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

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

A natural and organic cosmetics certification conducted by an independent third party confirms the quality of your products or services. With a certification you communicate that your products are manufactured according to a clearly defined and publicly available natural and organic cosmetics standard and are checked on a regularly basis. Your natural or organic cosmetics label helps business partners and customers immediately recognise which guidelines you are pursuing. A natural and organic cosmetics certification also opens for you the doors within the industry. A certification is your way to build trust to your brand, showcase your commitment and sustainable management, thus ruling out the suspicion of greenwashing right from the beginning.

The natural and organic cosmetics certification relates to different business areas. Natural and organic cosmetics users are particularly familiar with the finished products’ certification. However, awarding the ready-to-sell natural cosmetic product with a label is only the last step in a long chain of traceable checkpoints within every natural or organic cosmetic certification. Only manufacturers and brand owners can receive such a natural & organic cosmetic certificate for their products.

Contracted manufacturers or providers of raw material processing or filling services, on the other hand, can achieve a statement for their natural & organic cosmetics certification service conformity. This document of conformity authorises them to offer services that meet a natural cosmetics standard.

Raw material suppliers can also receive a certificate for ingredients that meet the requirements of a natural & organic cosmetics standard. According to the COSMOS standard, ingredients with organic components receive the certificate “COSMOS certified”. Ingredients without organic components can get a certificate of conformity with the “COSMOS approved” label. NATRUE provides a certification for all tested and compliant ingredients as well.

Finding the right fit of the natural & organic cosmetics certification, depends on answering the following three questions before the decision.

How to start your Certification of Natural & Organic Cosmetics

1) Choose the Natural and Organic Cosmetics Label that fits Your Products or Services and Your Corporate Mission Statement

Your mission statement, your values and goals as a brand are the basis for your entire company appearance. At the same time, they are an important point of orientation when choosing your natural & organic cosmetics label.

A) What is your brand mission statement?

What do you your brand be standing for? Should it be natural cosmetics, organic cosmetics or biodynamically produced demeter cosmetics? What is of particular importance to? What strengths should your products represent?

B) What is your target market?

In which regions do you want to be active? Where do you want to address your customers? Is your focus in the regional environment? Would you like to be active in the entire German-speaking area? Or are you planning to offer your products, raw materials or services across Europe or internationally?

C) Who is your dream customer?

In marketing jargon it is called customer avatar: the virtual sample customer. It might make sense to develop up to four different customer avatars. Create your desired customer as a very specific person: with name, age, profession, income, preferences, attitudes, wishes, problems and goals. What does he wish for, what does he dream of, what does he have to do every day? If you have described your target group in a concrete and lifelike manner, it will be much easier for you to choose the right natural & organic cosmetics certification.

Examples of the selection of natural & organic cosmetics labels

The combination of the brand concept, target market and customer avatar is your compass when checking the requirements of the various natural cosmetic labels and ultimately when choosing your natural & organic cosmetic standard.

Following are some examples of what an orientation can look like when making a selection.

International Natural & Organic Cosmetics Certifications

Would you like to address natural cosmetics or organic cosmetics customers both regionally and internationally? Then the two, recent, best-known international natural and organic cosmetics standards are COSMOS and NATRUE.

The label of the COSMOS Association, founded by the five largest European organic certifiers, is recognised worldwide. Depending on which regional relevance important to you, you can choose a certifier that is known in this region. Its logo will later appear on your products together with the logo of the COSMOS certification level “Natural” for natural cosmetics or “Organic” for organic cosmetics. The BDIH is located in Germany; in France it is Cosmebio and Ecocert. Ecocert is also known as the largest organic raw material certifier in all of Europe, Eastern Europe, as well as in the entire American and Asian area. The Soil Association, on the other hand, has made a name for itself in the British catchment area. The Italian certifier ICEA is well represented in Southern and Eastern Europe with its logo.

The major German natural cosmetics companies Laverana, Weleda, Dr. Hauschka, Dalli-Werke and Primavera founded the international NATRUE organization. The most important regional reference is in the German-speaking area. Due to the presence of the German and European natural cosmetics giants on the international market, the level of awareness of NATRUE also extends around the world.

Natural & organic cosmetics certifications in Europe and special regions

If your target market is in the German-speaking and EU area, then the NCS (Natural Cosmetics Standard) label of the Society for Applied Business Ethics could be the right choice. This natural cosmetic label is establishing itself more and more and is also expanding its presence on the international market.

Are your dream customers and your target market in and around Austria? Then the Austrian governemental organic cosmetics certification is a very good option for you.

Biodynamic agriculture is particularly important to you? In addition to food certification, the Demeter Association also offers Demeter cosmetics certification.

If you would like to operate as a brand in the area of health food stores (called Reform), then the criteria of the internal reform natural cosmetics label, guided by COSMOS and NATRUE criteria, could be just the thing for you.

The manufacturers' association ICADA also offers natural cosmetics certification, primarily in Germany.

If you now add your company values and your customer avatar to the selection of the target market, a first picture quickly emerges.

Certification of Natural & Organic Cosmetics

2) Partner matching: the be-all and end-all for a long-term effective process of your natural cosmetic certification

The selection of your natural & organic cosmetic standard is inextricably linked to the selection of your business partners. Do you develop a brand and have your products produced by a contract manufacturer? Then both of you must be certified according the same natural & organic cosmetics standard. You can save a lot of costs and great effort if you clarify this question before making your own decision for a natural cosmetic label. If you choose a contract manufacturer whose service has already been confirmed according to a natural & organic cosmetics standard, you should also opt for this standard if possible.
If a business partner is not certified or is certified according to another natural & organic cosmetic standard, a new certification – in line with your desired standard – will be essential. Only then can a cooperation in the production of certified natural cosmetic products be realised. Although this is feasible, it means additional effort and additional costs. If in doubt, you might the the one paying the costs for the certification of your contract manufacturer or service provider.

The selection of your raw materials is another aspect that you should take into account when planning for natural & organic cosmetics certification. The internationally known organic certificates of raw materials are generally recognised by the certifiers. Many organic raw materials have already been certified according to COSMOS or NATRUE criteria. By planning to choose ingredients that meet the desired standard from the start, you save time and money for new raw material checkings.

Your packaging material is also checked for sustainability and recycleability. Some packaging suppliers are known for their compliant packaging. The natural & organic cosmetics standards provide guidelines on how standard-compliant packaging must look.

Important to know: The certifiers must not give you any direct recommendations on business partners, raw materials, sources of supply, etc. Their accreditation as a certifier precludes advice.

3) Budget planning for the framework of your natural & organic cosmetics certification

When planning the budget for your natural & organic cosmetics certification, it pays off in the long term to take time and personnel expenses into account, in addition to planning the finances.

Calculation of finances

The costs of your natural cosmetic certification are made up of:

  • license fees from the developer of the natural & organic cosmetic standard (standard provider)
  • the costs of carrying out your certification at the authorising body (certifier).

There are two fundamentally different models for the distribution of costs. With the COSMOS standard you only have one contract partner. The certifier calculates its certification costs and at the same time the license fees for the use of the COSMOS standard. If you opt for the NATRUE or NCS label, then first conclude a license agreement with the standard provider (NATRUE or GfaW for the NCS label). Then you choose a certifier who conducts the certification process according to this natural & organic cosmetics standard and concludes a contract with you to carry out the certification.

The costs of carrying out the certification are divided into costs for document verification, which are incurred according to expenditure. Documents are checked if they are new or there have been changes. In addition, there are the regular costs for the annual on-site audit, evaluation and certification.

In order to have a suitable basis for cost calculation, you need a cost estimate that is precisely tailored to your activity and business organization. Costs can be vary, so I would not suggest trusting an estimation. You can request quotations from any standard and any certifier without obligation. When making an inquiry, you will be asked for various details of your business. The more precise you are with the information you provide, the more precise your estimate will be and the better you will be able to plan.

Calculation of time

When it comes to the question of time, the earlier you plan your natural & organic cosmetic certification, the better. Experience has shown that, at best, it takes at least six months (with luck) and up to one year from the start of the certification process to receiving the certificate. If the natural & organic cosmetics certification runs once, you should allow time to meet the regular requirements and to prepare and carry out the audit.

Calculation of personnel expenses

The basis for the lowest possible personnel expenditure in the ongoing natural cosmetics certification is a well-coordinated workflow for compliance with the requirements in the warehouse, production, marketing, and for the necessary documentation. The better these processes are coordinated and integrated into everyday work, the less personnel and time they will take. If there are gaps or capacity problems, this will be revealed at the latest during the audit.

In the long run it pays off to plan enough resources for setting up the certification process and developing the resulting workflow when you start the natural & organic cosmetics certification. In this way, you can avoid overwhelmed employees shortly before the upcoming audit, broken schedules, non-compliance with requirements and the resulting restrictions.

Find the right business partners for your Certification of Natural & Organic Cosmetics

Get started now: be well prepared for your own natural cosmetics certification

Have you already considered natural & organic cosmetics certification? Then it makes sense to start clarifying the basics and choosing the right natural cosmetic label for you in a timely manner. Considering the criteria of the desired natural cosmetics standard at the beginning of planning certified cosmetics can make brand development considerably easier. As soon as you start raw material procurement and formula creation, it is helpful to already have a working relationship with the chosen certifier. The preparation of the certification process is also possible based on the criteria defined in the natural & organic cosmetic standards, but the final validation of the raw materials and recipes is in the hands of the specially trained certification managers.

Here you can download the guide to the best known natural & organic cosmetics standards and sign up to stay up to date with my Authentic Eco News:
”Natural & Organic Cosmetics Label Guide”

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.

About the author

Elke Hockauf

M.A., MBA – Organic Cosmetics Expert

I show natural & organic cosmetics companies how they can be certified efficiently and build visibility and reach as a certified natural cosmetics brand.

Please feel free to get in touch with me!