It’s a confusing world out there trying to understand what exactly organic; certified organic; natural or 100% organic actually means. Unfortunately being aware of the different certifications is not really going to help because the term organic is still being defined when it comes to cosmetics.
There is no two ways about it – the bottom line in judging whether a product is organic is in the sauce. The ingredients used are a products best certification. But I have outline the most common certifications below so that you are at least aware of where they come from.
ECOCERT is a control and certification organisation, whose activities are governed accordingly by the public authorities and legislation. ECOCERT is accredited for structure and procedures by COFRAC (French committee for accreditation), in accordance with guide standard ISO 65 (EN 45011), which requires independence, competence and impartiality
By means of the ECOLOGICAL AND ORGANIC COSMETICS standards, Ecocert defines a requirement level that is superior to the conventional regulation governing cosmetics, thereby guaranteeing the genuine practice of environmental respect throughout the production line, respect for the consumer and the promotion of natural substances of a superior ecological quality.
Eco-cert allows for two levels of claims: "ecological cosmetic" (95 percent of ingredients from natural origin, with organic ingredients representing 5 percent of the total of compounds and 50 percent of vegetal ingredients) and "organic cosmetic" (95 percent of ingredients from natural origin, with organic ingredients representing 10 percent of the total of compounds and 95 percent of vegetal ingredients).
Read more about this at: www.ecocert.com
Ecocert and Afrisco are an organic certifier which provides organic certification for food, cosmetics and textiles to South African, EU, US and Japanese standards.
Read more about this at: www.afrisco.net
Bio-Org gains its certification through the BDOCA (Biodynamic and Organic Certification Authority). The
BDOCA operates under the Agricultural Product Standards Act 119 of 1990 and regulates and controls sales
of organic products in SA. Inspections are carried out yearly and certificates carry one year expiry
All products showing the BIO-ORG symbol have been thoroughly audited and checked from end product back through to the raw material, and which includes farming methods, input controls, transport, manufacture and pack house controls, sales and packaging.
UK Soil Association
The Soil Association organic symbol is the UK's main certification mark, appearing on approximately 70% of organic food produced in the UK. The symbol tells you that produce has met and in some important areas exceeded minimum government requirements. The Soil Association is one of only a very few of these bodies that have chosen to set standards higher than the EU minimum in areas of animal welfare and nature conservation.
In the absence of any European legislation, on 1 May 2002, the Soil Association launched its own, voluntary, standards, to satisfy the growing interest from companies in organic beauty products. The standards were developed over three years by representatives from health and beauty companies, consumer organisations, herbalists, farmers, growers, and the Soil Association. The organisation said the standards will continue to evolve as increased research and expertise in the field becomes available.
The Soil Association believed that its symbol, already recognised as authoritative where food products were concerned, would assure consumers that products had been independently audited for organic authenticity.
The Soil Association’s standards guarantee the following:
- Certified organic ingredients are used.
- No genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.
- Product labeling is clear and honest.
- Ingredients must be environmentally friendly (biodegradable).
- Minimal processing.
Read more about this at: www.soilassociation.org/certification
BDIH - Natural Beauty Standard
The BDIH standard is well established in Europe and has certified many of the pioneers of organic and natural skincare.
The following paragraphs have been extracted from their website and will give you a good feel for their ethos and guidelines.
“During the collection and production of raw materials, nature is to be disturbed as little as possible. Particular care to protect endangered species is mandated. Genetic manipulation and modification are rejected. The transformation of raw materials into cosmetics is to be accomplished with care and with few chemical processes.
Renewable and biodegradable materials are preferred because their ecological impact is substantially lower, especially when they come from certified organic sources or other responsible means using natural resources. With natural ingredients, one deals with substances that have been used and studied for ages, so there is a minimal toxicity potential. Natural products most easily fulfill the requirement of accountability and socially responsible production.”
You can read about their guidelines at: http://www.kontrollierte-naturkosmetik.de/e/guideline_natural_cosmetics.htm rel="nofollow"
BCS is an independent and private controlling agency, operating since 1992, which certifies organic products worldwide in accordance with international regulations and private standards. They are based in Germany with representing agencies in 4 continents; Africa, America, Asia and Europe. They are also a member of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements), an umbrella group for all organic certifiers worldwide.
Read more about this at: www.bcs-oeko.com/en_index.html
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture)
The Organic Foods Production Act and the National Organic Program (NOP) are intended to assure consumers that the organic foods they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to consistent national organic standards. The labeling requirements of the new program apply to raw, fresh products and processed foods that contain organic ingredients. Foods that are sold, labeled, or represented as organic will have to be produced and processed in accordance with the NOP standards.
Foods labeled "100 percent organic" and "organic"
Products labeled as "100 percent organic" must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients.
Products labeled "organic" must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances approved on the National List or non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.
Processed products labeled "made with organic ingredients"
Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase "made with organic ingredients" and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel.
Read more about this at: www.usda.gov
(Please note that while we will not supply any products on this site that may, to the best of our knowledge contain harmful ingredients, we are not strictly guided by certification and so not all products sold here carry organic certification. It really is very much a grey area and we do not necessarily believe at this stage that a certification on one product always ensures efficacy and safety beyond that of another.)