La realidad sobre las certificaciones de calidad en cosmética natural.

The reality about quality certifications in natural cosmetics.

The Cosmetic products , whether organic, natural or conventional, are regulated by Royal Decree 85/2018, by Regulation (CE) No. 1223/2009 and by Regulation (CE) No. 655/2013. That is to say, There is no official standard for cosmetic products made from ingredients of natural origin and with an organic certificate , as is the case with organically produced foods.

Therefore, to differentiate that we are facing a organic or natural cosmetic, a private certifier must be used so that the company obtains the seal of organic or natural cosmetics after undergoing a certain procedure required by the certifier.

cosmetic brands They are not required to have any seal , they submit to certification voluntarily to ensure that it is a product of sustainable, natural production and respectful of our health and that of the environment.

Certifications in cosmetics are a way of trying to give consumers confidence and, in turn, allow manufacturers to differentiate their organic or natural products from the rest of those on the market that are not. It is about guaranteeing that what we buy is really natural and ecological and not pure "greenwhasing" or "ecological deception", so used in the cosmetics sector.

Certification of a cosmetic product

Before delving into the certification of cosmetic products, it is necessary to clarify the difference between certifiers, regulations and seals:

  • Certifiers : bodies that give a written guarantee that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements.
  • Norm or standard : requirements and regulations of a certifier that any product, process or service must meet to obtain certification.
  • Seals : image printed on a product that certifies that it meets the requirements established by the certifier.

Most cosmetic certifiers were initially dedicated to environmental certifications . Therefore, to give rise to a specific standard for cosmetic products, they had a committee of experts in cosmetics and/or manufacturers in the sector.

Certification process of a cosmetic product

When a manufacturer of natural or organic cosmetics wants to obtain a seal to indicate it on their product, they must follow a procedure that will vary from one certifier to another. As a guide, the general guidelines for obtaining it would be the following:

  1. Choice of certifier with which she feels most identified and best suits her needs.
  2. Sending the documentation by the certifier. The manufacturer returns it completed and pays the corresponding fees for the certification process of its products to begin (they do not have to be all the products but those that the company wishes to certify).
  3. Documentation Review by the certifier: it is verified that everything seems to comply with the standard; It is agreed with the company to carry out an inspection of its facilities and everything that is necessary is reviewed to confirm that the manufacturer of the cosmetics is producing it following the requirements specified in the certifier's regulations.
  4. Inspector's report : once the inspection is finished and having all the necessary documents, the inspector issues a report and sends it for review to verify that everything is correct. It is about evaluating the work of the inspector by a third party.
  5. Analysis of the cosmetic product : if necessary, analysis of the samples taken is carried out. The analysis is a complement to everything else and is not mandatory to obtain the certification, since with the delivery of reports the origin and processing of the ingredients is accredited.
  6. Commission : if everything is correct, it goes to a commission that approves the certification. The certification body in question issues the certificate in which it appears that the cosmetic company has "x" products certified as organic and/or natural according to the standard. The validity of the certificate is annual.
  7. Renewal : after one year the producer goes through an inspection again to renew this certificate.

Why choose certified cosmetics?

As there are various certifiers in different countries and with their own regulations, we find some differences from one to the other. Despite this, they all agree on some basic principles of good practice that are committed to sustainable development:

  • Be transparent with the consumer using understandable terminology.
  • promote the ecological agriculture promoting a link between cosmetics and the production of plant raw materials that respect biodiversity.
  • encourage the transformation processes of less harmful ingredients for the environment avoiding the use of techniques as polluting as ethoxylation.
  • implement a waste management system as well as an environmentally friendly cleaning and disinfection plan.
  • Ban the use of synthetic ingredients derived from the petrochemical industry, hormone disruptors, nanoparticles, genetically modified organisms, etc.
  • Animal welfare: It is never allowed to test products on animals and, in the case of including ingredients of animal origin (honey, beeswax or donkey milk, among others), their well-being must be guaranteed throughout the extraction process.
  • Packaging – Reduce your environmental impacts by minimizing the amount of material used and maximizing the amount of material that can be recycled. There are certain prohibited materials such as PVC.

However, and depending on the certifier, it will be stricter in the use of certain synthetic ingredients, as well as in its certification levels.

Main stamps in certified cosmetics

When choosing a certified organic or natural cosmetic, we must look at the seal that accompanies its labeling. There are as many seals as there are authorized certifiers for cosmetic products, each of them having its own standards and, in turn, different levels of certification or, in other words, different seals. 

To unify the requirements and shed some light in this complicated world of certification, we find COSMOS ORGANICS and NATRUE . Both are non-profit associations created by certifying bodies and businessmen in the sector, respectively, who have a great influence on the market and on cosmetic regulations. 

Natrue has a two-level classification for finished cosmetic products:

  • Certified natural cosmetic products : at least 95% of the ingredients must be natural.
  • Certified organic cosmetic products : at least 95% of the certifiable ingredients must be organic. At least 20% have to be ingredients of plant origin and a maximum of 15% can be substances from the transformation of natural raw materials.

Bio.inspecta is very present in Spain as an independent Natrue certifier thanks to the Bio Vida Sana standard, created by the Vida Sana Association in 2007 when it detected that part of the national sector had problems getting certified and that they wanted to do so. The standard is specially designed for local artisans who want to offer the consumer the guarantee that their products are well made.

This certification has 3 levels for finished cosmetic products:

  • Certified natural cosmetic products : at least 95% of the ingredients must be natural. 5% of non-natural products similar to natural or synthetic ones are allowed as long as they are essential for the formulation.
  • Certified natural cosmetic products with a % of organic ingredients: the same as certified natural cosmetics but with some organic ingredients.
  • Certified organic cosmetic products : at least 95% of the certifiable ingredients are organic.

CCPB SRL (Consortium for the Control of Biological Production) is an Italian body that internationally certifies organically produced cosmetic and agri-food products. In cosmetics he has a long experience differentiating two levels of certification:

  • "Cosmetici Naturali": at least 95% of the ingredients must be natural.
  • “Cosmetici Biologici”: 95% of the certifiable ingredients have to be organic. At least 10% of the total product must be organic.

The Cosmos standard encompasses two levels or seals for finished cosmetic products:

  • "NATURAL COSMOS" : at least 95% of the ingredients must be natural. The logo of the certifying body that grants it appears and below "COSMOS NATURAL".
  • "COSMOS ORGANIC": 95% of the certifiable ingredients must be organic. At least 20% of the total product must be organic. The logo of the certifier appears and below "COSMOS ORGANIC".

The organizations, in addition to granting the Cosmos standard certificate, can also use their own regulations to certify with their own seal. It is relevant to make a special mention to CAAE, which is the only Spanish certifier authorized by Cosmos Organic.

Acene is a certifier located in Valladolid that started as an association. With the experience acquired over the years, it has consolidated itself as a trustworthy and accessible company for the certification of manufacturers, artisans and brands of organic cosmetics.

Its standard is quite strict, combining its own criteria and the most demanding of the Cosmos standard. It has two levels of certification:

  • ACENE BIO : 97% of the total ingredients are of natural origin, including water or products of mineral origin and have a minimum of 20% certified organic origin in their formulation.
  • ACENE NAT : 97% of ingredients are of natural and mineral origin, including water.

In addition to the seals to determine if a cosmetic is organic or natural, we also find those that indicate that the cosmetic is "Cruelty Free" and/or "Vegan". Both stamps have different meanings and can be found independently or together:

  • «Cruelty Free» : cosmetic that has not been tested on animals in any of the phases of product development. May contain ingredients of animal origin such as honey, beeswax, milk, etc.
  • «Vegan» : cosmetic product that does not contain ingredients of animal origin or derivatives.

In 2013, the European Union completely prohibited testing on animals both cosmetics and the ingredients that make them up and, in addition, the commercialization of products that were on European territory was prohibited. Therefore, if we buy a cosmetic in Europe, we can rest assured that it has not been tested on animals and no "Cruelty Free" seal will be necessary.

However, many brands resort to private certifications to confirm that none of the ingredients from non-EU countries have been tested on animals. In this way, an additional guarantee is given to the consumer but it is redundant, since the commercialization of cosmetics tested on animals in Europe is not allowed.

Kalipay Cosmetics has the ACENE Natural, Organic, Vegan and Bio seals, since they require the highest percentage in their certifications.
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