The trend towards natural cosmetics in gaining momentum as a result of increased consumer awareness. Though many cosmetic products claim to be ‘natural’, however, these claims are often misleading to consumers. To avoid this confusion, BDIH, a federation of German manufacturers, has created the “Certified Natural Cosmetics” Seal. Only manufacturers that meet the set criteria are allowed to use this seal on their products.
BDIH is the Federation of German Industries and Trading Firms for pharmaceuticals, health care goods, food supplements and cosmetics. It was set up in 1951 and is located in Manheim, Germany. It has organised together more than 440 producers and distributors of cosmetics and natural cosmetics, food supplements, nutritional food, over-the-counter medicines and medical devices.
In 1996, the BDIH set up a working group with leading natural cosmetics producers to set up guidelines for a private control system for natural cosmetics. The certification process based on these guidelines came into operation in the year 2000. Since then, a number of manufacturers have applied for certification, with products covering nearly all categories of cosmetics.
Increasing concerns over cosmetics industry practices
The European cosmetics industry generated a business of roughly $50 billion in the year 2000. It is a large source of employment and also makes a significant contribution towards science through research and development. However, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the dark side of the cosmetics industry. Two of the major areas of concern are animal testing and the use of genetically modified ingredients.
Animal testing has come under fire as an inhumane practice from animal rights groups and concerned citizens. This subject is being hotly debated among animal rights groups, consumer groups, scientists and researchers, and governmental bodies. The issue here is complex – though testing on animals for adverse reactions is cruel, there need to be viable alternatives to animal testing to make sure that cosmetic products are safe for human use. Though alternatives do exist, more research is required before animal testing can be completely stopped. The EU has passed a regulation that will ban the use of animal testing in cosmetic products by 2009.
Another issue of concern for consumers is the use of genetically modified ingredients in cosmetics, which may be potentially harmful. Many of the long term effects of genetically modified ingredients are not known and therefore harmful effects by using cosmetics with these ingredients could also be suspect.
Did you know?
- Every year millions of animals die as a result of testing
- The Draize test, used in cosmetic testing, involves putting caustic substances into the eyes of conscious albino rabbits to test them for eye tissue damage causing redness, swelling, ulceration, discharge and haemorrhaging in the rabbits.
- There are alternatives to the Draize test that include the use of cell cultures, human and animal corneas from eye banks, corneal tissue cultures, frozen corneas supplied by hospitals, in vitro testing and the Eytext test
- The lethal dosage (LD) tests are used to determine the amount of a substance that will kill a predetermined ratio of animals. Common reactions to LD tests include convulsions, vomiting, paralysis and bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth or rectum.
Why choose “Certified Natural Cosmetics”?
Consumers who buy products with the “Certified Natural Cosmetic” Seal can be sure that the manufacturers have met all the BDIH guidelines and are not misrepresenting their products.
“Certified Natural Cosmetics” Guidelines
The guidelines set up by BDIH have been created with the intention of defining natural cosmetics in a clear and concise manner, keeping in mind the consumer expectations of the products. The guidelines are:
- Raw Materials: The use of botanical and organic raw materials is encouraged. Raw materials should be used from controlled biological cultivation or controlled biological wild collections, taking into account quality and availability.
- Animal Protection: No animal testing is allowed – not at the development, manufacture or product testing stage. Animal testing cannot be outsourced to another company. Raw materials and ingredients not on the market before 01.01.1998 may only be used if they have not been tested on animals. (This does not include ingredients that were tested by third parties who were neither prompted by the ordering party nor associated with the ordering party by law or contract). Ingredients on the market that were tested on animals after 01.01.08 are excluded. Also, the use of animal by-products from dead vertebrates such as mink oil, tortoise oil, animal fats, animal collagen and fresh cells is not allowed.
- Mineral ingredients: The use of inorganic salts and mineral ingredients is generally allowed.
- Restricted ingredients: For natural cosmetics, components can be used if they are extracted through hydrolysis, hydrogenation, esterification, transesterification, or other crackings and condensations from fats, oils and waxes, lecithin, lanolin, monosaccharides, oligosaccharides, polysaccharides, proteins and lipoproteins.
- Unacceptable ingredients: Synthetic colouring agents, synthetic fragrances, ethoxylated ingredients, silicones, paraffin and other petroleum products are not acceptable. The criterion for permissible fragrances is ISO Norm 9235
- Preservatives: Certain preservatives that are identical to the ones found in nature are acceptable. These are benzoic acid, its salts and ethyl esters, salicylic acid and its salts, sorbic acid and its salts and benzyl alcohol. When these preservatives are used, the product must be labelled “Preserved with …(name of preservative)”
- The use of radioactive radiation for the sterilisation of raw materials and their cosmetic end products is prohibited.
- Independent laboratory certification: An independent testing institute must verify that these criteria have been complied with. (Eco-control in Osterode, Germany)
- Additional points: The guidelines also include additional points that include full ingredient disclosure and the clear opposition to genetically modified ingredients. Furthermore, the guidelines support the use of environmentally responsible raw materials, packaging and manufacturing processes. The guidelines encourage social responsibility regarding employees, as well as fair trade with Third World suppliers of raw materials.
A list of manufacturers that offer BDIH certified products can be viewed at the following website: Producers of "Certified Natural Cosmetics"