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Organic Body Care Standards

The different organic certifying bodies and how they operate.

Generally, if a product has one of the organic body care certifications below it is considered an organic product. Products that claim to be organic without having one of these certifications are technically not an organic product unless every ingredient in the product is made from certified organic food/agricultural ingredients (making it organic by default).

Standard Published Comments
USDA Organic LogoUSDA Organic
USA
2005 The strictest of organic standards because it is really a food standard. Requires 95% organic content to use logo. Disallows synthetic preservatives and most chemical processing of ingredients.
NSF LogoNSF
USA
2009 NSF is one of the first US organic standards to emerge after USDA for cosmetic manufacturers. NSF requires a minimum of 70% of all ingredients (excluding water) to be organic to use its “made with organic” claim. Allows a broader array of preservatives and chemical processes than USDA.
OASIS LogoOASIS
USA
2008 Oasis was created by a number of US beauty manufacturers and competes with the NSF standard. Oasis requires 85% of all agricultural ingredients to be organic. Allows an even broader array of preservatives than NSF, and similar chemical processes to NSF.
Natrue LogoNaTrue
European Union
2008 NaTrue is a new non-profit standard from Europe started by German organic beauty manufacturers. It created a 3 star system to segregate “natural cosmetics” from “natural cosmetics with organic content” from “organic cosmetics”. NaTrue 3-star requires 95% of all agricultural ingredients to be certified organic. 2-star requires 70%. Maximum of 5-15% (depending on the product category) of content can be from Natrue’s acceptable synthetic list.
COSMOS
European Union
2009 COSMOS is the first European Harmonized Standard for Organic beauty created by the first 6 EU organic beauty certifiers. COSMOS requires 95% of agricultural ingredients to be organic. 20% of total product by weight must be organic – including water. Allows a maximum of 5% synthetic content.
BDIH LogoBDIH
Germany
1995 Though called a natural body care standard, BDIH requires manufacturers to use organic content wherever possible. It defines “where possible” as being available in sufficient quantity and quality, and defines which plants fall into this category by default. Therefore, it is possible for a product to have 0% organic content and still be BDIH certified. BDIH also maintains a member’s only list of acceptable ingredients that can be used in its products. BDIH was a forerunner by creating the world’s first organic body care certification.
Soil Association LogoSoil Association
United Kingdom
2002 Soil Association requires all of its certified products to show the organic percentage on the package. For a product to be called organic it must be 95% organic. For a product to state “made with organic X” it must be a minimum of 70% organic. Soil Association excludes water in this calculation, but if water is used to create an ingredient (such as a floral water) the weight of the water in contrast to the weight of the plant being used determines its organic percentage. This method precludes manufacturers from manipulating their organic content levels by using organic floral waters to boost their organic percentage.
Cosmebio Logo Cosmebio
France
2002 Requires 95% of all agricultural ingredients to be organic. 10% of total product by weight (including the weight of water) must be organic. Allows up to 5% synthetic content. Cosmebio is only available to French manufacturers, and is certified by Eco-cert. Eco-cert is available to manufacturers all over the world.
Eco-Cert LogoEco-Cert
France
2002 Requires 95% of all agricultural ingredients to be organic. 10% of total product by weight (including the weight of water) must be organic. Allows up to 5% synthetic content.
AIAB/ICEA LogoAIAB / ICEA
Italy
2003 Does not require a minimum organic content level. Water is not considered in the organic content. Maintains an extensive list of ingredients not permitted in organic cosmetics.
Biogarantie LogoBiogarantie
Belgium
2004 Follows similar rules to Eco-Cert.
NASAA LogoNASAA
Australia
2005 NASAA is a food ceritification body similar to the Soil Association that has also developed a standard for beauty. NASAA restricts numerous synthetic ingredients and processes used in cosmetics.
Biocosc LogoBiocosc
Switzerland
2006 Requires 95% of all agricultural ingredients to be organic. 10% of total product by weight (including water in the weight) must be organic. Allows up to 3% synthetic content.

How does organic body care certification work?

Each organic certification body creates a set of rules that a product and manufacturer must meet in order to be certified. These rules typically define things like:

  • What the minimum % of organic content is required
  • What % of synthetic (preservatives, petrochemicals, fragrances, etc.) content is acceptable, if any
  • What ingredients a product can and/or cannot be made with
  • What processes can be used in the creation and/or processing of ingredients
  • How water is factored in organic % calculations

As part of the certification process, the manufacturer must have their ingredients and processes regularly audited by a third-party organic certifier to ensure it is complying with all the rules of the standard.

Organic body care standards are, in essence, similar to organic food standards. Organic food standards today are government-controlled and harmonized (standards from differing countries are compatible with each other and have very similar requirements).

Today in most countries you cannot represent a food product as “organic” if it isn’t third party certified to be so. Organic body care standards are not government controlled at this point. This is why you may see confusing labelling in the realm of organic beauty. Similar to foods, organic body care certification today is a product-level certification as opposed to an ingredient-level certification (think “organic spaghetti sauce” vs. “organic tomatoes”).