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First National Standard for Natural Personal Care Products Around the Corner With Exclusive Commentary on How to Choose the Right Green Line for Your Clients

Posted: February 11, 2011

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The consumer’s desire for safe, healthy choices for food extends to what is used on the skin and in their environment. This desire has driven the need for organic and natural certification. The cosmetic industry first developed organic certification as a response to the food industry growth of organic produce. The organic certification of personal care products is still slowly evolving, but the consumer’s desire for efficacious anti-aging cosmetic products has not been met by certified organic products using the organic ingredients that are available at this time. There are a growing number of botanical or botanically derived ingredients that can meet the need for efficacious cosmetic products, but they are not certified organic. Using these ingredients, it is now possible to manufacture a natural cosmetic product that can meet the consumer’s needs.

Cosmetic product line choices for a spa require a certain degree of efficacy (such as anti-wrinkle/anti-aging), which are difficult to attain through the use of certified organic cosmetic products. Some efficacious products in a line may be organic while others cannot be. Choosing a natural line will give the spa a much greater choice and will be more likely to ensure product efficacy.

The criteria for choosing products for a spa should be twofold. No. 1 is usually efficacy, so clinical testing of the products should be available. No. 2, but not less important, is the safety of the products. The main driving force behind the choice for organic and natural is concern for health and safety. A natural or organic line of products will be easier to choose if it has been certified by a reputable certification body. In North America, Ecocert and the Natural Products Association are the most common choices for natural certification. USDA is the most common certification body for organic. If the product line is not certified, then the spa owner must do her homework with the help of a chemist who specializes in organic and natural cosmetics. Not all reputable brands of natural cosmetics will be certified because natural certification is in its infancy, but spa owners should not be misled by the use of the word "natural" in the brand’s marketing material. Natural certifications look at each ingredient in the product, the preservative system of each ingredient, the manufacturing processes of the ingredient as well as the finished product, along with many other criteria, so it is important to be advised by a chemist who knows this selection process. There are many other considerations when choosing a cosmetic product line, such as number of SKUs, pricing, etc., but natural cosmetic product lines have increased significantly in the last few years, so the choices are many. The cosmetic industry will rise to meet the consumer’s demands, which will allow the spa industry to do the same.

What natural certification body do you choose?

The natural certification of personal care products is an industry that is only in the development stage. Europe is ahead of North America in this regard, because most countries in Europe have their own organic certification body for personal care products and are now trying to amalgamate under COSMOS. European companies such as Ecocert and NATRUE are expanding internationally. North American certification bodies have been struggling to develop their own organic standards for personal care products, but are having a difficult time getting away from the food standards. The Natural Products Association is the first nonprofit company to develop natural standards for personal care products. NATRUE and NSF are in the process of developing their own standards for natural certification. It will be interesting to see where North America is in five years, but it will take at least this long for the dust to settle in the battle for the natural certification of personal care products. The battle for organic certification is still raging. At this time, there is no one certification body to recommend; just ensure that it is reputable and that you can agree with its guidelines when choosing a line for your spa.