Organic and Natural Products
Based on different studies and consumer articles, it appears that consumer’s interest in natural and organic products is growing. The question is: What does this mean? Are consumers actually interested in products that contain organic/natural materials, or are they really interested in products that are safer and whose production or use, have a minimal impact on the planet (i.e., they are renewable)? The key to meeting consumer demand is to understand what organic/natural means in order to produce formulations that meet expectations. Since the cosmetics and personal care industry is not regulated, various organisations have offered conflicting positions on standardised guidelines for natural organic claims. To improve communication on this topic, it will therefore become important to dissociate claims regarding the naturalness of ingredients from the perception of safety. Safety is inherent in the raw materials used for formulating, regardless of their origin and in the synergies among ingredients—for more than 50 years, the industry has worked hard to monitor the safety of products on the market, supported by the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA), US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And recently, more governmental agencies such as US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on Cosmetic Products have taken a proactive role in sorting out the meanings of natural and organic for the cosmetics and personal care industry. Such organisations act as a clearer scientific focal point in deciding what ingredients are safe for use in cosmetic products. In addition, several organisations currently are monitoring the safety of cosmetics and personal care ingredients, such as the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel.
General Formula Standards
Most organic/natural products launched consist of at least 90% naturally derived materials and they omit certain ingredients construed as being unsafe, such as parabens, propylene glycol, petrochemicals , perfume and colour . Cosmetic products meeting organic standards tend to follow food standards, where no chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or other toxins were used to grow the non-hybridised plant sources from which the raw materials are derived. The most common denominators among formulas that meet claims for natural standards include: Ingredients based on environmentally conscious and ecologically sound practices that are socially responsible with regard to the use of resources, and that impart minimum human impact on the environment; Water is considered a basic ingredient; therefore, it is not included in the calculation for total percentage of natural or organic ingredients; At least 90% of the formula composition, sans water, is based on renewable feedstock and ingredients with neutral carbon footprints; Incidental ingredients such as preservatives, chelating agents and antioxidants do not have to be included in the calculation so long as they represent less than 1% of the non-water portion of the composition, and there are no renewable resource alternatives; and All raw materials used should represent the best approach to safe exposure to humans; safety measurements are based on scientific studies demonstrating their long-term safety to humans. In general, the key to formulating organic/natural products is to choose safe and effective raw materials of as natural an origin as possible. Their renewability also should be incorporated into the product development process, to result in the smallest possible negative footprint on the environment. However, for product developers to meet the specific requirements of a given standard, it is important to fully understand the requirements since they can vary as to how the percentage of organic/ natural ingredients is calculated, or the degree of modification allowed to a natural source material. This is important because some organic/ natural ingredients are either not functionally suitable to create good aesthetics, are not stable, or are not sufficiently pure—odourless and colourless.