Cosmetic certifications: what do they really mean?

There’s something comforting about product certification; it’s our way of knowing that a third party has assessed that product and endorsed it. The Heart Foundation Tick, for example, has long been a campaigner on supermarket shelves approving everything from margarine to marinades. Certification is how companies legitimise their products. Those manufacturers that have them, will do anything to protect them.

The cosmetics industry until recently has had very little reason to achieve third-hand accreditations, mostly due to its inability to meet standards and criteria. However, the shift in public demand for natural and organic personal care products along with the establishment of product and lifestyle organisations have meant that products are more likely to be held up to closer scrutiny and lynched if manufacturer claims are not backed by certification.

This sentiment was echoed by Jeff Binder from the North American organic make-up retailer Saffron Rouge. A survey of 1,252 of its customers revealed that 77 per cent have trust and confidence in third party certification, whereas 72 per cent did not trust natural and organic claims made by brand owners.

So who are the main players in cosmetic endorsement and what does is mean if a product has been either registered or certified with them?

Choose Cruelty Free:  CCF is an Australian independent, non-profit organisation which actively promotes a cruelty-free lifestyle. They encourage producers and service providers to adopt a cruelty-free ethic and their criteria for accreditation is one of the most rigid of all accreditations.

CCF will not accredit a manufacturer if any of its products contain any ingredients that are:

  • Derived from an animal killed specifically for the extraction of that ingredient
  • Forcibly extracted from a live animal in a manner that occasioned pain or discomfort
  • Derived from any wildlife
  • That are by-products of the fur industry
  • That are slaughterhouse by-products of a commercially significant value

CCF also will not accredit companies unless all parent and subsidiaries are also accredited. This is one of the reasons that lists produced by other organisations may include companies that CCF would not accredit. Companies applying for accreditation by CCF must sign a legally-binding contract to the effect that what they have said in their application is the truth about their practices.

CCF regularly updates its list of accredited companies. This can be found on the CCF website

Founder and Director of Adorn Mineral Cosmetics, Briony Kennedy, is a ten year veteran of the cosmetics industry and former salon owner. She’s committed to animal welfare and the environment, and to  finding better ways to produce, distribute and dispose of personal care products. She regularly writes for the beauty media and supports a variety of social groups and organisations.

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