It has been 11 years since I started working on the concept of certified “organic” cosmetics. In Europe they have multiple standards and literally thousands of certified product. Where are we here in the US? Nowhere. The NOP is not designed to deal with chemicals (in spite of having certified multiple synthesized chemicals) and certainly can’t sanction the use of synthesized preservatives. We don’t really have a functional certification program. What constitutes a functional program?
TRANSPARENCY – the process should be clear and understandable to the participants and to the public.
RESPONSIVENESS – this is a young industry, any standard needs to be sufficiently responsive that when we learn something new or conditions change, the standard can be adapted in reasonable time and with reasonable effort. RIGOR – the standard needs to 1) continuously improve and 2) be tough enough that it meets the consumer idea of an “organic cosmetic”.
CREDIBILITY – the certifiers offering the standard need to have enough understanding of cosmetic chemistry, chemical manufacturing, and the laws governing the manufacturing and sale of these products that they are trustworthy.
The NSF Org. cosmetics program has been singled out by Whole Foods as its choice for standards and yet it does not seem to meet many of the criteria above. Consumers have no access to the standard (well – they can spend 100.00 and buy it). It is very cumbersome to change and so not responsive. It is not especially rigorous – there is no internal mechanism to review ingredients by experts before they are added to the allowed list and they don’t actively communicate with consumers. Finally – QAI continues to ignore the fact that they need to hire a chemical engineer (like EcoCert did) – so credibility? Not so much.
They are looking at chemicals with no one on staff who is trained in how chemicals are manufactured. The continuing disconnect in this arena is that the cosmetics are made from chemicals. Whether people realize of not – even water is a chemical, H2O. And we all know that water can be contaminated by all sorts of nasty things. Until the retailers and organic NGOS support multiple private standards to compete for the respect and trust of the consumers, the US will continue to lag behind Europe when it comes to a functional organic cosmetic certification program. See? Like I said, how ridiculous is this?