Today, 1 out of 3 beauty products in the US are labeled “clean” according to Brand Essence. But what does clean mean? Are there clean beauty certifications?
Many beauty products are now labeled as organic, natural, non-toxic, safe, pure, eco-friendly, or sustainable. Terms like clean or natural aren’t regulated in the US and with a clean beauty market estimated to reach $22 billion by 2024, many brands are taking advantage of consumers. 68% of CEOs admitted that their companies were guilty of greenwashing in 2022.
Fortunately, several organizations have created standards and labels to fight misleading “green” claims. Most of these companies are independent and use third-party entities to complete checks and verifications. Eco-friendly certifications are useful to avoid most greenwashing traps.
From non-toxic certifications to natural labels and ethical practices seals, we have created a guide to help you make informed purchases. Here are the 14 most prominent clean beauty certifications.
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Table of Contents
What is an Eco-Friendly Certification?
An eco-friendly certification is attributed to a product that follows verified sustainable practices.
Today, many eco-friendly accreditations exist, such as: organic and natural labels, vegan and cruelty-free certifications, non-toxic seal, ethical practices and recyclable packaging marks, etc.
For example: The USDA organic label certifies food and ingredients produced in farms using no pesticides on crops or hazardous chemicals to treat animals.
The standards for each certification is set by an independent organization and experts control rigorously every product.
Once the product has been controlled and approved, it has the right to display the eco-friendly certification as a mark of authenticity for customers.
A sustainable certification is the easiest way to identify sustainable and ethical brands.
ORIGIN OF THE INGREDIENTS
1. USDA Organic – The Organic Certification for Ingredients
Products Certified: Food & ingredients
USDA Organic is the American certification for organic food and ingredients.
The USDA Organic certifies a farm or processing facility to sell, label, and represent their products as organic. It sets non-toxic and durable criteria for factors such as soil quality, animal breeding, or the use of additives.
USDA-accredited certifying agents inspect the organic facilities every year. The organic certification reviews processes and criteria such as seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, and more.
It exists four categories for the USDA certification:
- “100% organic”: contains 100% organic ingredients
- “Organic”: contains a minimum of 95% organic ingredients
- “Made with organic ingredients”: contains a minimum of 70% organic ingredients
- “Specific organic ingredients”: made with less than 70% organic ingredients
UDSA organic is often used in eco-friendly beauty products as a trustworthy clean beauty certification.
Read our article about the Best Organic Anti-Aging Skincare Brands.
2. Cosmos – Organic and Natural Cosmetics Certification
Products Certified: Beauty products & personal care: cosmetics, makeup, skincare
Beauty Brands Cosmos Certified: Tata Harper, Indie Lee & Co, Kora Organics, One Love Organics, Love Sun Body
Cosmos Organic is a certification for organic and natural cosmetics products created by Ecocert.
The certification was created by Ecocert in 1991. Ecocert is an international organization specializing in the certification of sustainable practices. Today, the company is present in more than 130 countries.
The Cosmos certification guarantees
- Environmentally friendly production and processes,
- Reasonable use of natural resources,
- Absence of petrochemical ingredients,
- Recyclable packaging
The Cosmos logo certifies at least 20% of organic ingredients in the formula and 95% of the plants contained in the product to be organic. This clean beauty certification is widely used in cosmetics and personal care products.
Read our article about the Best Clean And Natural Beauty Boxes & Subscriptions.
3. Non-GMO Project – Label for Non-GMO Ingredients
Products Certified: Ingredients & food
The Non-Gmo project is an American non-profit organization committed to preserving the non-GMO food supply in North America.
The Non-GMO Project offers North America’s only third-party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. The organization works to verify the absence of GMOs in foods, ingredients, and products through a transparent, rigorous, and consistent verification process.
The butterfly label was first used in 2010. It ensures rigorous product verification for wholesale goods and retail consumer goods.
The clean beauty certification ensures there is no GMO ingredients in your beauty or personal care products.
4. EWG – The Non-Toxic Certification
Products Certified: Cosmetics, personal care, textile, household product, food, and water
Beauty Brands EWG Certified: Well People, Beauty Counter, Honest Beauty, Kora Organics, Mineral Fusion
The Environmental Working Group certifies products that are non-toxic for human health and the environment.
Founded in 1993, EWG is focused on chemical safety and bans hazardous substances. The Group’s mission is to push companies to create safer and healthier products. On the EWG website, you can find many reports about substances proven to create allergies, fertility issues, and even cancers.
EWG certification means that a product went through the strictest checks for human health and was found safe to use and free from hazardous chemicals.The EWG label is an important clean beauty certification guaranteeing the safety of your makeup or skincare products.
5. Made Safe – Certified Safe for Human Health and the Environment
Products Certified: Apparel, baby and child items, bedding, cosmetics, household, intimate and personal care, and pets.
Beauty Brands Made Safe Certified: Annmarie, True Botanicals, Blueland
The Made Safe label certifies that a product is not toxic to human health or the environment.
Made Safe was created in 2014 by Nontoxic Certified, a non-profit organization.
Ingredients, manufacturing, and end-of-life disposal processes are reviewed by an independent third party. The final product should not contain any ingredients harmful to human health or the environment.
Currently, 6500 hazardous substances are banned from the Made Safe ingredient list.
The certification applies to apparel, baby and child items, bedding, cosmetics, household, intimate and personal care, and pet products. This is a very popular clean beauty certification.
6. Leaping Bunny – Cruelty-Free Label
Products Certified: Cosmetics, personal care, household products, pet care
Beauty Brands Cruelty-Free Certified: Biossance, Elf Cosmetics, The Detox Market
Leaping Bunny certifies cruelty-free companies for almost 30 years.
Those companies have pledged to end animal testing at all stages of product development. They need to recommit every year and accept to be audited by third parties.
Currently, about 2400 companies are certified by Leaping Bunny. Companies selling products in China can not be cruelty-free certified. Animal testing is mandatory to enter the Chinese market.
The Leaping Bunny seal is one of the most sought-after clean beauty certification.
7. Peta Beauty Without Bunnies – Cruelty-Free Certification
Products Certified: Cosmetics, personal care, household products
Beauty Brands Peta Certified: Elf Cosmetics, Biossance, Apotheke, Aveda, Bliss World
Peta’s cruelty-free label also certifies cruelty-free companies since 1984.
It ensures that brands and their suppliers do not conduct, commission, pay for, or allow any tests on animals for their ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and that they will never do so in the future.
This clean beauty certification is highly popular among consumers who care for animal welfare.
8. Vegan Certified – Seal Guaranteeing Absence of Animal or Animal-Derived products
Products Certified: Cosmetics, personal care, textile, home furniture, food
Beauty Brands Vegan Certified: Milk Beauty, KVD Vegan Beauty, Axiology, The Ordinary, Pacifica Beauty
The Certified Vegan Logo is a registered trademark for products that do not contain animal products or byproducts and that have not been tested on animals.
Banned ingredients include meat, fish, fowl, animal by-products, eggs, milk, honey, leather, fur, silk, and feather. Soil, fertilizer, or farming practices are not taken into account during the certification process. Currently, about 1000 companies are vegan-certified. This label is a highly sought-after clean beauty certification.
9. B Corporation – Certification for Social and Environmental Performance
Products Certified: All industries
Beauty Brands B-Corp Certified: Beauty Counter, Aveda, Aesop, Weleda, Prima
B Corporation is a label for transparency and social responsibility within a company.
B-Corp is an international certification ensuring that a business meets certain social and environmental standards such as employee benefit, transparency, or accountability.
Created in 2006, the organization counts today over 5,300 certified B Corps in over 83 countries.
The evaluation process includes a review of a company’s practices and policies with its workers, customers, community, and the environment. B Corporations are required to recertify every three years and to report progress on social and environmental engagement.
10. Fair Trade – Label for Sustainable and Equitable Trade
Products Certified: Food and ingredients
The Fair Trade certification is an international label certifying ethical practices (safe working conditions, fair prices, etc) to communities in developing countries. It also guarantees sustainable agriculture production.
Created in 1958, Fair Trade products are now available in more than 145 countries. Almost 2 million workers and farmers have worked in connection with the organization globally. Sustainable projects endorsed by Fair Trade help support local communities.
11. Rainforest Alliance – Seal for Biodiversity and Worker Welfare
Products Certified: Food and ingredients
The Rainforest Alliance label promotes environmental responsibility, social equity, and economic viability for farm communities.
The Rainforest Alliance label guarantees:
- Ethical practices for farmers, workers, and their communities,
- Deforestation prevention,
- Biodiversity protection.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PRACTICES
12. Forest Stewardship Council – Label for Sustainable Management of the World Forests
Products Certified: All products with paper packaging.
FSC’s goal is to ensure the conservation and restoration of the world’s forests.
Founded in 1994, The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international, independent, not-for-profit organization that promotes the social and environmental management of the world’s forests.
The FSC label can be found on an increasing number of products worldwide. Products with the FSC label meet standards for sustainability, legality, and traceability set by the FSC.
The FSC label is your guarantee that wood or paper comes from forests that are well-managed and legally harvested. In addition, forest workers benefit from ethical working conditions, and indigenous communities are involved in the management of their traditional lands.
Many beauty brands are improving their product packaging with recyclable or recycled materials. FSC is becoming more and more popular as a clean beauty certification.
13. Climate Neutral – Certification for Neutral Greenhouse Gas Emission
Products Certified: All industries
Beauty Brands Climate Neutral Certified: Kora Organics, Everist, Prima
Climate Neutral certification guarantees that a company has a neutral greenhouse gas emission balance.
Climate Neutral is a nonprofit organization working to eliminate carbon emissions. Companies must achieve the rigorous climate-neutral standard to receive the Climate Neutral Certified label. These 331 brands have become Climate Neutral Certified.
14. 1% For The Planet – Certifies a Brand Gives Back to Environmental Causes
Products Certified: All industries
Beauty Brands 1% for the Planet Certified: ILIA Beauty, Alpyn Beauty, Everist, Bionassay, Wiley Body
1% for the Planet guarantees that a company gives at least 1% of its sales profit to environmental causes.
It was created to prevent greenwashing by Patagonia’s founder. Today, members of the 1% for the Planet network have given over $435 million to 4,000 environmental organizations.