Some questions about the organic cosmetics industry and the certifications


Are the natural ingredients, certified or not, deprived of any danger or toxicity? No, it is not because they are natural that these substances are not dangerous…Nature abounds with allergenic substances, and even mortal poisons. Do not forget that Socrates poisoned himself with hemlock!

The natural ingredients present in organic cosmetics are however subjected to very strict regulations and you will see in chapter “ Skin Deep and other tools… ” that some controversies still animate the world of certifications and organic products, even the most strict ones like BDIH.

It is often thought that the cosmetic products used in Antiquity were natural and inoffensive. It is true that, not having the technological means necessary to make a soup of chemicals as we do today, people used natural ingredients, but it happened sometimes that they used ingredients like lead, mercury and even arsenic, which are real poisons.

For several centuries, until the XIXth century, a bleaching agent was used for the face, composed of carbonate, hydroxide and of lead oxide. Accumulated in the body, this powder can cause many mental- health problems and even paralysis or death. Other products such as eye-shadows, lipsticks and powders were composed of toxic ingredients.

The sad thing is that after 5000 years we continue to use the same harmful products with the only difference that, before, one used them because of man’s ignorance and that, today, one uses them because of man’s cupidity.

If you think of finding in all the certified organic cosmetic products the garden of your grandmother you will be disappointed, because all depends on the product and its technical features which the manufacturing process imposes. On the one hand, as we saw in the chapter “ Reading the labels ”, not all the natural ingredients can be certified . On the other hand, in certain products, only one small percentage of the product can contain organic ingredients . Shampoos for instance are mainly made up of surface-active elements and these cannot be organic. So then, the share of the possibly organic ingredients, considering the manufacturing process, is reduced. For make-up (powders, eye-shadows), one cannot use a lot of organic ingredients, because the base is made up of talc, of silk powder, magnesium stearate, etc…On the other hand, for creams and lotions which have a base of oils and water, (the excipient is the base of the product after water – results from plants like oils or greases of jojoba, argan, shea tree, olive, apricot, etc…) as for lipsticks for instance, the organic share is larger considering that the nature of the product allows it. Here’s the good news: when present, dependent upon certification and upon each manufacturer, the active ingredients are of excellent quality and notwithstanding the quantity used (which can go up to 35%), it is definitely higher than the products coming from a conventional manufacture (below 1%).

Dependent upon the nature and the product formulation it is almost impossible to do without the chemical processes when it concerns cosmetics. However, for certified products, one uses a green chemistry and the products of synthesis are soft and present in a very limited number, in accordance with the specifications. Thus, the surface-active emulsifiers are often derived from esters of sugars and of plantlike matters, the preservatives are natural (citric acid) or soft synthetics (benzoic acid, salicylic acid), the additives like dyes or perfumes are also natural.

I would say in conclusion that certification is a pledge of a product which is more secure than those resulting from the conventional industry , with a greater quantity of natural ingredients of natural and organic quality, controlled by the specifications and with a minimum of synthetic products. The organic products are controlled on two levels, the product itself and the manufacturing process. As we explained in the chapter “ Labels and certifications ”, certain certifications are very strict and the labelled products are very safe but others, although in very, very restricted numbers, still allow some controversial ingredients of synthetic origin, which are in discordance with the very definition of an organic product.

To reinforce the bond of confidence with the consumer, I would say that certain labels need more transparency and clarity concerning the exact percentage of the organic ingredients contained in the product and in regard to the synthetic substances still used , in particular in regard to the level of the preservatives and surface-active agents who, although posted, pass unperceived in the stream of the other ingredients armed with their untouchable asterisk.  On the other hand, the question as to what to choose between conventional cosmetics and those that are organic is not even asked anymore; if it is true that some certified organic products are not perfect, to continue to paste oneself with toxic certified chemicals (to remain in certifications…), is not a responsible choice anymore. With a little time, money and research, one will soon arrive at increasingly competitive products while taking our environment into consideration.

Some statistics on the industry of organic cosmetics

Although one estimates at only 3% the share of organic cosmetics in the whole of the cosmetics world, this branch of industry proves to be very dynamic with a European rate of growth between 20 and 40% depending upon the country and even 60% for certain products! Thus, according to the study Les marchés bio en Europe : faits, tendances, opportunités (Organic markets in Europe: facts, trends, opportunities) , made at the request of Organics Cluster Lyon, on May 27, 2010:

º The United Kingdom shows a rate of penetration of organic cosmetics of 25% with a market share of 2,6% of the global market (GBP 26 million) and with a prospect for 5% in 2012 (GBP 52 million). Interesting fact: large distribution in big shopping centres and small supplement-price for the “natural cosmetics” products.

º In Denmark the market share of organic cosmetics accounts for 2%, the organic cosmetics products are distributed in specialized organic stores but also in conventional supermarkets, with a great sales development via Internet. The best known brands in Denmark are ECOCERT, BDIH and NaTrue. No difference in price compared to the conventional products.

º In Germany , the market pioneer for the organic cosmetics, the volume of the market represents 717 million euros; with a market share of 5,6% and a growth in 2008/2009 of 7%. After long years of containment in organic stores, the organic cosmetic is widely distributed. The market share in specialized distribution is 20% and the stores of great distribution gain ground.

º In the United States , the market for “natural cosmetics” is thought to have reached 5,2 billion $, with an average expenditure per capita of 15,7 dollars. Between 2005 and 2008, the volume of sales has more than doubled. The organic cosmetic leaves the specialized stores to position itself more and more in the conventional stores among whom pharmacies that strongly could increase their sales turnover. The basic commodities are in vogue: personal care and hygiene like soap, body care, lotions or shampoos. The line between natural products and those that are really certified is even fuzzier than in Europe. According to the OTA, one counted 2.600 certified cosmetics products in 2008 and these products have reached a volume of 250-500 million dollars. For 2017, the Organic Monitor envisages a sales turnover of 8 billion dollars in the United States.

º In France , the market of natural and organic cosmetics products has generated a sales turnover of 270 million euros in 2009 (+ 11% compared to 2008). Although the organic cosmetics account for only 3 to 4% of the sales, one counted 235 brands in mid-2010 against 40 in 2006. [1]

“Strong from a centuries-long tradition of phyto-therapy, Asia remains the largest market for natural personal care in the world, but is classified now on the second rank after Brazil posting a growth with two digits in 2010. Here, natural formulations really hold a greater part with nearly a quarter of the market, but the growth in the natural products of inspiration gains in force because the consumers require bulk products at lower prices.

The Brazilian market for natural products climbed to a growth rate of 20% on average (CAGR) since 2005, passing from  2.9 million in 2005 to 7.4 million in 2010.

Everywhere in the world, consumers expressed an unceasingly growing interest in natural products, which will continue to enhance double-digit growth throughout the world, which is a welcome respite to diversify multinational manufacturers who are under the shock of a poor performance in cosmetics and the whole of the market of personal care articles”. [2]

“According to experts, sales of natural and organic cosmetics continue to grow at a very constant pace in Europe, with a sales turnover announced with an increase of 13% to 1,7 billion euros this year. Organic Monitor envisages a sales turnover approaching 2 billion euros in 2010”. [3]

Other recent studies (May 2011) for the United States. Natural cosmetics: the keen demand and the high growth potential.

The growing interest for a healthy way of life also influences the cosmetics market. The increasingly critical attitude of consumers vis-à-vis chemical products and ingredients resulting from the petrochemical industry present in skin care and capillary care and the presence of the media with regard to matters of natural personal care contribute to the growing popularity of organic products. The entire non-food segment has reached more than 1,8 billion dollar US, a growth of 9% compared to the previous year (Organic Trade Association of 2010 Organics poll of the industry). The existence of a very great range of natural products of personal care and their availability in the large variety of sale channels continue to stimulate demand. In addition to the traditional sales channels like the natural food stores and the organic food stores, these lines of goods are sold more and more by the supermarkets and the pharmacy chains. Market research agrees to saying that the natural skin care will also be a tendency in the future: an average growth rate of 11% is planned for the American market in the years to come (Kline & Company, Parsippany, NJ, USA). Manufacturers also see the future with great confidence and recognize the potential of a market in strong growth. The experts in particular see a keener demand for products with organic ingredients and raw materials obtained through fair trade. The authenticity of the manufacturers, their social commitment and their interest in sustainable development will also become increasingly important. [4]

So what about Quebec and Canada then? No data are available for organic cosmetics neither at Health Canada, nor at the CART [5]   or at the Institut de la statistique du Québec/ the Statistics Institute of Quebec.

According to information provided by Health Canada it is known that, “In Canada, the estimated volume of cosmetics sales represents more than one billion dollar per year and all of these products, including beauty products (make-up foundations, perfumes, creams, nail varnish) and the beauty products of toiletry (soaps, shampoos, deodorizers) must be in conformity with the provisions of the law and the above-mentioned regulations” [6] , but no data for the certified organic cosmetics are available and that explains itself by the fact that this field is not regulated yet in English Canada. Only in Quebec is the name “certified organic cosmetic” regulated but no figures are available either.

I found, on the other hand, some figures concerning organic agriculture and food in general.

“The organic sector of Canada has known a growth from 20 to 35 percent per annum, even in spite of the recession.

“Whereas other sectors have slowed down, some of our members have known their best year,” affirms Matthew Holmes, director of the Organic Trade Association of Canada.

The detailed value of the organic foodstuffs sold in Canada in 2008 was estimated at 2 billion dollars, according to a study of Agri-Food Canada. That is twice the sales turnover of 2006  [7] ».


In the light of this study one sees that Quebec is sitting in second position with regard to the number of organic producers after Saskatchewan and that this same number in Canada increased by roughly 1200 in 1992 to 3914 in 2009 and one can easily suppose that this number largely exceeds 4000 today.

The retail value of the organic foodstuffs sold in Canada in 2008 was estimated at 2 billion dollars which corresponds with an increase of 100% since 2006 (1 billion $) and the most important sector is the one of fruit and vegetables (41%) followed by drinks and prepared and packed products [8] .

“Since 2005, Quebec demand for organic products knows an annual growth of about 30% and thus exceeds the world annual growth which is estimated at 20%.

This increase in demand created an interest from the big players of the transformation and the industrial food distribution, like the supermarkets, which consider from now on that the market of organic food offers interesting prospects.

Consumer demand for organic products is higher than what our producers can offer. It has also become necessary to import from other countries, mainly from the United States, the majority of the organic foodstuffs which are sold in Quebec. This double reality owing to the fact that the large food distributors offer an increasingly wider range of organic products to us, are enough so that the   rankings “biological”, “ecological”, “organic” and other mentioning’s of the kind, abound”. [9]

One can see well that the interest of the consumers for organic consumption in Canada and Quebec is in strong growth as well as in Europe and in the United States and the sector of the certified or non-toxic organic cosmetics will follow its expansion as in the quoted countries. The only things that the consumers need are: alternative information and products.

And now the “question which kills” but that I cannot avoid:

Does a certified product guarantee us perfect harmlessness (innocuité)?

A response which will displease many manufacturers: not yet! Although strongly reduced compared to conventional industry, the allergenic character of certain substances remains present.

The consumer would ardently wish that one mentions the certifications which would get them a maximum of safety and that that would be it! But this is impossible because, apart from the requirements imposed by the specifications, all depends on the manufacturer and the formula of the product!

As we have seen in the chapter “ Labels and certifications ”, in general, certain certifications are more severe and the labelled products are more secure; others still allow some controversial ingredients, of synthetic origin which are in contradiction with the definition even of an organic product. Despite everything, their number remains very restricted and one does not stop to improve the formulas and the specifications.

Here are some examples:

Phenoxyethanol and parabens were banished on January 1, 2009.  Besides the nanoparticles which will disappear soon (in 1 to 2 years), there remains a great point of discord present in particular in  shampoos, liquid soaps, shower gels and conditioners: some surface-active chemicals, whose Cocamidopropyl Betaine (from coconuts)  particularly exposed to criticism (to which besides I “am officially certified allergic” and was voted 2004 allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society) because this raw material contains an element resulting from the petrochemical industry which does not at all go hand in hand with natural or organic commitments. On the red list one also finds  Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate .

Among all certifications, BDIH is the only one not to authorize Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine and NaTrue does not authorize Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate but authorizes Cocamidopropyl Betaine (see the “ Dirty List ” of the David Suzuki Foundation) present in practically all shampoos and authorized by ECOCERT and Cosmebio.

It is because of that that, in spite of the profusion of “natural” shampoos on sale everywhere, our list of shampoos and conditioners is rather short. I make it a point of specifying once more that the choice of the ingredients depends from one manufacturer to another and it is not because they are allowed by the specifications that they necessarily will use them . Which explains the need for a book like this one which guides the consumers and assists them to find themselves again even among the certified choices.

Among other problematic substances of organic certifications are the sarcosinats which present a graft of amino acid of synthesis. The formulas of products that contain them already will be tolerated until December 31, 2012 and until then, no new formulation can be carried out with these raw materials.

The desire of these manufacturers to be increasingly green is real and it is there that one sees the difference with the “green washing” and one notices the concrete changes in the formulas of the products. Examples: Cattier changed the formula of Dentargile, a re-mineralizing toothpaste with clay which contained Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and which does not contain it anymore. On the same basis, Logona and Melvita put on the market new shampoos without Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Druide, for example, seldom uses the maximum of ingredients of synthesis authorized by the specifications, to create odors during the use of essential oils a detailed attention is paid to limit the allergens either by the quantity or by the choice of oil according to the use of the product or the customers to whom it is addressed.

Another criticized aspect of certified organic products which concerns safety is the use of essential oils and alcohol (organic alcohol that is) as preservatives or perfumes, because the aromatic compounds of essential oils, like alcohol by the way, often have a rather high allergenic potential. Among these odoriferous substances one can mention eugenol, limonene, cinnamal, coumarins and the preservative benzyl alcohol. This is why, sometimes, when one wants to check on Skin Deep certain labelled products, one finds that they are rather badly rated, sometimes 6 and even 7 (see chapter “ Skin Deep and other tools for selection of products ”). These problematic ingredients are on the list of the 26 allergenic substances and they are obligatorily mentioned on the labels of the products manufactured in the European Union .

Industry claims that to condemn essential oils overall in the certified cosmetics products is by no means justified, because it is a question of proportioning.   But I already seem to have heard this controversy, of the negligible quantity…One calls this the boomerang-effect.

Therefore, check the ingredients with more attention and test the product before buying it, if you have a particularly sensitive skin.

Besides this, quality, respect for biodiversity, equity and sustainable development are the guiding lines of certified organic cosmetics. The beauty sector is more and more touched by this wave of committed beauty and this organic sensitivity as the growth of the market of organic cosmetics in the statistics shows above.

Is the organic cosmetic really reliable?

I did not find, at the time of my research, some scandalous “scoops” which would break the bond of confidence of the consumer vis-à-vis certifications and the real organic cosmetological industry. The TV programme Envoyé spécial of March 2005 has thrown a critical glance concerning essential oils and Afssaps (French Agency of safety of health products) found traces of phenoxyethanol and parabens in certain certified products but which were never sold here at home. There are all kinds of debates about this broadcast which one classified as being tendentious. As regards the presence of parabens, one knows that they were tolerated until 2009. Did one choose products which had not expired yet or did certain manufacturers clearly cheat?

Besides this debate to which the companies and certifications have had a right of reply, I did not really find articles or investigations seriously questioning certified organic products. Here and there there are some attacks in a few articles of French magazines coming from conventional industry but nothing serious.

Are organic cosmetic products less effective than conventional cosmetic products?

I must admit that when one makes one’s entry into the world of organic cosmetics as a neophyte, left to oneself like Little Red Riding Hood in the huge forest and with the “ Dirty List ” in one’s hand bag, in particular on the Quebec market and after 30 years of strong conventional consumption, it takes a lot of determination and motivation which depend more on the immune system than any another thing to remain there. But once one has adopted and one understands the stakes, it is like the evolution of conscience: one has passed on to a higher level of knowledge and one cannot return to what one did before. When one starts to explore, one finds that often the textures are different, the lipsticks are erased more easily; that the nail polish containing water is scaled more quickly; that the choices, the diversity and the fashion trends are missing and as regards plant colouring for the hair, the wonder product has not been invented yet, especially if you are a brunette approaching your fifties. If you do not jump immediately in the top-of-the-range kind of Dr. Hauschka (whose classification on Skin Deep besides is very surprising), I tell you that it takes a lot of determination to find satisfactory products from the point-of-view of harmlessness, effectiveness, prices and the pleasure which, however, exist. I spent a lot of time considering the cruel lack of information and guidance on this subject (not to speak about money) in the shops trying to unearth the rare pearls with my magnifying glass in my hand and sometimes the camera, because, moreover, the products often change and the ingredients are not the same ones any more. It should also be specified that there is a great difference (in Montreal at least) between the shops and the stores of natural products which offer beauty products and organic cosmetics and that the fact of shopping in this kind of stores guarantees you nothing at all for your safety. There are also stores where the advisers are competent and honest and then there are stores where the incompetence jumps you right into the eyes. It happened more than once to me that one insisted to sell another product to me instead of the one which I sought whereas I do not stop saying that one word which changes on the label of the product (“soft” for example in the place of “velvety”) also changes the list of the ingredients and possibly, therefore, the harmlessness of the product. As at the beginning of my research, I went to places which offer little quality because, as I said, this kind of trade is very unequal as for the choices and the quality of the products which one sells. I have been disappointed for a long time and some days completely exhausted until the day when I found the good stores. I also admit, in all sincerity, that in 2 and a half years’ time, I have seen major changes take place on the shelves of certain shops where I was not too embarrassed to complain, on several occasions, that one sold cosmetics there unworthy of a store of natural products. Although still minimal compared to France (an increase of 25% to 30% per year) or to Germany where one has been working in that field for more than 50 years, the sector of organic products in Quebec now offers reliable, effective, pleasant products to us and, for certain sectors, at accessible prices.

To obtain a certification, a certified organic cosmetics product must undergo many tests to guarantee its effectiveness which is not the case of the conventional industry which, as we saw in the chapter on “ Reading the labels ”, is subjected to no control and whose advertising slogans do not have a scientific base. The organic cosmetics industry is a world to be explored where I am certain that everyone will find the shoe that fits. The proof is that, elsewhere in the world, consumers have made their choice.  Two things are however essential: to go to shop at the right place and when you do not find the products that you seek, ask, demand even that they be brought to you. The majority of the owners of these shops will be glad to be informed, because considering the variety of the products which are sold in this kind of trade they do not always have the personnel specialized in cosmetics.

Certain department stores of traditional commerce or pharmacies try to create “small islands of health” among the conventional products but the attempts remain timid and the products are drowned by those of conventional industry, the very restricted choices and the certification which is not yet a criterion of selection in the choice of their products.

Some pioneers of committed beauty distinguish themselves in Quebec, by manufacturing or by the choices and the selection of the quality products which they offer to the consumers.

No, the world of organic cosmetics is not perfect but if one still wonders what to choose between the organic or the chemical one misses vision as a society, which one cannot allow.

Are there secure and effective cosmetics but which are not certified?

It should be known that to obtain a certification costs a lot of money to the manufacturer and that certain companies, small SME, do not have the means of offering it even if they already comply with the rules stipulated by the specifications. The appearance of certain private labels, paying and not very transparent, is also regrettable and several manufacturers refuse to adhere to them.

There are many good products from the point of view of harmlessness and effective while at the same time not certified (besides, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them on Skin Deep) and we have retained several of them in this Guide of products of hygiene, beauty and the non-toxic cosmetics .  It is however necessary to redouble prudence and when the product is not listed by Skin Deep, GoodGuide or this Guide of products of hygiene, beauty and the non-toxic cosmetics , it is necessary to check the harmlessness of the ingredients one by one, with Skin Deep or the list of Rita Stiens if you are more permissive. In the United States as in English Canada, the term “ organic cosmetic ” is not legally regulated, you will especially find “natural-beauty” products but for which, considering there are no specifications, one must rely on the conscience of the manufacturer.

It happens rather often that these products are manufactured by the same companies which have already certified products and who do often have natural bases and non- or less toxic ingredients. The products resulting from conventional cosmetics do not conform to this pattern and although there are some (those registered in this Guide of non-toxic  hygiene, beauty and cosmetics   producs under the heading “At the drugstore”), it is rather seldom that one finds things coming from this industry which one can use in a completely secure way.

But one should not generalize, because certain companies like Clarins which bought Kibio in 2007 or l’Oréal which acquired Sanofolre in 2006 continue to produce conventional products but also invest in the industry of organic cosmetics. Other companies make efforts and develop their own organic product line like Origins which is a subsidiary of Estée Lauder or Nuxe which is a range belonging to Occitaine. And finally, certain companies as Phyto try to improve their products quite simply. One thus needs, like always, to go product by product.

Are products of hygiene and of beauty and cosmetics more expensive than those resulting from conventional industry?

Sometimes. If for products of care (creams, lotions) prices are often equivalent, for make-up, capillary products and products of hygiene such as soaps and toothpastes prices are definitively higher and that  explains itself by the quality of the ingredients used, the very high requirements of certification and the higher production costs.  In spite of the fact that certification has a cost, organic, in general, corresponds to a real basic need of the consumer who has had enough of strawberries the size of an egg, fruits where the pips are banished and of plastic lawns. According to a TNS SOFRES-PLANTE SYSTEM poll carried out in 2006 near 897 25 year-old women and older, 43% of them said they were ready to use an organic product to replace their usual product. In the same way, according to Ève Démange, of 400 women of more than 20 years old, 9/10 declared themselves allured after having tested them. [10]

In Quebec, contrary to other European countries where there is no difference in price compared to the conventional products (see statistics above), the purchase of organic cosmetics products is often a choice of life, beyond the monetary considerations, like local or ecological buying. But the attraction for the natural products and an ecological lifestyle has never been so strong and changes of price and distribution should occur in the years to come.

The sale of organic cosmetics products in the supermarkets in Europe proposes prices increasingly attractive and competitive and the number of manufacturers does not stop increasing and offering new products to the consumers.

For food consumption, in particular fruits and vegetables, the price gap between certified organic products and those conventional is reduced more and more. And on this subject here are some statistics in France:

The most consumed organic products [11] :

  • Organic grocery products are located in 4th position. But… at the end of 2010, 79% of those questioned still judge the price of organic too high!In the United States (statistics for May 2011)The organic share of the market has more than tripled, growing from 1,2% to 3,7% in ten years. The organic sector increased almost 8% to 28,6 billion dollars in 2010. Fruits and vegetables, the segment with the strongest growth of the sales turnover, reached 10,6 billion dollars per barrel – an increase of 11,8% over 2009. The sales of organic milk increased by 9% (Organic Trade Association 2011 Organics Poll of the industry). The American consumer has clearly changed his shopping practices in the last 30 years: 84% of the customers adopt a critical attitude concerning the quality of food. The American citizens also feel a greater appetite for organic products: three out of four people questioned buy organic food, and 27% buy organic and natural products which represent more than one quarter of their annual purchases. That is 7% more than last year (Food Trends Shopping Tracker 2010 Poll). [12]


Organic cosmetics are they ecological and responsible at the same time?

When one begins to understand the world of cosmetics one reduces consumption automatically. Many products will disappear from your drawers after having understood not only their dangerous nature but also their superfluity. While you will empty the racks of the cupboards in the bathroom, I can guarantee you that you will (secretly) weep over the wasted money.  When the hair is in good health because one washes it with a good shampoo and one treats it with oil of argan, one does not need a product which gives shine. There is not real need for a cream for the hands, another for the feet and a third for the body with three different containers. Shea butter , a pure gift of nature, is a master key with virtues which exceed by far any cream with extract of… or containing… and which contains 90% of water! I do not preach (and neither do I practise) voluntary simplicity nor the lack of the desire to look elegant, but the number of products in my bathroom dropped by more than half since I  began to understand the stakes and which were its risks; anyway, the prices for certain products (especially in make-up) will slow down our expenditures and in the organic world, you will find that the products concentrate more on basic, real care, and that one does not put much energy into inventing and creating new needs, which is a practise very much in fashion in our consumer societies.

Several companies choose to write the necessary information directly on the container of the product to thus avoid over-packaging and the paper note and the companies are forced to use, if available, containers of matter which can be recycled.

Kibio spent two years of research before inventing “the infinite glass”, the jar which can be recycled ad infinitum , and their lids are made of aluminum which can be recycled also.

Certain brands like Couleur Caramel even choose an ecologically recycled wrapping which can be recycled but all of this can cause an “aesthetic” shock especially if before one has passed through the ground floor at the Bay…

One often sees in cosmetics guides or in magazines which present beauty products that packing, the container, is a serious criterion among the criteria of appreciation of the product. In other words, one chooses a product of care or beauty because of its presentation, that we are completely blind and without understanding and that we are caught like butterflies in the nets and the strategies of the sales and marketing departments… Is it necessary that we all are “granolas” or patients to have a little more judgement and understanding vis-à-vis consumption?

The very concept of an organic cosmetic is founded on ethical and ecological principles like fair trade, the safeguarding of ecosystems, the respect of biodiversity, a sustainable agriculture, the use of less energy-guzzling manufacturing processes.

The cultures of the organic plants are automatically ecological because they are developed in the respect of nature and controlled by the certifying organizations. Here are some other ecological aspects of certified organic cosmetics:

º Certain pumps are made of a mixture of several plastics to avoid certain components during manufacture which could be detrimental for the environment.

º The obligation to choose a plastic which can be easily recycled, no matter the region where the product is sold.

º The obligation to choose containers having a low mass for thus decreasing the CO² impact during transport.

º To use a system of bottle return for the large sizes of sale and especially in bulk.

º When the products allow it, offer a system of refill, for example the balsams for the lips, deodorants and several products of make-up are refillable.

º The use (in its first stage at this moment) of the compostable fibre.

º The printing on the containers with plant and biodegradable anchors.

I would say in conclusion that the ecological, ethical and fairness aspects have for a long time been the guiding principles of small militant companies. Today, the phenomenon takes more and more importance and it are the consumers who make things move, they influence companies in a positive or negative way, because when a company is not committed in its environment, the pressure of the consumers risks to oblige it there. A good example is GoodGuide [13]   which gives grades to the manufacturers not only for the healthiness (harmlessness) of their products but also for their commitment in the community and in society.

I admit that the ecological aspect and the commitment of the manufacturers are criteria which I would have liked to take more into account in the selection of the products of this Guide of non-toxic hygiene, beauty and cosmetics products but the average techniques are insufficient and the workload did not allow it to me.



[1] ↑ Source(s), Les chiffres de la consommation responsable – édition 2010 / Évolutions et tendances depuis 2006 / Graines de changements .- in : Mes courses pour la planète , 01/04/2011, 27p. – On ligne on the site Mes courses pour la planète.

[2] ↑

[3] ↑ Source :

[4] ↑

[5] ↑  Council of reserved names and of developing terms

[6] ↑  In fact, it is 5.4 billion dollars according to the latest statistics

[7] ↑ Source:

[8] ↑ Source : Etude The Canadian Organic Sector by Laura Telford et Matthew Holmes

[9] ↑ Fondation du Barreau du Québec, Aliments biologiques, Organismes génétiquement modifiés, Aliments issus du commerce équitable . 2011, p.7

[10] ↑ Les cosmétiques biologiques à la loupe , p 11, chapitre 3, Le marché des cosmétiques bio.

[11] ↑ Source:

[12] ↑ Source:

[13] ↑  To read more in the chapter “ Skin Deep and other tools…

3 thoughts on “Some questions about the organic cosmetics industry and the certifications

  1. Hi I am Economics student from UK who is currently doing project in forecasting organic cosmetics sales for 2013-2017 therefore I require annual data of the sales from 1999-2012. Would you be able to point me out as to where to find downloadable data for it? Thank you

  2. Organic Monitor is the best source, however, we have to pay for some informations. I will also send you by email some links I used when I wrote this Guide. Good luck to you and send us your work when you’ll finish!

  3. Hello

    I am also doing some Markey Research for the Organic Cosmetics Industry. Would you be able to send me those links as well.

    You have put together a very informative article. I am very glad to have found it!

    Thank you

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