The difference between labels and certifying bodies .

Certifying bodies are companies or associations which check that the necessary requirements are met so that the labels outlined previously may be awarded. In order to avoid being held judge and jury, it is not the labelling bodies themselves which carry out these checks.

The best-known inspection bodies are:

- Ecocert

It checks and certi es that COSMEBIO label requirements are ful lled and put into practice.

- Qualité France can also certify COSMEBIO requirements, but employs even stricter rules.

- Eco-control certi es the requirements of both the BDIH and Natrue labels.

- NOP is an American body which aims to maintain European-level organic standards. It currently only certi es raw materials and suppliers.

Among these labels, Ecocert, a pioneer in the eld, has created confusion in some minds. Indeed, many believe that the Ecocert symbol or logo is synonymous with “organic” products, which is not the case. The hazy nature of this distinction weakens the credibility of all the producers involved in organic activities. 

Labels presentation.


French Association of Ecological and Organic Cosmetics.

This association represents all of those involved in the cosmetics industry:

- suppliers of raw materials and ingredients, cosmetics manufacturers, cosmetics laboratories and distributors.

All of these parties are engaged in activities related to the Natural and Organic cosmetics industry. In order to be a member and to use the Ecological and Organic Cosmetics logos, certi cation must have been received from an independent inspection body. Certi cation is based on strict speci cations incorporated into the COSMEBIO charter, laid down by the French Ministry of Industry in 2003.

In order for products to bene t from this label and carry the logo, manufacturers must be members of COSMEBIO and have their products and manufacturing procedures certi ed by Ecocert or Qualité-France.

*Laboratoires KART has been a COSMEBIO member since 2005.


  • Cosmebio has a number of clear objectives :

- to o er customers genuine cosmetics and hygiene products which are e ective and non- toxic, composed of certi ed natural and organic ingredients, which respect man, animals and the environment, and with the aim of maintaining transparency with regard to the ingredients and manufacturing methods used.

- to promote the ecological and organic cosmetics network by promoting information and training for members, as well as by protecting consumers. 

For maximum transparency, COSMEBIO has drawn up a charter which aims to develop a clear and simple concept dedicated to cosmetics which are authentic and natural, and which respect certain principles set out therein. It deals with the ingredients themselves, their origins, the methods by which they are extracted, their management, the methods by which products are manufactured, traceability, respect for the environment etc… 


COSMEBIO therefore issues two different labels, Eco and Bio, the latter being more stringent. The following production guidelines must be satisfied:

Cosmébio considers ingredients based on their origin, which can be classified as: 


Ingredients of natural origin

Ingredients of plant origin

Ingredients of organic plant origin

Ingredients of animal origin

Ingredients of organic animal origin

Ingredients of synthetic origin 


These ingredients must comply with numerous fairly complex rules and their “names” can cause some confusion.

Ingredients of synthetic origin are named as such since they are natural ingredients but require chemical processing in order to be used. This chemical processing is stringently regulated and is seldom authorised. The base ingredient that has been “processed”, however natural it might be, then falls into the so-called “synthetic” category as a result.

Ingredients of animal origin are ingredients that result from animal production, i.e. ingredients produced by animals, such as beeswax, for example. The cosmetics industry obviously prohibits the use of live or dead animals in its products.

Ingredients of non-organic plant and animal origin are ingredients which are certi able as part of the schemes. They can only represent 50% of the content in relation to the sum of all certi able ingredients where the Eco label is concerned and a mere 5% where the Bio label is concerned.

These so-called certi able ingredients are of plant or animal origin and can be either of organic or non-organic origin.

Ingredients of natural origin are ingredients which are subject to a process of “gentle extraction” according to the speci cations. (fermentation, hydration, esteri cation etc.). Water is also considered to be of natural origin.

Finally, Organic ingredients, which are the direct result of organic farming. They are emphasised in the COSMEBIO speci cations and must be incorporated at levels of at least 5 to 10% respectively for the Eco and Bio labels. 

Where plants are concerned, no explanation is needed, but animals must be fed on or produce products that are a result of this farming method; if this condition is ful lled, honey and milk can subsequently be certi ed as organic ingredients.

An organic plant or animal ingredient will count towards both organic and natural percentages. Therefore, a product made of ingredients that are 100% organic in origin will also be considered to be 100% natural.
In the same way, a non-organic ingredient of animal or plant origin is also considered to be of natural origin. 


  • The 3 production rules are therefore simple once classification is complete :


  1. Products must contain a minimum of 95% natural ingredients (with a maximum of 5% ingredients of synthetic origin). 
  2. Products must contain at least 5% (for the Eco label) or 10% (for the Bio label) ingredients that are a result of organic farming. 

    These first two simple rules must be mentioned on all packaging, and organic ingredients must be indicated for greater clarity.

    The third rule is not mentioned as it is more di cult for most readers to grasp. It is as follows: 

  3. Out of all certifiable ingredients, a minimum of 95% must be of organic origin. 

This rule does not take into account all of the ingredients, just those that are of plant, organic plant, animal and organic animal origin.

Each time that 0.5% of a product of non-organic plant or animal origin is included, this must be compensated with around 10% in product(s) of organic origin. That is 10/(10+0.5) = 0.952 = 95.2% > the 95% minimum required. 




Bundesverband Deutscher Industrie Handelunternehmen.

”BDIH” began as an association made up of pharmaceutical brands and industries working in the health, diet and hygiene product sector. This association was created in Germany in 1951 and was the forerunner in natural product certi cation. However it was only in 1996 that BDIH members began associating with cosmetics manufacturers and developed a directive for the inspection of natural cosmetics. Today, more than one hundred companies ful l the conditions set out in the BDIH quality cosmetics charter and more than three thousand products carry their seal of inspection.

BDIH concentrates on the natural aspect of products and its label is a guarantee of safety for so-called “natural” products. The BDIH rules are completely di erent from those contained in the COSMEBIO guidelines. There is no rule stating that certain percentages must be obtained. This label has very simple rules.

BDIH requires that ingredients used all be from their de ned list. This list is stricter than other labels, particularly with regard to surfactants and preservatives. This list is not set in stone and it is possible to submit new ingredients to BDIH to add to it; it is however mandatory that these ingredients are natural. There is no concept with this label of a “synthetic” product made from modi ed natural ingredients.

Preservatives and surfactants are therefore very low in number. Any preservatives used must be mentioned; this is the only requirement with regard to descriptions on packaging. There are also no rules regarding waste management or cleaning products. This is left to the discretion of the companies concerned. 

  • The BDIH label focuses solely on the content of products.

Non-natural ingredients are obviously prohibited. The inclusion of the following is therefore not permitted in formulas: synthetic organic dyes, synthetic perfumes, ethoxylated raw materials, silicones, mineral oils as well as petroleum-derived products, etc.

Products showing the BDIH logo use the following natural substances, for example: oil, high-quality vegetable oil and vegetable wax, plant extracts, oral waters and essential oils as well as products gathered under controlled conditions from the wild.

A distinct pictogram has just been added to the existing designs. The text can be in several di erent languages but it always remains easily recognisable.

Currently, Laboratoires KART has a BDIH label on over 60 products. 



Other labels.

The other labels are little known and we will not elaborate on their requirements.

A new European label is however due to be unveiled shortly. It aims to reduce the conflict between the different bodies and ease consumer recognition. The rules have not yet been set out.

As COSMEBIO and BDIH members, we are consulted on various issues. We will endeavour to ensure that this initiative takes a direction that is in keeping with our beliefs.

Very interesting guidelines are currently being drawn up for this label which will become quite strict over the medium and long term and will provide additional guarantees of quality. Nonetheless, discussions are moving slowly. Optimum harmonisation of di erent labels involves long procedures, but this label could soon be in operation.

We will inform you of this event via our website. 



Certifying entities presentation.



independent inspection and certification association.

Ecocert is a French certi cation body recognised by the Government, which has o ered Ecological and Organic Cosmetics certi cation since late 2002.

The Ecocert frame of reference is based on the COSMEBIO charter.

For a long time, Ecocert was the only COSMEBIO label certifying body: the only body capable of checking if the requirements necessary to obtain the label had been ful lled, and it is on this fact that its excellent reputation rests. Today, Ecocert has several branches abroad to consolidate its position as a leading certi cation body.

Ecocert performs one audit per year. 




Independent inspection and certi cation body.

The “Qualité France” label is a French public label which is recognised internationally. This independent inspection and certi cation body recognised by the French State also certi es suppliers of raw materials, feed etc.

A frame of reference has been established for use by cosmetics manufacturers, and this must be respected in order for the “Qualité France” label to be awarded. The “Qualité France” cosmetics frame of reference is recognised by COSMEBIO, which gives “Qualité France” the right to certify cosmetics products, to check whether COSMEBIO requirements are in place and, if so, to issue COSMEBIO labels, just as Ecocert can.

This body is much less well-known than Ecocert as it is a more recent entrant into the cosmetics industry; “Qualité France” was originally involved only in the food industry. Their certi cation charter is nonetheless more advanced than that of COSMEBIO.
The COSMEBIO label has 3 rules (see the paragraph on COSMEBIO); “Qualité France” respects the rst two in an identical manner but is more strict with regard to the third. 




Therefore, as an example, no non-organic essential oil is permitted. The only exceptions are on technical grounds. If an organic product poses a formula-speci c technical problem (i.e. if the product in its organic version has di erent physical or chemical qualities, generally due to the method by which it was extracted, which mean that it cannot be used in an identical manner to the non-organic material), “Qualité France” grants a technical dispensation and in these cases the COSMEBIO rule is followed. Technical dispensations are subject to the decision of a scienti c committee which gives a ruling on technical constraints. This severity is easier for consumers to understand than COSMEBIO’s third rule and also provides products with a degree of additional quality. 


It is for this reason that Laboratoires Kart decided to collaborate with “Qualité France”. It is a precise requirement and goes beyond the minimum set by COSMEBIO. 


“Qualité France” performs 2 audits per year, to ensure that the rules are perfectly respected. 




The certi cation body which inspects BDIH products is called Eco-control.

It follows the label’s frame of reference and undertakes one day-long inspection per year to check that all criteria are respected. It is also authorised to inspect the attributes of the new Natrue labels.