Natural and organic cosmetic certifications and standards for the EU beauty industry

There has been an increased interest in natural and organic cosmetics in recent years. Consumers are increasingly aware of the cosmetics they use every day and want to ensure that they are using the best products for their skin and the environment. For some, this means avoiding certain ingredients or seeking organic and natural cosmetics.

Cosmetic brands are well aware of consumer interest in “green” cosmetics, and the plethora of cosmetic products on the market clearly shows this. But with little regulation around the terms “organic” and “natural,” it can be difficult for consumers to know whether these products are indeed organic or natural or if it’s all just a marketing gimmick.

This is where certification and standards come in, as they play an important role in providing a guarantee to consumers, who can be sure that products meet certain criteria for natural/organic and environmentally friendly products. . The certificates, as well as raising consumer awareness about it, help them recognize unsubstantiated claims that give a false impression or provide misleading information about the origin of a product – the so-called “greenwashing”. .

In this article, we take a look at the main organic and natural certifications in cosmetics, which will hopefully provide some clarity for cosmetic brands and consumers who are only just beginning to learn about this topic.


The NATRUE label was created in 2008 and allows only the highest level of natural and organic ingredients to be NATRUE certified.

The NATRUE standard divides permitted ingredients into three categories: natural substances, natural identical substances and natural derived substances. It prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the predisposition to certification is that all products must comply with the Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009.

The NATRUE standard applies to raw materials and finished cosmetic products. For the latter, there are two levels of certification: natural and organic. To meet the definition of a natural cosmetic product, the formulation must respect the minimum levels of natural substances and the maximum levels of derived natural raw materials. Organic cosmetics, on the other hand, must comply with the criteria for natural cosmetics as well as the additional requirement that at least 95% of the natural substances of plant and animal origin and derived natural substances contained in the product come from organic farming. controlled. agriculture and/or wild gathering.


The COSMOS standard is an international certification for cosmetics, and it is one of the most popular certifications for cosmetics. There are more than 29,000 products in 71 countries and more than 12,000 ingredients that bear this COSMOS organic or COSMOS natural signature.

This standard was founded in 2002 by BDIH – Germany, Cosmebio – France, Ecocert-France, ICEA – Italy and the Soil Association – United Kingdom. It includes both product and ingredient certifications. The COSMOS standard covers the supply, manufacture, marketing and control of cosmetic products.

The main sections of the COSMOS standards cover:

– Origin and processing of ingredients

– Product composition

– Storage, manufacturing and packaging

– Environnment management

– Labeling and advertising

– Inspection, certification and control

The certification process is carried out by COSMOS certification bodies, which inspect all aspects covered by the COSMOS standard and provide the official COSMOS logo and signature.

COSMOS offers two signatures for COSMOS ORGANIC or COSMOS NATURAL cosmetic products. The first signature is available for products that comply with the COSMOS standard in all aspects and contain the required percentages of organic ingredients as defined in the standard. Products that meet all aspects of the standards but do not meet the required minimum organic percentages can apply for the COSMOS NATURAL signature.

Ingredients and raw materials can be COSMOS CERTIFIED or COSMOS APPROVED. The first applies to agro-ingredients that are physically and chemically processed with organic content that meets the COSMOS standard. The second signature is available for non-organic raw materials whose use is approved in cosmetic products certified according to the COSMOS standard.


The BDIH certificate was developed in 1996 and stands for Association of German Industries and Commercial Enterprises. It applies to pharmaceutical products, food supplements, health care products and personal hygiene products.

The guidelines cover raw materials of plant, animal and mineral origin, animal protection, production processes, prohibited substances, authorized preservatives and fragrances. This certificate rejects genetic manipulation and modification as well as radioactive irradiation.


ICEA is an Italian non-profit consortium of institutions, associations, companies and civil society organizations. ICEA certification goes beyond the organic concept towards a sustainable and fair economy and the protection of the environment, workers and consumer rights. The certification covers both food and non-food areas.


Soil Association Certification is a UK-based organic certification body that offers a wide range of organic and sustainable certifications for different areas – food, agriculture, health and beauty, textiles, forestry and catering. They launched their first standards for organic cosmetics in 2002.

The Soil Association is part of the COSMOS standards, so products seeking certification must meet these standards. However, the Soil Association Health & Beauty standard still exists for products that are not classified as cosmetics. It covers household cleaning products, intimate health products and medical products.


The European Ecolabel was created in 1992 and is a label of environmental excellence. Products that wish to obtain this label must meet high environmental standards throughout their life cycle: from the extraction of raw materials to production, distribution and disposal. The main objective of Ecolabel is to promote a circular economy and to encourage companies to manufacture recyclable and sustainable products.

The EU Ecolabel criteria for cosmetic products are defined by COMMISSION DECISION (EU) 2021/1870​. However, this label is not exclusive to cosmetics, but it also applies to paints, varnishes, power supply, furniture, as well as services, such as hotels or campsites.

ISO 16128

The ISO standard helps provide an international definition of organic and natural products. It includes guidelines on technical definitions and criteria for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products. Part 1 (ISO 16126-1) was published in 2016 and includes definitions for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients. Part 2 (ISO 16127-2)​, which was published in 2017, includes criteria for ingredients and products. It describes how to calculate the natural, of natural origin, organic and organic origin indices that apply to the ingredients defined in part 1.

About Alma Ackerman

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