With the beauty industry enjoying most growth in the natural and organic sector – which was worth almost £76 million last year in the UK alone – it is not surprising that many mainstream beauty brands are taking advantage of this with new nature-inspired launches, hoping to emulate the double-digit growth seen in the natural and organic sector. Such ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ is inevitably leading to an increase in ‘greenwashing’, and an appearance of many spurious claims on pack for products that contain very few natural and organic ingredients, and don’t meet the high standard of certified products.
Green beauty pioneers Weleda, Dr Hauschka, Lavera, Primavera and Logocos founded NATRUE in 2007, and when the NATRUE Label was created a year later these brands were amongst the first to carry the NATRUE seal on their products. Over the past decade these have been joined by many more companies and now (August 2018) more than 6,000 NATRUE certified products are available, from approximately 250 committed brands.
The NATRUE Label represents trust and authenticity for the consumer, setting the standard for what a natural and organic cosmetic should be. It’s a global seal, instantly recognisable wherever you are in the world - with brands from 32 different countries, from the USA to Japan and throughout the European market – that stands for quality and authenticity. So consumers can see at a glance whether a product is truly natural or organic.
NATRUE is a high quality standard, setting strict criteria for third-party certification. No synthetic fragrances, artificial preservatives including parabens, or microplastics are permitted. The NATRUE seal is also an assurance for the consumer that a product or ingredient is green in other ways: no genetically-modified ingredients, paraffin oils, silicones or petroleum-derived ingredients. The standard also sets requirements for the biodegradability of certain ingredients in rinse-off products to protect the environment, and a global ban on the use of its seal on products where animal testing is required.
In fact NATRUE is much more than just a label. In an officially undefined sector of a tightly regulated industry, greenwashing and questions regarding raw materials have become a major concern for consumers and manufacturers alike. Behind the scenes, this non-profit association has been speaking up on our behalf at an international level for over a decade.
NATRUE participates in and contributes to all relevant regulatory decision-making bodies such as the European Commission Cosmetics Working group, where NATRUE uniquely holds seat to promote and protect the natural and organic sector. NATRUE’s political contribution is important since a strict definition goes hand-in-hand with ingredients protection in order to ensure consumers the quality finished products they expect. In addition, NATRUE is involved in different projects in the fields of scientific research/innovation and regulatory affairs where it provides expertise. NATRUE actively plays a key role in addressing both challenges and opportunities in the natural and organic cosmetics sector.
Over the last decade, the green beauty sector has grown hand in hand with the rising focus on conscious and ethical consumerism. NATRUE’s Director General, Dr Mark Smith, recently took part in a lively panel discussion at the Love Natural show at London’s Olympia, examining what ‘Conscious Beauty’ means to consumers:
“As consumers we are increasingly drawn to making conscious beauty purchases – thinking about what we are buying before we buy it and how that reflects on our ethics and values. Transparency is a key component for this, for example if we are looking to buy a product based on its ethics – where its ingredients are sourced, how sustainable it is, or whether the people were treated fairly that produced those raw materials. This all forms part of our informed decision making process.”
“If we want to be assured that something has been verified as natural and organic, it has to meet some sort of meaningful criteria. This is why NATRUE is very much involved in regulatory decision-making, to ensure a level playing and advocate that any future regulatory definition of natural and organic cosmetics must be strict. In the absence of a legal definition of what constitutes a natural and organic cosmetic, the best thing to do is to look for a trusted logo, like the NATRUE seal, that is known to meet a high benchmark. We can’t just accept things at face value when packaging says a product is natural or organic, because there is a rather large spectrum of shades of green.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, these concerns are especially important for facial and body care products and less vital for wash-off products – shampoo and shower gel are rinsed off quickly so the concern about artificial ingredients is less significant. But increasingly we also need to be thinking about what happens to those rinsed off ingredients once they go down the drain and into our waterways and out into our oceans.
Natural and organic cosmetics are perceived as the safest long-term choice for us and for the planet.