Certified Natural Cosmetics: Quality Guarantee or Marketing Tool?

What is natural cosmetics?

Wikipedia describes natural cosmetics as cosmetics whose ingredients are predominantly of natural origin. Although the term is not uniformly and legally defined, certain ingredients are excluded in natural cosmetics.

With the trend towards growing environmental awareness, interest in organic and natural cosmetics has grown steadily in recent years. In addition, it is primarily about skin-friendly ingredients and formulations, environmentally friendly production, biodegradability, fair working conditions for producers, preservation of traditional small farms and the ban on animal testing. This is exactly where the problem lies:

Private-sector natural cosmetics seals that define natural cosmetics on the basis of their own criteria do not take into account, or only partially, these criteria listed above.

No uniform natural cosmetics standard

Each seal for certified natural cosmetics defines its own standards, including in some cases a percentage of permitted petrochemical ingredients up to a maximum of 5%. Common natural cosmetics seals are, for example, Natrue, Cosmos / BDIH, Demeter, Ecocert, Icada or NCS. They have differently strict requirements, the comparability of which is hardly possible for consumers. The common seals for certified natural cosmetics only have a few minimum standards in common:

    • Ban on parabens in preservatives
    • Ban on genetically modified ingredients
    • Ban on silicones
    • Ban on synthetic dyes and fragrances

Skin tolerance problems

None of the certifications take into account the skin tolerance of the ingredients. This should be an absolute prerequisite for whether an ingredient is more or less suitable for natural cosmetics.

  • Example aggressive surfactants
    Sodium Coco Sulphate, the surfactant most commonly used in organic shampoos and organic shower gels, is partly of natural and partly of petrochemical origin. Sodium Coco Sulfate is known to have an irritating, skin-irritating and drying effect on sensitive skin and scalp. This washing-active substance corresponds to all common natural cosmetics certifications - not least because large companies have exerted economic pressure on natural cosmetics certifiers.
  • Example preservatives
    Preservatives such as potassium sorbate (INCI: Potassium Sorbate), sodium benzoate (INCI: Sodium Benzoate) or benzoic acid (INCI: Benzoic Acid) are synthetically produced as "nature-identical" ingredients. They correspond to the usual natural cosmetics certifications, although they have an increased skin-irritating potential and lead to more skin reactions in the case of a sensitive disposition.
  • Example alcohol
    Although alcohol (INCI: alcohol) damages the skin barrier, has a drying effect and is also unsuitable for oily skin, it corresponds to all common natural cosmetics seals without quantity restrictions - also in facial care.
  • Example fragrances
    Although fragrances with their allergens have an increased irritation potential for sensitive skin, they are still approved in facial care for certified natural cosmetics.
  • Example emulsifiers
    Emulsifiers not only combine oils and water in an emulsion, but they are also stored in the skin. There they continue to emulsify. They dissolve the skin's own fats from the skin barrier so that they are rinsed out of the skin the next time it comes into contact with water (washout effect). This applies not only to synthetic, petroleum-based PEG emulsifiers, but also, to a lesser extent, classic emulsifiers made from esterified vegetable fatty acids according to the standards of certified natural cosmetics.

Natural cosmetics seal and economic interests

The common natural cosmetics seals are offered by purely private licensors. As lobby associations, the licensors represent the economic interests of the companies and / or work in a profit-oriented manner themselves. In order to use one of the many natural cosmetics seals, the certification must be purchased from the manufacturers of the products against annual license fees. The licensors argue with the advertising effect of their natural cosmetics seal, which is supposed to justify the license fees and the considerable additional administrative effort for the companies through supposedly increased sales figures. Certification as an advertising measure is reflected in a higher sales price - especially for smaller companies. It does not in any way benefit the quality of the products.

In addition to private natural cosmetics certifications, there has been an ISO standard for organic and natural cosmetics since 2017. However, the ISO standard 16128 is not legally binding either and does not contain any detailed specifications. According to this, cosmetic products are considered natural cosmetics if they contain at least 95% natural ingredients - including the water content. Since a share of 5% petrochemical ingredients is also permitted according to the ISO standard for natural cosmetics, it seems to be more about the "good feeling" that is supposed to be conveyed to the consumer. A possible suspicion of “greenwashing” is not unfounded here.

So what really characterizes high-quality natural cosmetics?

Natural cosmetics should focus on first-class quality and high-quality formulas with optimized skin tolerance, organically produced and as fair-traded as possible vegetable. In detail this means:

As long as there is no appropriate uniform natural cosmetics standard, we recommend that you take a close look at every single ingredient in your cosmetics. The ingredients list on the product label shows all ingredients in descending order of quantity. The Codecheck app is particularly suitable for assessing the ingredients.

At myrto you will find a German explanation for every Latin pharmaceutical INCI term in the description of the products. All myrto products were given top ratings by Codecheck without exception. That means: According to current scientific studies, every single ingredient used by myrto is 100% recommended for your skin and also for the environment. myrto natural cosmetics far exceed the common seal standards.