Well done Alice Hart Davis for your article on the confusing muddle that is the organic cosmetics market in the UK. It is no wonder that the certified organic cosmetics market declined last year* while sales of cheaper skincare brands** which are labelled as “organic”, but aren’t certified, remained buoyant. Consumers are being conned and we need urgent action.
Essential Care has long been campaigning for much better regulation to protect consumers. In the UK, unlike organic food, there are no legal standards for organic beauty products. As a result, some companies choose to label a product as 'organic' even if it only contains 1% organic ingredients or if it contains potentially hazardous substances.
However, in the US, a product labelled ‘Organic’ must contain at least 70% organic ingredients – a law which is currently resulting in over 20 top organic beauty brands facing legal action over misleading labelling. And in France, the French equivalent of the advertising standards agency recently introduced legislation that requires any cosmetics labelled as organic to either be certified as such, or to be made from 100% organically grown ingredients.
When we launched Essential Care in 2003 we were one of the first companies to make skincare certified to Soil Association organic standards. We still voluntarily certify all of our skincare and makeup to these standards. Following campaigns by us, the Organic Trade Board and other genuine organic skincare companies, more beauty brands are voluntarily getting certified too. But there are still a number of rogues – who not only don’t certify their products and production processes, but also print copycat symbols on their packaging advertising ‘claiming certified organic ingredients’ that make you think you’re buying a certified product. Worst of all it’s perfectly legal to do so.
So look for the Soil Association symbol (or another symbol that you know is genuine) to guarantee that the product has been checked and meets the strictest standards for organic purity and integrity.
*Source: Soil Association Market Report 2011
**I’d love to name names, but I won’t, in the hope that one day, these brands will clean up their act.