Formulation Tools & Guidelines

Why isn’t “Natural” good enough?

Written by Mark Fuller

In a previous blog I covered the term “natural” and why we need to follow a Natural Certification to make this a useful term. However, can we simply be “natural” and create an entirely ethical product line. My simple answer is no. I believe that we need to take it an additional step and address the overall issue of sustainability.

eco_friendly_logo.ai_[1]The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States makes this statement regarding sustainability; “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.” (Emphasis added).

As we read and digest this statement we can see that we should focus on the overall effect our raw materials and products have on the environment as well as future generations. A product can be “natural” and still have sustainability issues.

I would like to reference this article; This article addresses the impact that the increased popularity of Quinoa in both food and Cosmetic products has had on the indigenous populations. This material has gained a great deal of popularity in Cosmetics as it is gluten free and a great source of protein, especially in hair care. Many larger companies offer a “Quinoa Shampoo” and the end result is that the product is now too expensive for the Indigenous populations for whom this has been a dietary staple.

We can see similar issues with Palm Oil and deforestation. In the end it is not enough to simply be “natural” but to address the overall impact on the environment and society as a whole.

With this is in mind I would like to address a less common voluntary certifications which is administered by a Non-Governmental Organization; the “Leaping Bunny” Cruelty-free certification.

Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free Certification

CrueltyFreeLogo[1]The “Leaping Bunny Certification” is a voluntary program by which you certify that the raw materials you use and the final product that you sell were not tested on animals. The company provides the manufacturer with forms on which to declare that their products were never tested on animals. It is a simple administrative matter to forward these forms to your suppliers. It is generally an issue of finding the correct person in Technical Services to complete the declaration. The manufacturer of the finished product will also declare that their product was also not tested on animals. Once the information is submitted to Leaping Bunny, authorization is given to include their logo on your packaging and you can be listed in their directory of “Cruelty Free Cosmetic Companies.”

There is a demand for these certified products and it is not overly difficult to get the certification if this is a core goal of your product line. I would like to point out that in the end it really is more marketing than anything else. Due to the negatives of animal testing, this practice is practically nonexistent. New safety tests have replaced the most common animal tests. For example the performance of the “Draize Test” is commonly cited when we are confronted with animal testing. If you have ever seen pictures of the bunnies having product put in their eyes, this is the “Draize Test.” This is no longer commonly performed as there are now alternatives. Animal testing has almost entirely been done away with in Cosmetics. In fact the European Union (EU) enacted a complete ban on animal testing and it had little to no adverse effect on the Cosmetic Industry. In fact, recently the EU has discredited the “Free from Animal Testing” claim since it is a non-issue. You will find that in North America this is also the case.

In summary, we all want to make a safe, effective and ethical product. Simply trying to be “natural” is a great start, but it falls short. There is no legislated definition of “natural” and as such is a useless term. I always have my clients do it right and make products that are compliant with a defined Natural Standard. This gives you third party validation, allows you to be confidently natural and then allows you to move on to the more important issue; performance. However, to truly take this further we must address the overall effect our products have on the environment.

Mark Fuller is a professional cosmetic formulator and would be happy to help with any formulation needs that you have. Mention that Saffire Blue sent you to save $200 off your formulation advice fees.  You can contact him through his website

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