A look at a few of the natural skincare, cosmetic and beauty product certifications and accreditations that are available, and the pros and cons on whether to apply for them.

a blackboard with the word approved written on it
Is it worth getting your natural skincare or cosmetic products additionally certified or accredited?

Hopefully you have already read through Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the FREE online Skincare Business Course

In Part 4 of the course, we are looking at some of the additional certifications and accreditations that you can get for natural skincare, cosmetic and beauty products so you can decide whether they are worth it for your business.

Additional certifications and accreditations for homemade natural skincare products

If you want to sell your homemade natural skincare or beauty products in the UK then each product must have a CPSR (cosmetic product safety report). This is the main form of certification that each product in your range will need for you to be able to sell it legally. Different laws will apply in countries outside the UK, but will no doubt be similar.

There are additional certifications and accreditations that you can get for your products. They are no legal requirements to have these for your products but they can sometimes be helpful in giving your business or product extra credibility, and in this article I'll be looking at some of the schemes available and the pros and cons of applying for them.

If you have ever looked on a natural skincare or beauty product container or packaging and seen some sort of logo (not the brand logo), the chances are that it is a certification or accreditation mark or logo.

The Soil Association in the UK report that 2020 saw a 13% growth in certified organic and natural beauty and wellbeing products, with this growth figure outperforming the non natural beauty and wellbeing product sales as consumers become more conscious of the impact of what they put on their bodies, as well as the impact on the environment.

Certifications and accreditations are where you apply to register your product(s) with a particular organisation, and if successful, they allow you to use a specific and recognisable logo or trademark on your website, products, product packaging and in all your sales and marketing literature, including your social media. This could give you an advantage over your competitors and be a great additional selling point, especially if your target market is for vegetarians or vegans.

Certifications and accreditation schemes for natural skincare and beauty products are designed as a type of guarantee system for products to show the consumer that the product has been assessed by a respected organisation and that the product has been certified with a particular feature, such as organic, natural, vegan, cruelty free or produced to the highest sustainable standards.

The Soil Association state that 45% of consumers believe organic beauty and wellbeing is better for the environment and that 2 in 5 people think that a certification logo is helpful when making a decision to purchase a product.

Some of these schemes may be too expensive at the outset for a small start-up business, but others are much more affordable so it really is worth doing your research into them if you are looking to have some form of additional certification for your natural skincare and beauty products. You normally pay an application fee and then an annual fee based on your business turnover but some schemes can be a one off fee with special rates for small start-up companies. Schemes constantly change as the organisations that run them try to accommodate small businesses, so always check for the latest information.

However, if you do get a product certified (and you can get just one product from your whole range certified if you like), then you usually get your name added to a business directory on the website of the company that granted the certification. This means that when people are searching for natural skincare or cosmetic products you are more likely to be found. This is just another way you can get some additional exposure for your business.

There are a lot of schemes available and I am not going to attempt to cover them all here, but some of the main accreditations that you could consider are as follows:

The Soil Association (COSMO) certification for natural skincare products

The Soil Association now certify natural skincare and beauty products internationally as either COSMOS ORGANIC or COSMOS NATURAL and they also have a Soil Association Health & Beauty Product Certification. (Read about the types of certification available from The Soil Association).

The Soil Association will be looking for evidence of what ingredients you use and the percentage that is organic, traceability of raw materials, hygiene and packaging. They will also want to look at your labels to make sure that they include all the information that consumers require and do not contain any misleading claims about the product itself.

You can apply for COSMOS certification wherever you are in the world and in the UK you should contact The Soil Association for further information about COSMOS certification.

This option is not cheap if you are doing a low cost start-up natural skincare business with the initial application fee starting at £765 at the time of writing - see details of The Soil Association certification fees for natural skincare and beauty products. This may be an option you want to look at in the future when you are sure that you are going to keep on selling the product (it may not sell well or you may improve the formulation over time).

The Vegan Trademark for natural skincare products

This internationally recognised sunflower logo is used on thousands of products word-wide. Many organic and natural skincare and beauty products use this logo which gives an internationally recognised assurance that the product is free from animal ingredients. You can use the trademark in any country apart from those countries which require animal testing of skincare and cosmetic products.

You don't have to be vegan yourself to use this service and a lot of natural skincare and beauty products are free from animal ingredients and can apply for this trademark.

You can register one particular product for the vegan trademark, for instance a face oil, even if you produce other products which would not be suitable for the vegan certification, such as a hand balm containing beeswax. The Vegan Society will also promote your products at trade shows and offer discounted advertising rates along with promotional opportunities on their website and media channels.

Your product will be licensed for either 12 or 24 months and if your target market is for vegetarians or vegans then this could be well worth looking in to. The cost of applying is based on the size of your company and although I have been unable to get any firm costs from the organisation for a small start up business with no employees, I seem to remember when I investigated this years ago that the costs were extremely reasonable and it's easy to get a quote. Read more about registering your natural skincare products for the Vegan Trademark.

NATRUE Certification for natural skincare products

NATRUE is an association based in Brussels and committed to promoting and protecting natural and organic products word wide. The NATRUE Label represents a reliable and trusted standard for natural and organic beauty products. NATRUE does not certify products directly but works with a network of independent bodies worldwide. Read more about the wordlwide certifying bodies for the NATRUE label.

The cost of applying depends on which company you work with however NATRUE also charge a fee of 220 euros per product for a 2 year licence (unless you want to certify over 100 products). Read more about the NATRUE certification process.

The Leaping Bunny logo for natural skincare products

The Leaping Bunny logo is a well known sign that a product is animal friendly and cruelty free but is only open to companies based in the USA or Canada . The organisation is run by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) which promotes the internationally recognised Leaping Bunny logo. This is a mark of a cruelty free product to guarantee that non of the ingredients used or the final product itself has been tested on animals.

Most UK suppliers of cosmetic ingredients certify that none of their raw materials were tested on animals so you could obtain this guarantee from your suppliers (usually on their website or upon request) and then confirm in writing (without the use of a trademark logo) on your packaging or label that neither the finished product or raw ingredients were tested on animals.

Once you have this confirmation from your suppliers you could even create your own logo with the words 'cruelty free' on it.

There is a lot to read about and understand regarding additional certifications and accreditations for natural skincare and beauty products and they are definitely worth considering. However you really need to research each one and see whether it is appropriate for your business and your products at an early stage. Just because you decide not to apply to register any products today doesn't mean that you can't come back in a year and look at it again when your product range is more defined and your formulations unlikely to change.

If you decide to apply at a later date you will want the trademark logo on your products, for instance the labels and packaging. If you put this issue on the backburner at the beginning of starting your business and think you may apply at some stage in the future, remember this when you are getting your labels and packaging printed as you don't want a huge amount of wasted stock. It is usually easy to add a trademark logo to your social media accounts or on-line store.

Many consumers today have a great deal of knowledge about ingredients in products and research them before they buy. Certain people will rate highly a company or brand that has certification from an independent authority as it gives them the assurance that the product has met certain conditions in order to be certified. Bear in mind however that the cost of certification can vary wildly, with some being a significant cost and some being very reasonable. You need to do your research on the range of certification schemes that are out there and how each particular scheme may either be not relevant to you at all, or may in fact help you market to your target customer.

If you are considering additional certification or accreditation for your natural skincare products then consider the following tips:

  • Make a list of the pro’s and con’s for each different scheme in relation to your particular products. business and target market.

  • List the cost(s) involved. You need to know whether this will be a one-off cost or a regular annual payment.

  • Make a decision on whether you are going to apply before you print your product labels, packaging and marketing material.

Advantages and Disadvantages of additional certification for natural skincare products

  • Advantage – an accreditation can help your product(s) stand out from the competition

  • Advantage – the logo(s) are instantly recognisable and add to the credibility of your brand

  • Advantage – many customers actively seek out certain products, for example vegan, or seeing a recognised trademark may swing their decision to purchase by adding a form of respectability to the product

  • Advantage – some organisations will also assist in ways such as discounts for new start-up companies and promotion of your products via their websites and social media

  • Disadvantage – the cost may be prohibitive for some schemes. Some organisations charge a on-off fee and others an annual one that needs to be renewed each year

  • Disadvantage – the process will take time and money

  • Disadvantage – if you have already formulated your products you may have to re-formulate to meet the requirements of the scheme

Summary on Additional Certification for natural skincare and beauty products

So in a nutshell, additional certification or accreditations can be a really useful tool to help sales and marketing and give your products and business some credibility, especially if you want to sell into shops. Even at shows and markets, you may be one of the only people with an additional accreditation on your products.

Take a good look at the accreditation websites and get the up to date information on costs and standards before making your decision as some of them seem to be reviewing their schemes for 2022. If you have any queries just pick up the phone and talk to them.

If it all seems like too much to consider when you are just thinking about launching your business, then put it on the back burner until a future date and concentrate on your product range and marketing.

So, now it's time to move on to Natural Skincare Product Development

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