Welcome to the clean sustainable beauty third party official certification organizations Spotlight Series!
For each post in this series, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the third-party verification programs that matters, like EWG Verified, MADE SAFE® , Leaping Bunny, and more. We’ll go over what each organization tests for, how trustworthy the organization is, and how their certification benefits you, the consumer.
The goal is to equip you with all the information you need to make educated choices about your clean beauty purchases.
Independent Third-Party Certification: Why it Matters
The beauty and wellness industry is full of lofty claims about wholesomeness and health. Unfortunately, most of these products aren’t carefully regulated.
This means companies can make claims about their product without being held accountable.
That’s where third-party certifications come in. They vet companies and their products so you can make well-informed purchasing decisions without fear.
Their purpose is to help you verify a brand’s clean, green beauty and sustainability claims, helping you become your own best advocate.
But every third-party organization tests for different things. That’s why it’s important to know what a certification seal actually means.
To start, we’re beginning with a deep dive into one of the better-known third-party verification organizations: EWG Verified.
What is EWG Verified?
EWG stands for “Environmental Working Group.” It’s a nonprofit made up of scientists, policy experts, communications experts, lawyers, and programmers. EWG’s goal is to support consumers and families in their search for safe, healthy products for their everyday lives.
To do this, they track research on chemical safety, highlighting chemicals and ingredients they deem unsafe. Using this information, they provide resources and certifications for those looking for a second opinion about product safety.
They provide certifications for personal care products (including beauty, skincare, makeup, haircare, and fragrance), cleaning products, and baby care.
What Does it Mean to be EWG Verified?
EWG verification indicates a product meets EWG’s strict safety, environmental, and societal standards, including containing no ingredients they deem dangerous or concerning. Their qualifications are three-pronged. In order to be EWG verified, a product must:
- Not contain any ingredients on EWG’s “Unacceptable” ingredients list, which encompasses health, ecotoxicity, and contamination concerns.
- Meet EWG’s standards for ingredient disclosure on the label. This includes ingredients companies aren’t legally obligated to disclose, such as fragrance ingredients.
- Be made using EWG-approved manufacturing practices to ensure product safety.
Is EWG Trustworthy?
As one of the most well-known and prominent third-party verification entities, it’s no wonder EWG has drawn some criticism.
EWG receives a significant amount of funding from the organics industry. For some, this is a concern, since EWG tends to favor organic products over conventional ones. Some people think this causes unnecessary distrust of conventional products.
Cautious Safety Standards
One of EWG’s common criticisms comes from toxicologists who claim EWG overstates the danger of certain ingredients. EWG’s Skin Deep Database has been criticized for being inconsistent and sometimes relying on shaky science or research, including sometimes evaluating ingredients based on animal studies with “few implications for humans.”
EWG tends to err on the side of caution, rather than adopting an “innocent until proven guilty” approach with chemicals. They also give preference to natural products over those containing lab-produced chemicals, even if those chemicals haven’t been shown to cause harm.
This doesn’t necessarily mean an EWG certification is or isn’t reliable. What it does mean is you should know what factors they consider when rating a product. That way, you can make an educated choice for yourself and your family.
Just like with any third-party verification, don’t look to them as your sole source of information.
How Does an EWG Verification Benefit You?
With EWG’s strong preference for caution and organic products, looking for EWG-verified products gives you an excellent roadmap for natural products that are safe to use. Their seal gives you a sense of whether or not a product is safe, from a very wary standpoint. If you prefer to err on the side of caution with your beauty and skincare products, that might be exactly what you’re looking for.
In addition to their well-known Skin Deep Database, EWG provides a wealth of educational resources for consumers. Their consumer guides cover topics like pesticides in product, food ingredients, and tap water safety. While they’re best-known for their verification and product databases, EWG can be a valuable resource for other areas of your life as well.
- Third-party verifications give consumers a way to choose products that are actually safe, rather than those that simply claim to be safe.
- EWG verification means a product meets EWG’s strict standards for product safety, eco-friendliness, and manufacturing integrity.
- Don’t rely solely on one third-party verification organization. Remember, every system of verification has its own pros and cons.