Over the years, have your purchases of organic and/or natural products been on the rise? If so, you are not alone – the beauty industry is witnessing year on year, an increase in demand for organic and natural products. In 2015 alone, we saw purchases increase by 21.6%, totaling £54.2million. Given this increased demand, you may be interested in knowing exactly what the terms ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ really mean.
Although demand for organic and natural products is increasing, there aren’t any hard and fast rules to define how much organic or natural ingredients must be used in order to call a product organic or natural. To get a better idea, here are some examples.Company A for instance sells an ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ lip balm. You may think, great I’m putting only organic and natural ingredients on my lips! In some cases this may be the case. In many cases however, only a percentage of the listed ingredients will be organic and/or natural and this percentage could range from 100% to as little as 1%. In either case, it is perfectly legal to advertise the lip balm as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’. So it goes without saying, take careful note of the ingredients, noting which ingredients are marked as organic and which are marked as natural.
In the UK, an organic and natural certification system has been established through the Soil Association since 2002. This is a certification system that companies pay for in order to use the organic or natural symbol. It is not a legal requirement under UK law, but it does help to bring some common guidelines and increase transparency for the consumer.
In January 2017, the Soil Association introduced COSMOS, which stands for COSMetic Organic Standard. Developed by five European members, including Great Britain’s Social Association, COSMOS sets, “minimum common requirements, harmonise(s) organic and natural cosmetic certification rules, and lobb(ies) institutions in the sector’s interest.”
So what exactly does a product certified COSMOS organic or a product certified COSMOS natural mean? The Soil Association has established some common guidelines. They are:
Another element to note about the COSMOS certification is the percentage of organic or natural ingredients required. As mentioned within the example of Company A, a product with as little as 1% organic ingredients can be marketed as organic. COSMOS on the other hand, sets a minimum amount of required organically or naturally sourced ingredients.
The minimum amount can vary however depending on: 1) the type of organic certification sought; and 2) how the product is applied. As depicted in Figure 3, to receive “Organic” status, 95% of a product’s ingredients must be organic. To receive “Made with Organic” status only 10-20% of a product’s ingredients must be organic. Also, each individual organic ingredient must be clearly marked as organic within the ingredient list.
Unlike organic certification, COSMOS has not set a minimum amount of naturally sourced ingredients. Rather, COSMOS stipulates that, “(n)atural products mainly contain ingredients from natural origin.” The key word here is mainly. As a consumer, I would interpret this as over 50% of ingredients need to be from a natural source, but this has not been validated by COSMOS, and as a result is just that, an interpretation.
With such a vague requirements regarding the natural certification, how can you be sure how much of your product comes from natural sources? First, under UK law, ingredients must be listed in descending order of weight. Second, for marketing purposes, companies will often highlight those products of natural (and organic) origin on the ingredient list. With these two points in mind, you can identify what is listed as natural and can simply “do the maths”. If you are looking at a product that is not COSMOS certified and the ingredients are not clearly defined as natural, assume they aren’t. Many ingredients which can be of natural origin can also be made synthetically.
ON! Juniper has not yet applied for organic certification. Why? As a small UK start-up business, it simply comes down to cost. COSMOS is a private standard, which means there is a fee to apply for certification and an annual charge to maintain the use of its logo. Rolling in certification fees to our product cost at this stage would increase product prices and we want to keep our price points affordable to everyone, especially for young girls. So despite not having the COSMOS logo – please rest assured, ON! Juniper’s products are proudly made with only high-quality organic and natural ingredients. No maths required!
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Tess is the founder and Director of ON! Juniper, a company created to provide organic and natural bath and beauty products to girls.. ON! Juniper currently handmakes and sells lip balms and bath bombs, made with only organic and natural ingredients that are skin-loving. www.onjuniper.com