The difference between ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ in cosmetics & personal care

In recent years, the negative impact of chemical products on human health and the environment has caused consumers to turn to “organic and natural” personal care products. The market for “organic and natural personal care products” gained big importance within the cosmetics and wellness products market.

A global trend

Globally the frequency of skin inconveniences increases. Therefore consumers shift from synthetic skin care products to natural and organic products. The market growth is also driven by legal regulations that encourage the use of organic ingredients in the personal and skin care industry. Although the price of organic personal care products is 40-50% higher than the price of traditional cosmetics, this trend is expected to continue for many years.

According to a research by EcoFocus, 33% of consumers prefer organic personal care products, and 48% prefer organic bathroom products. According to the same research, it is seen that 76% of the consumers prefer “products approved and tested by independent institutions”.

Natural or organic?

Because the term “natural” has no determined standards, it’s used in various places. The term “organic” however, can only be used if the product has been approved by an authorized independent certification body. Independent certification bodies define what can be sold as an organic product, by a minimum percentage of organic contents.

Organic products are defined as the product produced from natural raw materials obtained under environmentally friendly conditions. While classifying a product as organic; it is taken into consideration that it does not contain synthetic substances, does not contain synthetic chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals and aluminum salts. It does not contain harmful preservatives, artificial colors and artificial odors. The products are not tested on animals and the packages are recyclable.

Standards and certificates

Independent institutions such as Ecocert, Soil Association, Cosmebio, ICEA, BDIH, OASIS, NPA, Cosmos, NaTrue and NSF have established various standards on “regulation and certification of organic product ingredients”. There is currently no global standard for personal care products that covers the entire world.


In France, standards for natural and organic cosmetic products have been determined by Ecocert. These standards define quality levels and environmental awareness above the level set by the French and European cosmetics laws. Products containing at least 95% organic raw materials, including water, can be defined as “organic”. Up to 5% of synthetic preservatives are permitted, for example dehydroacetic acid and sodium hydroxid.


In Germany, standards for natural cosmetics are established by BDIH. They define the use of natural raw materials in the production of organic products and naturally identical preservatives such as benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid can be used with natural preservatives. For the certificate, there are no standards for organic raw materials contents.


Organic beauty products standards created by the Soil Association in the UK are based on organic food standards. Organic raw materials should be used in the content of the product and a number of criteria have been established to ensure that other raw materials do not harm health or the environment. Limited amounts of synthetic preservatives and ingredients are permitted, such as benzyl alcohol, dehydroacetic acid and phenoxy ethanol.

Brussels-based ‘NaTrue’

Different standards have been set by NaTrue in Brussels for products made from raw materials of 100% natural origin and raw materials of limited natural origin, excluding water and salt.

Entire Europe

Organic standards have been established by Cosmos for the whole of Europe. It covers standards set by BDIH, Soil Association, CosmeBio, Ecocert and ICEA. The products are classified as “Organic” and “Natural” according to the proportion of raw materials, other than the minerals they contain. The product can obtain an “organic” certificate if it contains at least 95% processed vegetable raw materials.


In the USA, the industry standards for organic production for the cosmetics industry have been established by NSF / ANSI. According to these standards; “100% organic” product certificate is issued if there are only organically produced raw materials, excluding water and salt. Products containing at least 95% organic raw materials, excluding water and salt, can be defined as “organic”.


In Canada, IOS cosmetic standards created by Certech are used. Organic product certification must contain at least 95% natural raw materials in the product content.


In Australia, standards for organic products have been established by “Australian Organic”, in line with national and international standards. “Australian Certified Organic Standard” is one of the strictest standards in Australia.

Share this article
Enter new markets
boost global sales
We help you find and manage the right distribution channels in over 30 countries.

Market entry cases

RR Engineers
EEPC India
CAN Home appliances
De Heus
HCP – the sweetener company
Apart Group
Golden Red Trade Solution
Le Joyau d’Olive