Organic Consumers Association

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Many Natural & Organic Cosmetic Brands Falling Short of Marketing Claims Eco-Business

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page and our Coming Clean Campaign page.


New research finds few natural & organic cosmetic brands are living up to their marketing claims. In the first study of its kind, Organic Monitor assessed over 50 international brands of natural cosmetic products and ranked them in terms of their naturalness.

The Brand Assessment study involved a chartered chemist examining the ingredient composition of cosmetic products and classifying formulations according to their 'level of naturalness'. Certified organic cosmetics received the highest rating (9-10), pure natural cosmetics got 5-7 ratings, naturally inspired cosmetics got 2 rating, whilst conventional cosmetics got 1 rating.

A major finding is that the formulations of most natural brands are not meeting their marketing claims. Many companies claiming to have 'chemically-clean' cosmetics actually are falling foul of having contentious synthetic ingredients. Many such brands are classified as semi-natural or naturally inspired, even though they claim to be '100% natural'. Surprisingly, some organic cosmetic brands are given low 'naturalness' ratings; although their products contain certified organic ingredients, the formulations still have synthetic ingredients not common to natural and organic products.

The research highlights the importance of certification in creating a 'level playing field' for formulators. Natural & organic standards have tight guidelines on permitted and prohibited ingredients and encourage green formulations. Thus, brands with high levels of certified products received high 'naturalness' scores.

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