The Soil Association, UK has begun a campaign to urge brands to 'Come Clean About Beauty'. In a nutshell, this campaign is highlighting the fact that beauty brands can and do use terms in their marketing that are misleading to the consumer. The two biggest culprits: 'organic' and 'natural'. These two terms are unregulated in the cosmetic world and brands can fill their products with potentially unhealthy and unethical ingredients whilst still claiming natural.
Feeling annoyed yet?
Greenwashing is prevalent in today's beauty market. Companies know how to tap into your spending psyche and any feel good factor (like purchasing 'green' products) will motivate you reach for your wallet. You will find this technique adopted in marketing from high end brands all the way down to small boutique brands.
So what's the solution!?
The best combat: educate yourself. Know the ingredients to look out for and know your labels! The ingredients part takes some time to learn. A good place to start is our no-no list here. This list is not exhaustive. There are still other ingredients to be concerned with and even if a brand complies, it doesn't mean that they are automatically 'organic' or 'natural'. It helps to know how these terms are actually defined.
Whilst every regulatory body has slightly different terminology, the following can be made as general statements.
Natural Ingredients: Are substances that nature has caused to exist. (Therefore they are diametrically opposite to human-made, synthetic material). This can mean that the ingredient remains unmodified from it’s original form, or has only undergone limited physical and/or chemical processing deemed acceptable by international standards.
According to the COSMOS Standard, a substance of natural origin could be one of the following: water, minerals and ingredients of mineral origin, physically processed agro-ingredients or chemically processed agro-ingredients. Included under these terms are salts, raw plant material and plant solvents. No genetically modified material and no synthetic ingredients or processes can constitute a natural product.
Organic: To be truly organic, ingredients must have been produced without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilisers or other forms of synthetic chemicals. They must come from farming systems that work in harmony with the environment- ensuring that the soil nutrients are not lost and biodiversity is able to be conserved. Waste and emissions are kept in check and animal welfare standards are at the highest. It also means that there is the assurance of knowing exactly what is in the products you consume. No strange synthetic chemicals are added at any stage of the ingredient’s journey to you.
The best way to know if a product is true to its organic claims, is through a certification logo. These are distributed by organisations who investigate companies wanting to prove that they are the real deal. Each organisation will have strict criteria that brands must adhere to in order to receive the ability to use their trusted logo. The common ones, which you will see on ATURA product pages are here:
The Soil Association: The leading organic and natural certification organisation in the UK. This is a not-for-profit business which accounts for one of five charter members for Cosmetic Organic Standard (COSMOS) in the EU. They state that any product to be certified organic through them, has to be made up of 95% of organic materials. Certified companies are checked thoroughly, including their suppliers, and random inspections are carried out to keep their trusted standards high.
Australian Certified Organic: They provide one of the most strict and most comprehensive organic standards, taking into consideration many international requirements for organic claims. This includes restrictions on GMO’s, recycling of soil nutrients and effective water management. The ACO regularly updates its standard and randomly audits companies under its scheme.
Ecocert: Another COSMOS charter member based in France. They also have a 95% minimum organic make up of ingredients in certified products as well as biodegradable or recyclable packaging stipulated.
NaTrue: an international non-profit association based in Belgium. They promote natural and organic cosmetics by focussing on what is inside a product. This includes ingredients and the processes they have undertaken to become part of the formula. NaTrue uses three levels of certification: Natural Cosmetics, Natural Cosmetics with an Organic Portion and Organic Cosmetics.
The Organic Food Chain Pty Ltd (OFC): This certification is primarily concerned with farming activity and improving the soil so that naturally occurring processes and nutrients are not lost from the land. Certification includes meeting the National Standard for Organic & Bio-Dynamic Produce, independent audits and chemical residue analysis testing.
Other Organic Certification Bodies who have minimum standards based on EU, Australian or other national and international regulations (click on the logo for more information):
Why does ATURA stock products that don't have any certification logos?
To be blunt; the certification process is expensive. Whilst we will always encourage brands to aim for certification, we don't believe those who are honestly trying to do the right thing should be punished for not making it to this particular stage yet. ATURA loves small batch brands who are often individuals striving to make a positive impact on their health, environment and community. So, as long as they meet our criteria, our ingredients policy and we consider their branding and communications with us are all in line with ATURA's values, we are happy to stock them. Remember- if you're unsure about something you see in the ATURA store, you can contact us for clarity and peace of mind!
*Please note that we will be writing another blog post soon that will explain other types of logos such as The Vegan Society, Cruelty Free International and RSPO.