Having your products organically-certified may be a great strategy to help sell your natural skincare products and communicate their competitive advantage to your consumer.
Consumers today are armed with more knowledge, product understanding, and do more research before purchasing a product than ever before. Some consumers really value a brand or company which has the support of a certification by an independent governing body.
So why would you have your products organically certified, and what does it involve?
Having your products organically certified communicates credibility to your consumers. A certification represents a seal of approval- that your products have passed a variety of conditions and qualifications in order to pass and bear the certification seal.
According to the Soil Association, which represents the organic certification body in the UK;
“Look for the Soil Association symbol on organic cosmetics, organic skin care, organic hair products and organic soaps to ensure the product you buy is certified to a standard you trust.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body and what you put on it can be absorbed in tiny amounts. So it’s no surprise that a growing number of beauty products are now being produced with organic ingredients. Unfortunately, unlike organic food, there are no legal standards for organic beauty products. So as a result, some companies choose to label a product as ‘organic’ even if it only contains 1% organic ingredients or if it contains potentially hazardous substances.
This is why we, alongside four other European certification bodies, have developed the Cosmetics Organic Standard, or COSMOS-standard, to harmonise organic standards globally. The first products certified to these new standards hit the shelves in Spring 2011. To get Cosmos organic certification, 95% of a product’s agro-ingredients and 20% of the entire product must be organic. The remaining ingredients must meet strict criteria to ensure that they are not damaging to our health or the environment. Products must also meet environmental standards for packaging and manufacturing, and use approved ‘green chemistry’ processes when modifying ingredients.
If a product uses between 70-95% organic agro-ingredients then we will certify it, though we will not allow it claim to be organic. In this case it can state that it is made with ‘xx% organic ingredients’. However, we will not certify any product with less than 70% organic ingredients at all.”
(Sourced from: http://www.soilassociation.org/Whatisorganic/Organicbeauty).
Advantages of organic certification for natural skincare / cosmetics
Some advantages to having your natural beauty products organically certified include:
- it clearly demonstrates your products contain superior organic ingredients;
- it sets you apart from your competition and communicates a clear competitive advantage for your company or your brand;
- your brand bears a recognizable certification symbol/logo;
- some consumers may really value and specifically search for products which meet the strict standards of this certification symbol.
According to the Soil Association, once you see the Soil Association or COSMOS symbol on a cosmetic product, it specifically means that:
- The producer has had its manufacturing facility inspected annually by the Soil Association or another certifying body. This includes an audit of the organic ingredients used and a demonstration of ecologically sound production methods.
- All product formulae and labels have been approved.
- It will be clearly labelled so that you can make an informed choice about the product you are buying.
- Any non-organic ingredients are being used because no organic equivalents were available.
- All ingredients are GM free – non-organic ingredients can only be used if their suppliers has submitted a declaration that it is non-GM.
- It has used minimal non-organic additives and only those from a restricted list. These must be non-GM and can only be used if the organic version of that ingredient is not yet available
- Any processed ingredients, are processed by ecologically sound means.
(Sourced from: http://www.soilassociation.org/Whatisorganic/Organicbeauty).
Disadvantages of organic certification for natural skincare / cosmetics
There are some disadvantages to obtaining organic certification of your natural beauty products.
- The main disadvantage is related to the cost, as the process of applying for, meeting requirements and maintaining certification can be expensive.
- Furthermore, it is important to find out if this particular certification is important to your consumers, as there is a risk your target consumer may not respond to the certification, and it may not alter their buying decision.
- Certification bodies often have strict guidelines to meet, and that may restrict your future business decisions or plans.
How to have your natural skincare products / cosmetics certified as organic
While formulating and designing your new natural skincare product range, it is important to learn about the various organic certifying governing bodies, and determine whether your brand or products will seek certification or not. That way, you may be proactive in selecting ingredients and practices which meet the specific certification guidelines of whatever certification you will be seeking to obtain. This can save you significant time and effort upfront, rather than having to alter your ingredient selection and practices after already being established, in order to apply for a certification later.
Is organic certification something that will be important to your consumers?
It is key to consider your target consumer, whether they will respond to your selected organic certification, and will they be willing to pay more for your products if they become certified? As obtaining and maintaining organic certification can be rather expensive, it is important to determine whether your end consumer will actually seek and purchase your products with the certification endorsement, as the cost will likely be passed on to them.
Organic Certification Bodies for Skincare & Cosmetics
There are several different main certification bodies around the world, each with different requirements to meet their approval. Below is a summary of the key organic certification bodies, their requirements and a link to their websites to learn more:
France | ECOCERT
One of the more globally-recognized and respected organic certifications comes from Ecocert. They are a global-governing body which is based in France, and they align themselves with the COSMOS standard. “Ecocert Certification is subject to supervision. Certification bodies are themselves audited by the relevant authorities and bodies, as part of the approval and accreditation process. In France, the French Accreditation Committee (Cofrac) is the designated body for the accreditation of certification bodies according to the EN 45011 standard, which requires independence, competence and impartiality. Ecocert takes all the measures necessary to meet these requirements and ensure the reliability of its decisions.”
Certification is recognized both in France and elsewhere, these standards are used to conduct inspections on the basis of technical criteria:
- Natural and organic cosmetics.
- Natural cleaning products.
- Natural and organic home perfumes.
- Paintings and coatings products from natural origin.
- Being − Organic & ecological Spa
- EFT (Ecocert Fair Trade) – Organic and fair trade products.
- Eve® (Ecological green spaces).
- Inputs eligible for use in organic farming (fertilisers, phytosanitary products, etc).
- Environmentally friendly production of aquatic plants and their processing (Spirulina, food supplements).
More information can be found on the Ecocert website at: http://www.ecocert.com/en
UK | Soil Association
The United Kingdom’s governing body for Organic Certification is called the Soil Association, and they helped develop and also commit to the COSMOS standards. The Soil Association has a website which clearly outlines steps to apply for certification, however the Association strongly urges candidates to contact them to discuss before moving forward. Certification may be obtained for single ingredient or multiple ingredient products.
The steps generally include;
- Initial contact with the Soil Association
- Product information & label review
- Post-inspection and obtaining your organic licence
- Maintaining your relationship with the Soil Association
For more information, see the Soil Association’s general website at http://www.soilassociation.org/
or their webpage which outlines the steps of certification here: http://www.sacert.org/healthbeauty/stepstocertification
USA | USDA
Within the United States, the USDA provides guidelines for the use of the term organic (and labelling) in cosmetics, according to the percentage of organic ingredients within the products:
100% Organic: Must contain only organically produced ingredients. (The USDA seal may appear on the package.)
Organic: Must contain 95% minimum organically produced ingredients. The product cannot be produced using any excluded materials or methods, such containing synthetic preservatives or petrochemicals. (The USDA seal may appear on the package.)
Made with Organic Ingredients: Contain at least 70% organic ingredients. (The USDA seal cannot be used anywhere on the package.)
“If a cosmetic is labeled ‘organic’ according to the USDA, is it still subject to the laws and regulations enforced by FDA. The USDA requirements for the use of the term ‘organic’ are separate from the laws and regulations that FDA enforces for cosmetics. Cosmetic products labeled with organic claims must comply with both USDA regulations for the organic claim and FDA regulations for labeling and safety requirements for cosmetics.
More information may be found at:
Other organic certification bodies exist within several countries around the world, such as BDIH for Germany, and Australian Organic within Australia. There are also several organic consumer-representing authorities, such as the Organic Consumers Association, OASIS, and NSF/ANSI.
Sources & further information:
We hope this guide is useful!
How important is organic certification to you as a consumer and business owner? Leave a comment below!