Label for Sustainability, Natural and Organic Cosmetics and Natural Products

Siegel für Nachhaltigkeit, Naturkosmetik und Naturprodukte
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Sustainability along with the Highest Possible Naturalness are becoming Verifiable and Visible

[In cooperation with GfaW] Sustainable management can be defined, measured and checked. GfaW, the Society for Applied Business Ethics, is fully committed to this goal. With its certification of corporate sustainability, GfaW has become a pioneer in the green economy of the common good. The uniqueness of the three offered certifications is their underlying holistic view of sustainability.

Since Authentic Eco focuses on certified natural and organic cosmetics, our starting point will be the interview with the GfaW founder about her natural cosmetics certification NCS, the Natural Cosmetics Standard label.

Interview with Sophie von Lilienfeld-Toal on Natural and Organic Cosmetics Certification

What was your motivation to to found the NCS natural cosmetic label? How long has your label been in existence and what values do you associate with it?

The advantage of the NCS (Natural Cosmetics Standard) certification towards other certifications lies in its combination of a natural cosmetics certificate and independence. This means that it can be flexibly implemented for both large and small companies. The separation of the certification body and the standard provider was also a novelty when the label was founded in 2012. The meaningful naming for the consumer was another claim to our label.

In your opinion, what are the most important criteria of your natural cosmetic standard?

NCS offers four certification levels:

  • Natural Cosmetics
  • Vegan Natural Cosmetics
  • Organic Cosmetics
  • And vegan Organic Cosmetics

All vegetable and animal sourced raw materials must be of natural origin. Non-natural substances are only tolerated for individual preservatives, pigments, minerals and vitamins; some natural substances must come from certified organic cultivation; refraining from usage critical substances such as palm oil; if these are unavoidable, they must come only from sustainable sources. Packaging must be recyclable.

Are there any requirements of your natural cosmetic label that you would like to be more publically focused on?

Yes, these are the 4 natural cosmetic qualities, the organic obligation for some natural products, recyclable packaging and the call for more sustainability from the standard provider. Regular meetings in a working group ensure that the standard is based on best practice examples without losing sight of the practicality. The standard is also publicly available and the standard provider is easy to contact.

What is the advantage for natural cosmetics users to buy certified natural cosmetic products?

Using natural cosmetics is a first step towards sustainable living. Natural cosmetic products only make a small contribution to environmental protection, but every little action is at least a start. Certification of natural cosmetics gives users the security of knowing that they are buying a product that consists of ingredients that are as natural as possible. However, this certification says nothing about resource consumption, CO2 emissions, human rights or other sustainability aspects. Therefore, users should understand the natural cosmetics certification only as a first indication of sustainability. If no other sustainability label, such as CSE, is used, further research on the desired brand / product / manufacture, etc. is necessary.

What are your hopes for the future?

That both users and manufacturers do not stop at the level of ingredients when evaluating the naturalness of a product, when evaluating the naturalness of a product; they should also include production process qualities in their decisions. This also means that social and economic aspects should be included in decisions. We hope that the market in sustainability communication will not get stuck on the topic of “ecological” and that the wishes of critical consumers for more information about the product and the company will be taken up. This also means increasing information and transparency through associations, politics and the companies themselves.

Sophie v. Lilienfeld-Toal is the founder and managing director of the GfaW Society for Applied Business Ethics mbH.

The GfaW Standards: Certified Sustainability in Companies and Naturalness of Products

The heart of the certifications offered by GfaW is the CSE label “Certified Sustainable Economics” for sustainable working companies. It is a combination of management, company and product certification. This means that the entire company and its products are viewed and checked for sustainability. The NCS seals for natural cosmetics and NCP for natural products refer specifically to the highest possible naturalness of the products. All three GfaW labels are registered as international brands.

Following, I present the individual certifications and give an overview of their requirements.

NCS - the Natural Cosmetics Standard
NCS – the Natural Cosmetics Standard


NCS – the Natural Cosmetics Standard

The GfaW NCS label for certified natural cosmetics distinguishes four levels: natural cosmetics, vegan natural cosmetics, organic cosmetics and vegan organic cosmetics. A prerequisite for receiving the label is that at least 60% of all products of a brand are or have been certified.

The following guidelines apply to both natural cosmetics and organic cosmetics certification:

  • Natural and organic cosmetics certified according to the NCS standard may only contain ingredients that meet the NCS criteria and have been tested.
  • Some ingredients used have to be of organic quality, for example shea butter and the oils of sunflowers, olives, soybeans, coconut and jojoba wax.
  • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), parabens, silicones, PEGs, phthalates and microplastics are not permitted in the products.
  • Palm oil may only be used if it is certified according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RPSO).
  • Only natural fragrances and herbal extracts may be used.
  • Irradiated substances are taboo.
  • In addition, the packaging of certified natural cosmetics must be recyclable.
  • Animal and vegetable raw materials of endangered species may only come from live animals from animal welfare or from organic cultivation appropriate to the species.
  • Animal experiments are not allowed.

Currently, over 1000 products from 79 natural cosmetic brands bear the NCS natural cosmetic seal.


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© GfaW – NC Standard für zertifizierte Naturkosmetik


NCS label for certified natural cosmetics, classic or vegan

Natural cosmetics certified according to the NCS standard do not need to contain a minimum amount of organic ingredients. However, it is important to note a list of ingredients that may only be used in organic quality.

If the certified natural cosmetics are to be labeled as vegan, no ingredients of animal origin may be used.

NCS label for certified organic cosmetics, classic or vegan

At NCS Certified Organic Cosmetics, at least 95% of the bio-certifiable ingredients must be organically farmed. The packaging must indicate what percentage of the total ingredients come from organic farming.

Vegan, NCS certified organic cosmetics contain no animal ingredients.

NCP - the Natural Products Standard
NCP – the Natural Products Standard


NCP – the Natural Products Standard for natural products, classic or vegan

The NCP label recognizes everyday products that consist of the most natural possible materials and do not pollute the environment unnecessarily. The standard for environmentally friendly product alternatives is used for non-food products such as toys, tools, household items, hygiene products, cleansers and detergents, fertilizers and care products like furniture polish.

  • Natural products certified according to the NCP standard may only contain ingredients that come from natural, plant or animal origin and have been tested.
  • Genetically modified organisms, synthetic silicones and surfactants, as well as microplastics, are not permitted in the products.
  • Palm oil may only be used if it is certified according to RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).
  • The products must not pose a health or environmental hazard.
  • Irradiated substances are taboo.
  • In addition, the packaging must be recyclable or reusable.
  • Animal testing is not allowed (except as required by law).
CSE - the Certified Sustainable Economics Standard for Corporate Sustainability
CSE – the label for Sustainable Economics Standard for Corporate Sustainability


CSE – the Certified Sustainable Economics Standard for Corporate Sustainability

The CSE standard defines the concept of holistically considered sustainability in relation to a company’s way of working and its products. It sets the standard for how sustainability should be implemented.

Companies certified according to the CSE standard:

  • Have an integrated environmental management system.
  • Comply with strict ecological product standards.
  • Prefer fair trade raw materials and maintain long-term supplier relationships that are not purely based on price advantages.
  • Use electricity from 100% renewable energies.
  • Use green IT and recycled paper.
  • Pay equal wages to men and women and offer family-friendly working conditions.
  • Observe ethical capital flows and reinvest in sustainability and solidarity.

CSE-STAR – the New Management Tool for Corporate Sustainability

With the CSE-STAR, the “Sustainability Tool for Assessment and Reporting”, the GfaW has developed cutting-edge software for corporate sustainability management. The STAR supports companies in collecting, measuring and evaluating their sustainability performance. The CSE certification is prepared and carried out with the STAR. It is also used to prepare sustainability reports. STAR also facilitates the introduction of the environmental management system according to ISO 14001: 2015.

CSE-STAR -Sustainability Tool for Assessment and Reporting
CSE-STAR -Sustainability Tool for Assessment and Reporting


GfaW – the Society for Applied Business Ethics

Ethics in Everyday Business Life? The GfaW Says: Absolutely!

GfaW drives the knowledge that we urgently need new survival strategies. Our everyday life is still characterized by the pursuit of growth and profit. The price we pay for it is only gradually coming to the minds of most people. The solution for GfaW is a redefined and implemented economy of common good.

The GfaW has demonstrated, with increasing success, that such a change is feasible. It provides the impetus and support for profound, economic changes. At the same time, it motivates all actors from society, business and science to become active and work together.

” Goodprints for an Authentic Economy “: What Makes the Label of the GfaW so Special?

GfaW’s eye-catching feature is its holistic approach to defining sustainability. Another special feature is the close cooperation with working groups of experts and customers in the creation and further development of the standards. In this way, the latest developments and technologies are linked very flexibly with practical questions.

For example, GfaW is the only standard provider to offer certified natural and organic cosmetics as vegan in a single label. For customers and business partners, the CSE, NCS and NCP labels are a guarantee in pictures, shortcodes, so to speak, for sustainability and naturalness. This makes it easy to make a consciously sustainable decision to buy or to collaborate.

GfaW ensures the quality of its certifications by continuously exchanging information with its certification companies. The training of its auditors is regularly updated. The audits take place once a year on site at the companies to be audited. Complaint management is implemented for certification bodies in accordance with ISO 17065.

The Society for Applied Business Ethics is, of course, setting a good example itself. Since February 2019, it has been CSE certified according to its own standard. (2019-02-06 CSE_GfaW – Version 1-1) The current sustainability goals are the introduction of a system to meet their travel guidelines, the introduction of ISO 14001 and social-ecological accounting.

Die Gesellschaft für angewandte Wirtschaftsethik geht natürlich selbst mit gutem Beispiel voran. Seit Februar 2019 ist sie nach dem eigenen Standard CSE-zertifiziert. (2019-02-06 CSE_GfaW – Version 1-1) Die aktuellen Nachhaltigkeitsziele sind die Einführung eines Systems zur Erfüllung ihrer Reiserichtlinie, der Einführung der ISO 14001 und einer sozial-ökologischen Rechnungslegung.

GfaW Gesellschaft für angewandte Wirtschaftsethik mbH - the team
Das Team der GfaW


The Vision of Connecting Ethics, Economy and Sustainability

The People behind GfaW: They Live Their Idea of Sustainability

The entire GfaW team is united in the question of how a sustainable future can be realized through sustainable economics. The principle “The economy is there for people and not the other way around” is everyday life here.

Sophie von Lilienfeld-Toal founded the GfaW in 2012. She is supported by Prof. Dr. Hermann von Lilienfeld-Toal as a partner. Niels Christiansen advises and is responsible for product development. Marketing is in the hands of Paulina Oerter. She manages public relations together with Martin Henkemeier. He sums up what the GfaW team is all about: “Idealists are selflessly and consistently committed to what I believe to be the most important goal of our time, for sustainability”. GfaW is a member of the association “Unternehmesgrün“, “Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie“, “Perspective Daily” und “Entrepreneurs for future“.


GfaW Gesellschaft für angewandte Wirtschaftsethik mbH
Am Hopfenberge 1
37124 Rosdorf
Mail: info[at] Webseite:

Sophie von Lilienfeld-Toal
Fon: +49 (0)551 30674834

Please find an overview of the requirements of the different levels of the individual labels here: Organic Cosmetics Labels – How To Easily Recognise Certified Natural Cosmetics

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.

Photocredits: Fotomaterial der Gfaw und David Vig on Unsplash, Christopher Campbell on Unsplash, Dylan Alcock on Unsplash, Ben White on Unsplash

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