Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Organic Certification 101

If natural & organic cosmetics are near and dear to your heart, here's a 101 on organic certification for skin care and on Eco-cert, the very first certification body to develop standards for natural/organic cosmetics and sustainable packaging.

Organic Certification for Skin Care

Today in the US, skin care companies can say just about anything to market their products (unless they are selling drug products, which are strictly regulated). The need for third-party standards is clear, but unfortunately the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) does not apply well to cosmetic products. This is because “organic” is a term used by the US government for agriculture (things that grow directly from the ground), and the NOP is the regulation for the enforcement of organic food production. In fact, cosmetics were not even a consideration when the regulation was conceived. The USDA Organic seal works great for a simple mix or blend of ingredients like powder or oils since there is no cosmetic chemistry involved. However, for anything more complicated like a shampoo, functional lotion, or cream (which, like it or not, must involve chemistry), certifying organic is a much more complex.

Who/what is Eco-cert?
Based in France but with global offices, Eco-cert is a certifying body that understands the complexity of cosmetics and has developed a standard for natural and organic cosmetics that works with local standards around the world. The Eco-cert seal is common in Europe and Asia, and is just beginning to gain traction in the US. Eco-cert got its start in 1991 specializing in the certification of organic farming and in 2002 leveraged its large knowledge base to create an organic standard specifically for personal care/cosmetic products. The Eco-cert standard is robust; it takes into account the practical nature of formulating, manufacturing and packaging this class of products that rely on a unique blend of nature, cosmetic chemistry, and sustainable packaging.

Why is a Standard Necessary?
A well thought-out standard goes a long way to cut through the noise and helps guide consumers and manufacturers alike navigate their way through a crowded and growing natural/organic world. Put very simply, a natural and organic standard ensures an environmentally friendly approach to the full product life cycle, from sourcing natural materials to producing and packaging the final product.

This includes:
  • ingredients derived from renewable resources and manufactured by environmentally friendly processes
  • the absence of GMOs
  • products free of synthetic perfumes and dyes
  • biodegradable or recyclable packaging
  • a certain amount of natural ingredients from organic farming
  • an on-site audit performed by an Eco-cert auditor

When you see the Eco-cert logo, you will know that a thoughtful and comprehensive approach was taken to evaluate the natural and organic claim and that these claims are third-party certified.
California Baby's manufacturing facility is certified by Eco-cert as an organic handling facility to the USDA Natural and Organic Product standard. We have recently completed updating some of our products in preparation for certification to Eco-cert's natural and organic cosmetic standard, and hope to have the certified products available by summer of 2012!