • Palm oil must be at least RSPO certified.
  • Animal testing is not allowed

The information according which level of the NATRUE standard a product is certified usually cannot be seen at the product label.

Further details can be found on the website of NATRUE and the documents provided there: https://www.natrue.org

Check out our NATRUE certified Brand Oceanwell.

DEMETER Standard: the Seal for Demeter Cosmetics

The specifications for cosmetics and personal care products of the biodynamic cultivation association, demeter e.V., are regulated under point 8.12. of the product-specific processing guidelines. Cosmetic products can be certified by external authorized companies according the Demeter Standard.

Demeter Natural and Organic Cosmetics

  • At least 90% of the ingredients of agricultural origin and the eponymous ingredient of the product must come from demeter cultivation.
  • Less than 90% and at least 66% of the ingredients and eponymous ingredient of the product have demeter quality.
  • The organic or demeter origin of each ingredient must be identified on the product.
Demeter Organic Cosmetics Seal
© Demeter

Further rules of the Demeter Standard:

  • Preference is given to ingredients that have undergone a rhythmic procession.
  • Electromagnetic fields during processing must be avoided.
  • Negative effects of processing must be kept to a minimum: reduction of waste, energy consumption, wastewater.
  • Packaging materials must comply with the Demeter Directive.
  • Experiments on animals are prohibited.

This information and further details can be found on the website and the documents of the Demeter Association available there: https://www.demeter.de/lebensmittel-produkte/naturkosmetik 

AUSTRIA-Bio Biocosmetics: the Seal for Organic Cosmetics

Austria Bio Organic Cosmetics Seal
© Austria Bio

Austria Organic Certified Organic Cosmetics:

Austria defined an official framework for organic cosmetics. The Biological Production Directive (RL_0003_3) regulates the requirements for organic cosmetics in paragraph 6. The certification is conducted by Austria-Bio-Garantie. The requirements for natural cosmetics are defined in the food book section on cosmetic products. This certification is conducted by AgroVet.

  • At least 95% organic: this means that 95% of the ingredients of agricultural origin must come from certified organic farming.
  • At least 20% organic in the total product: this means that 20% of the ingredients of agricultural origin in the whole product must come from controlled organic farming.
  • Compliance with the principles of the CITES Convention
  • The use of genetically modified organisms – GMOs – is not allowed.

This information and further details can be found, for example, on the website and the documents available from the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety GmbH: https://www.ages.at/themen/kosmetik/spezifische-themen/bio-und-naturkosmetik/tab/2/

Check out our Austria Bio certified brands in the B2B-Community:
Des Olive

USDA-Organic Cosmetics

The USDA Standard is found on products all over the world and as such part of the Natural and Organic Cosmetics seals overview.
In the National Organic Program-NOP of the USA, the specifications for organic cosmetics are defined in the section on cosmetics and personal care products. If cosmetic products meet the USDA / NOP organic cultivation, processing, handling and labelling guidelines, they can be certified organic. For the claim to be valid the same levels apply as for all other agricultural products.

USDA - 100% Organic

  • The product must contain 100% certified organic ingredients, excluding water and salts. In addition to the organic seal, the certifying body must be provided, with its name and address.

USDA - Organic

  • The product must contain at least 95% certified organic ingredients, excluding water and salts. The remaining ingredients must meet the requirements of the standard. In addition to the organic label, the certifying organization must be indicated, including name and address.

USDA - made with Organic Ingredients

  • The product must contain at least 70% of organically grown ingredients, excluding water and salts. The product name may also contain 3 bio-ingredients. The remaining ingredients must comply with the requirements of the standard. The USDA Bio-Seal must not be used. The name and address of the certifying organization must be provided.
USDA Organic Seal
© USDA

This information and further details can be found on the website and the USDA documents available there: https://www.usda.gov/topics/organic

What makes a Natural and Organic Cosmetics Standard?

In our internationally and digitally connected world, the certification of natural and organic cosmetics guarantees that all the specifications defined in a natural and organic cosmetics standard are complied with by the certified brand. In  our overview of natural and organic cosmetic seals we introduced you to the most known and trustworthy standards.

Only then their products can earn the corresponding natural or organic cosmetics seal. A serious natural cosmetics standard is publicly available at any time. Its compliance is confirmed by ongoing controls in all companies involved in the manufacturing process. Optimally, this happens every year – as required by ISO standard 17065 for certifying organizations and companies.

Since service providers such as contract manufacturers do not bring their own products to the market, they receive confirmation that their performance complies with the respective standard.

A certified natural and organic cosmetics seal ensures that a product has truly fulfilled the natural characteristics promised by its packaging. Greenwashing is not possible with certified natural and organic cosmetics.

You would like to get your cosmetics or service certified as compliant to a natural and organic cosmetics standard? Check out our starting guide: 

The 3 most important points to consider before starting your Natural & Organic Cosmetics Certification

Do you have any questions? Could you use some support in preparing for certification or setting up your certification process? Please feel free to book an appointment here and let’s talk about it.

Get your handy Natural & Organic Cosmetics Seals guide with our short overview about the main seal criteria

Your professional Guide on trustworthy Natural and Organic Cosmetics Seals!
Created by Elke Hockauf, Founder of Authentic Eco, Expert in Natural & Organic Cosmetics Certification – Regularly updated, as of 01/2021

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Natural and Organic Cosmetics Seals Overview 2021
Photocredits: thanks to Raphaël Menesclou , fleur kaan ,Juliette F,  The New York Public Library, Michal VrbaJoran QuintenSyed Ali on Unsplash

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