Welcome back to the Independent Third-Party Verification Spotlight Series. In this series, we’re doing a deep dive into the different entities providing independent third-party testing. We’ve covered MADE SAFE® and EWG Verified. Today, we’re going over Ecocert’s different certifications, verification criteria, and whether you can trust them as a consumer.
Ecocert’s mission as an organization is to support companies using production processes that respect the environment, effectively manage energy and natural resources (water, air, and soil fertility), are socially responsible, and produce fantastic, safe products.
Since Ecocert started as an organic farming certification, they apply those similar principles to their other fields of expertise as they’ve expanded into other industries. They also provide training and consulting services to companies looking to adopt better sustainability and safety practices, which eco-conscious customers can certainly appreciate.
What is the Ecocert Certification?
Ecocert isn’t actually 1 certification; the organization manages a handful of certifications, which we’ll go into. But in general, Ecocert-certified businesses use a high standard of environmental and socially-conscious practices.
Ecocert issues certifications in food and agriculture, home care, textiles, forestry, and – the one we’re most interested in – cosmetics.
They have 2 cosmetics certifications:
- COSMetic Organic and natural Standard, or COSMOS, and
- COSMOS ORGANIC.
How Do the COSMOS Certifications Work?
To earn a COSMOS certification, companies are held to exacting standards of environmental-friendliness, from the ingredients list right down to the product packaging. Ecocert ensures all COSMOS-certified companies:
- Respect human health in their manufacturing processes
- Use “green” chemicals
- Use natural resources responsibly
- Respect biodiversity
- Refrain from using petrochemical ingredients such as parabens, phenoxyethanol, perfumes, and synthetic colors (except for some authorized preservatives)
- Never use GMOs
- Use recyclable packaging
COSMOS ORGANIC certification means companies must undergo a similar level of scrutiny as the regular COSMOS criteria. However, all COSMOS ORGANIC beauty products must also meet these stipulations:
- Of the plant products used in the product, at least 95% must be organic.
- At least 20% of the product’s total formula must be made of organic ingredients. For rinse-off products like cleansers and body washes, the threshold is only 10%. While that may not sound like much, keep in mind that substances like water and minerals aren’t considered “organic” because they aren’t derived from plant material. Water is usually a large component of cosmetics, which is why the threshold is set at only 20%.
To see if a specific company is COSMOS or COSMOS ORGANIC-certified, you can look them up on Ecocert’s directory.
Can You Trust a COSMOS Certification?
Clearly, Ecocert holds its COSMOS products to very strict standards. They have a strong preference for all-natural ingredients, which may be more important to some people than to others. However, that’s a personal decision that has more to do with preference than trustworthiness.
Some may balk at products only needing 20% of the total formula to be considered organic to earn a COSMOS ORGANIC certification. Depending on the product and your personal priorities, that may be plenty.
Others may want more organic ingredients in their products. Again, this is a personal choice.
How Does a COSMOS Certification Benefit You?
Ecocert’s COSMOS certifications offer consumers the peace of mind of knowing a trusted agency has looked thoroughly at a brand’s product line and deemed it to be safe. All COSMOS-certified products are of a natural origin, with few specific exceptions (like preservatives) allowed in small quantities.
All Ecocert products contain an average of 99% ingredients of natural origin, which will be a breath of fresh air for people looking for the most natural products possible.
And since Ecocert is an international company, their scope isn’t limited to brands from a specific country. However, there isn’t an easy way to browse a list of COSMOS-certified cosmetics brands, which limits its user-friendliness.
For those looking for all-natural cosmetics that meet strict, holistic standards, COSMOS certification can be a great way to filter out options. However, those who simply want to know their products are safe, and aren’t as concerned about whether they’re natural, may find other certifications more helpful.