June 1, 2019

The importance of certification for organic beauty products

soil association

I’ve previously written about green beauty, which within it covers many categories like vegan, cruelty-free and more (have a look at my previous post for more info). One of the regulating bodies for these products is The Soil Association. I attended a talk at the beautiful Bamford store off Sloane Avenue, where the topic was discussed as well as the development of the company, in order to support beauty and cosmetics brands. Currently, there are 400 brands that are certified organic within The Soil Association.

Soil Association is the larger certification body for organic that’s mostly known for the food certification part. Food has to be properly verified in order to be organic, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case with cosmetics, where ‘organic’ isn’t regulated. As little as 1% of a product can be organic for the brand to name it ‘organic’. This is why it’s absolutely essential to have proper certification.

The Soil Association Certification covers formulation and packaging for brands. They want full transparency. The first standard was set up in 2002.
They have three categories:
(A) Household items
(B) COSMOs standard is the cosmetic standard, to include beauty. Independent rigorously tested includes different bodies across the world (10-15 countries at the minute) to have a harmonised approach. Not tested on animals, no GMO, strict on palm oil and more. It is separated in (i) Organic and (ii) Natural categories.

The website makes it very clear as to what each certification means, and you can search for all the certified products here.

They are the highest standards in the UK. They encourage brands and consumers to look for that logo. In many areas higher regulations than EU standards. Once the brand is verified they go through every year and they also have a development officer on hand to help them.

The certification was developed in order to have a nationwide standard of quality.

The panel was set up by The Soil Association, with Sophie Morgan, press officer for the charity part of the company, Jasveet Jagdev head of product development and production at Bamford,  Christina Cheung, certification officer at Soil Association, Tabitha James Kraan, founder of Tabitha JK Haircare and Lilo Ask-Henriksen, health Consultant & eco-blogger.

Some statistics (provided by The Soil Association within the Organic Beauty & Wellness report):

-14% growth in organic beauty (8th consecutive year of double-digit growth)
-In 2018, the organic and natural health and beauty industry is worth £86.5m
-If you re-use something you save 70% CO2 and 45% water
-120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry
-Over 11,000 Certified organic and natural ingredients on the COSMOS database
-Over 10,000 Certified COSMOS products across 794 brands

“Sustainability stopped being optional for business”

Martin Sawyer

Tabitha James Kaan, has her own shampoo brand, that’s naturally and organically made. “Greenwashing is worse than ever as the consumers are more confused by nature”. She produces shampoo which as part of the washing category, it is the hardest category to certify as cleaning products are inherently the most toxic products.

“It takes something like 26 seconds for whatever you put on your scalp to reach your bloodstream. You wouldn’t put industrial floor cleaner on your head would you?” Tabitha said. She’s been doing this for 20 years and the industry has changed “I don’t do hair care as other people do. I think about how the hair functions, the body functions. At the end of the day, we make a difference for our health and the planet. It’s time to make those changes now. [..] Some brands include liquid plastics within their formulations. Look for polymers and copolymers in the ingredients and silicones”.

There’s a full list on their website in terms of ingredients, have a look here.

“We want to be very transparent with the consumer” Christina Cheung, Certification Officer at Soil Association said.
GOTS: the Global Organic Textile Standards is another certification they are developing.

“Looking for the logo makes it easier for the consumer to shop. It’s a simple step,” said Lilo Ask-Henriksen, Honey&Roots founder, who started by looking towards her own health and started her journey from organic food.

Jasveet Jagdev Head of Product Development and Production at Bamford said: “Packaging is the biggest challenge for brands. It’s a small change but what we’ve done is change from virgin plastic to post-consumer plastic.” Tabitha added, “there aren’t that many great solutions. Aluminum and glass aren’t as sustainable to produce but in the long term, they can be recycled. We do use post-consumer plastic as it’s already there. And we also have a plant-based plastic. And refillable aluminum packaging.”

Christina Cheung said: “sustainability may be a buzzword but it’s going to stick around. There is a quest for clarity. Consumers want to know more and that’s what certification is all about!”

Regarding recycling not every part of the product is recyclable. There needs to be more education about it. If we continue buying refillable products in recyclable packaging brands will eventually take note, so that’s definitely something to make a note of.

Ask questions. Demand more. Demand transparency. Show there is demand as a customer.

The Soil Association will be holding an Organic beauty and wellbeing week in September to encourage people to shop organic while looking for the Soil Association logos.

The next step for them is to focus even more on the organic household cleaning products, that are just efficacious as the non-organic traditional ones. It’s just a myth that organic cleaning products aren’t effective.

General tips of what you can do to change, how can you break it down and make a difference:
1) Multi-use products are really good.
2) If you are going to make a swap, maybe do it for the one product you used the most. Choose one thing and make a change!

When shopping, look for this logo:

Images courtesy of The Soil Association

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