Green and good? Unfortunately, it is not always easy to recognize genuine natural cosmetics. So-called greenwashing is particularly misleading: conventional products evoke environmentally friendly imagery in order to appear especially sustainable and natural, even though they are purely synthetic in most cases. So what should you do if you’re not an expert on ingredients and INCI declarations? You’re in luck, because you can usually identify natural beauty products by means of corresponding seals. One of these seals is the COSMOS certification which you can find on BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE products.

Environmentally friendly, sustainable and natural: that’s what many brands claim to be. However, you need to take a really close look to see whether such a claim is legitimate or whether such brands twist the facts. Do terms like “plant-based cosmetics” or products with “ingredients of natural origin” really stand for genuine natural cosmetics? The only reliable indication in this context is a close look at the INCI list – or the use of reliable seals for natural cosmetics.

One for all

There are several international standards whose seals can be found on natural beauty products. Sometimes, this maze of seals can be really confusing. In 2010, the regulatory bodies BDIH, Ecocert, Cosmebio, ICEA and Soil Association thus jointly issued the harmonized COSMOS standard as the common seal for natural cosmetics standards in Europe. The most important advantage is the uniform certification as well as the easily recognizable seal: thanks to COSMOS, you can rely on the established labels of the aforementioned bodies and recognize all products which bear the COSMOS seal to be products corresponding to the harmonized standard.

[Photo by COSMOS]

It’s all about nature

It’s easily explained what the seal is all about: cosmetic products which bear the COSMOS seal consist of purely natural ingredients.

  • In very complex procedures, valuable plant-based oils, fats, waxes as well as extracts from blossoms, herbs, fruits and seeds are processed to become formulations which provide long-lasting care and strengthen the natural functions of skin and hair.
  • What these products do not contain are irritating or even harmful chemical substances which are suspected of being health risks.
  • There are clear definitions of natural substances and very strict requirements for the use of organic raw materials.
  • Another requirement is an eco-friendly production and the protection of animals and species. The most important factor is a global prohibition of animal tests, a strict restriction of animal-based raw materials and the use of genetic technology.
  • In addition, there are the principles of “green chemistry”: increased requirements regarding environmental compatibility and decomposability of the raw materials used. There are also requirements concerning the packaging.

In short: COSMOS requires and reviews that products are “green” from top to bottom and that all standards are complied with. Each and every product is checked individually. If a product fails to pass the test for one single criterion, the product is not permitted to bear the COSMOS seal.

The COSMOS standard differentiates between the control of natural cosmetics (COSMOS natural) and the certification of organic cosmetics (COSMOS organic). The strict basic requirements are identical for both levels. In case of organic cosmetics, however, a high share of the formulation’s ingredients has to originate from organic cultivation.

You can find the COSMOS label as a well-earned quality seal on all BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE products.


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