Green cosmetic labels (ecolabels), an overview on the most influential ones


Barbara Olioso
MRSC, The Green Chemist Consultancy, United Kingdom


Consumers desire for natural and organic cosmetics is growing, however there are a lot of grey areas in relation to green cosmetics claims and consumers do not have the skills to distinguish what is really natural and what is not.  Ecolabels can provide a third party verification for green claims inspiring a higher level of trust in certified cosmetics. Given the increasing number of ecolabels available, in this article I shall review what I consider the most relevant ones, Cosmos, Natrue and the ISO 16128, looking at the key differences and feasability formulations wise.

The global market for natural and organic cosmetics is worth 10.2 billion USD and growing by about 5-6% per year (source Ecovia Market Intelligence). Additionally and proportionately, as consumers have a growing desire and demand for natural and green beauty products, so grows their confusion due to unregulated green claims and branding. Claims such as “parabens free” accompanied by a list of natural key ingredients and a “natural look” often translates into natural and environmentally friendly in the consumers’ minds.

Yet, most consumers are not equipped to understand the complexity behind cosmetic ingredients, and therefore the common choices available to them are limited to; using online resources, making their own beauty products, or going for a certified cosmetic.

Some may say there are too many certifications; however, certifications do provide a third party verification about the green claim behind a product, something valuable in a market where consumers are at the mercy of the greenwash tricksters.