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Différences cosmétiques naturels et bio.

Natural Cosmetics and "Organic" Cosmetics: What are the Differences?

Natural and organic skincare has been gaining momentum in recent years. Body lotions, serums, moisturizing creams, makeup products, shampoos... All these products strive to stand out with increasingly natural formulas. What are the criteria to establish that a cosmetic is natural? What is the composition of a product labeled as organic? What are the differences between the two? Here are some insights.

Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Natural Cosmetics: What are we talking about?

According to the ISO 16128 standard, a cosmetic is considered natural when it contains at least 95% of ingredients of natural origin. This standard, resulting from the deliberation of several cosmetic stakeholders, allows for the harmonized description of natural or organic ingredients. A maximum of 5% of chemical products is thus tolerated in their composition. Sometimes, the proportion of natural elements can reach 99%. All cosmetic formulations can be qualified as natural: soaps, creams, lotions, serums, shampoos, pure oils...

It is important to note that natural ingredients can have a plant-based origin (plants, bark, algae, etc.), mineral or even animal (products derived from farming). These elements can be presented in their raw form, or be transformed via a non-chemical or chemical process. In the case of transformation involving a chemical process, it is necessary that the following conditions are met:

  • The ingredient must be produced by a chemical reaction between several natural components;

  • The process must fulfill the conditions related to environmental protection and avoid any production of polluting residues;

  • The chemical transformation should allow for the creation of a new ingredient or provide a specific texture to the targeted skincare product.

Typology stands out for its formulations with high percentages of naturalness, often composed of more than 95% natural ingredients.

Organic Skincare: What Exactly Is It?

A bio cosmetic is a natural cosmetic subject to stricter criteria. Thus, all bio care products are natural care products, but not all natural care products are bio. The conditions for a cosmetic to be considered bio vary slightly depending on the labels. However, the following criteria are generally often found:

  • The formula must be composed of at least 95% naturally derived ingredients;

  • At least 95% of the plant-based ingredients it contains must be derived from organic farming;

  • The product must contain at least 20% organic ingredients (10% for rinse-off products).

Note : Water or minerals are not considered organic because they are not derived from agriculture. However, water is one of the major constituents of many cosmetic formulas (often nearly 80%), which explains the proportion of 20% organic ingredients in the total product.

Furthermore, there exists a list of prohibited substances for organic cosmetics. Indeed, ingredients of petrochemical origin, nanomaterials, GMOs, and ingredients controversial for environmental reasons such as palm oil are banned from these formulas. Certain polluting transformation techniques such as ionization or ethoxylation are also prohibited.

Typology products belonging to the PLANTS range are certified organic and meet the naturalness criteria of the COSMOS label.

How to Identify Natural and Organic Skincare Products?

Recognizing a natural product or an organic product is not always an easy task. To navigate this, it is good to refer to certain recognized labels. Among the most reputable certifications awarded to natural care products, we find the Nat and Cosmos Natural labels from Cosmebio. Organic care products, on the other hand, must carry a label from a private certification body. This could be the Ecocert label, Nature and Progress, or even BIDH.

Advice : Cosmetics with certifications can be identified by their clearly visible label present on their packaging and container.


  • Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Official Journal of the European Union (2009).

  • International Organization for Standardization - ISO 16128-2: 2017 standard for cosmetics.


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