What is the difference between natural, bio and eco cosmetics?

About the article that they did to our director and expert in beauty and natural cosmetics Valerie Aucouturier at the Vogue Spain magazine , we wanted to delve deeper into the subject.

When we talk about terms like bio, eco and natural, we must start by explaining the background: the Agriculture (vegetable and animal production), a pioneer in the observation of the effect or abuse of intensive techniques on soils.

It is interesting to know that organic farming is governed by a European directive and a local application. In other words, what is organic in France is not exactly the same as what is organic in Spain. The French label « Organic Agriculture » or AB for example, created in 1985 with strict bases and the starting point of many reflections, today has more flexible criteria to adapt to the more permissive European legislation.

They exist throughout Europe, not to mention the world, many adjectives, many stamps, which seem synonymous.

Hence the great confusion that can be generated among consumers.

Why doesn't it mean the same?

Because, and it is the most important thing, there is no harmonization today, no norm on natural cosmetics (different from what happens in agriculture at that time) among the countries of Europe.

So, the seals that we find in cosmetics come from private companies, that is to say that the laboratories pay to obtain these certifications from independent organizations, each one with its criteria. New labels can be created, with more or less strict rules, hence a proliferation in the sector even in the same country.

1 - Bio cosmetics is inspired by the seal of Biological agriculture. It may be visually identified by the Cosmebio seal, which highlights the syllable Bio in its pictogram. But in the end, it is a synonym for ecological cosmetics, as it is in agriculture.

In general, cosmetic products can present several stamps in the same packaging.

They can all be shown even if they are stamps from other countries, because cosmetics, unlike agriculture, is governed by a European regulation: that is, there is no local adaptation of the definition or labeling criteria. So what works for us in one country will work for us in another of the European Union, with some exceptions.

Learn about the seals and certificates that our products have: see seals and certificates

2 - More fundamental is the difference between "natural" cosmetics and "organic" cosmetics: it lies in the formula, in the percentage of ingredients from organic farming within the formula.

Just to clarify: a formula is a mixture of components, that is, a base in which active ingredients are mixed. Like making a vinaigrette: an oil and vinegar base with seasonings like salt and pepper! The base is what we find in greater proportion in the formula.

The base of the formula is generally natural, that is to say that it comes from nature : it can be water, alcohol, paraffin (mineral oil from petroleum). It does not necessarily act on the skin in a beneficial way: it is chosen to be able to better apply the product to the skin.

"Actually, natural cosmetics do not usually contain ingredients from organic farming."

While organic cosmetics do (by definition): That is to say that the active principles added to the base (then to a small fraction of the overall formula) come from organic farming (animal and/or vegetable).

And the percentage of these active ingredients in the formula varies between labels and countries. Some labels actually settle for very low minimums.

In addition, a label on organic cosmetics may also include social concerns, demands on the sustainability , which have nothing to do with the expected effect on the skin. You can prohibit the use of such or such a product if it is suspected of toxicity: the list depends on the sensitivity of the creator of the seal.

It may go beyond that of the products identified within the European Regulation on chemicals (REACH) controlled by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Hence the endless list of supposedly toxic components in the products
"free from" Some are registered in the Reach, others are in the evaluation process, simply.

To conclude: A seal, whatever it is, helps us to distinguish a product for which they have taken care to provide a formula with controlled components and values ​​that give it an emotional dimension. However, like everything in life, you will have to know how to read the fine print.

Sources and References

All the mandatory elements of the labeling of cosmetic products in Europe are available for consultation, searching for article 19 of regulation 1223/2009.

And they are only: the responsible laboratory and its address, the name of the product, its use and its possible precautions for use, the list of ingredients under the INCI format in Latin and from highest concentration to lowest.

Reach and Echa have a Web. : https://echa.europa.eu/en/regulations/reach/understanding-reach

Each stamp has its explanatory website. The one from AB from France:  http://www.agencebio.org/la-marque-ab

The European: https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/downloads/logo_en
Ecocert: http://www.ecocert.com/cosmetique-biologique-et-bien-etre/index.html