Understanding COSMOS - the COSMetics Organic and natural Standard

by Alex Cosper on January 25, 2018

The COSMOS standard provides  international industry guidelines for organic and natural products to cosmetics producers  or marketer and certifies compliance.

What is COSMOS?

Minimum common requirements for organic and natural certification in Europe were established by COSMOS, which stands for COSMetic Organic and Natural Standard. It was developed by the following five members:

The five members united in 2002 at international organic trade show Biofach in Nuremberg to collaborate on developing one standard that fused ideas from individual standards for organic and natural cosmetics. The sharing of ideas brought the organisations closer together in agreeing upon objectives and differences. The COSMOS standard was released to the public in 2008 and became effective in January 2010.

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The five COSMOS members based their collective approach on the Ecocert standard, which encompasses various aspects of organic farming and manufacturing processes. COSMOS not only promotes organic ingredients, it emphasizes sustainability as a primary production and manufacturing concern. That means using materials that are safe for the environment and human health. COSMOS also works on developing the concept of green chemicals.

One of the most important principles of the standard is to respect the environment. It emphasizes economic efficiency, which is part of an eco-friendly vision since less materials and waste are green solutions. The standard also emphasizes promoting organic products while embracing biodiversity. It further identifies five categories of ingredients and how they should be used. Those categories are water, minerals, physically-processed and chemically-processed agro-ingredients and miscellaneous other ingredients.

The COSMOS standard is issued with three documents: the Control Manual, Labelling Rules and Technical Guide. Annexes to the standard elaborate on ingredients, treatments, chemical reactions and other processes related agro-ingredients. The standard annex also goes into further depth about the following:

  • total product composition of organic content
  • cleanliness of storage, manufacturing and packaging
  • environmental management and concerns
  • clarity of product labelling
  • annual inspection, certification and control

Certification and Labelling Requirements

EcoCert-Cosmos-Attestation-EN.pngIn order to gain authorization as a cosmetics brand using the COSMOS standard, firms must apply to the COSMOS standard AISBL. Desjardin provides Cosmos approved aluminum tins with screw-lids. They have received written approval of compliance to the Cosmos standard by the French  certification body EcoCert.  Using Desjardin's approved packaging will support the cosmetic manufacturer's certification process as the compliance of the packaging is already approved and documented.

Approval of product labeling is part of the certification process. The label cannot be printed and placed on the market until it has gained full approval by the authorized COSMOS standard certification body. The certification body must also be notified if the producer or marketer wishes to make any changes to a product or its labeling. The vendor must await approval from the certification body.

If the vendor wants to make changes to the organic ingredients or percentage of organic content, they must first get written approval for a certificate update. The product must be listed on the COSMOS standard certificate prior to the launch. Failing to comply with the certification body for any given product could mean the certification body may demand withdrawing those products. A product label must clarify the identity of the certification body, the nature of the certification and other details. 

4 Different Cosmos Signatures

The cosmos standard provides the following signatures and labels. They must always appear in conjunction with  logo of an association, standards organisation or certification body  who certified the product. This body needs to be a member or associate member of the COSMOS-standard AISBL.

  • COSMOS ORGANIC signature: products under organic certification of the COSMOS-standard
  • COSMOS NATURAL signature: cosmetic products under natural certification of the COSMOS-standard
  • COSMOS CERTIFIED signature: cosmetic ingredients with organic content that are certified to the COSMOS-standard
  • COSMOS APPROVED signature (not obligatory): cosmetic ingredients with no organic content that are approved for use in products certified to the COSMOS-standard. 


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References and Further Reading

Topics: Sustainability, Private Label Cosmetics, Cosmos, Cosmetic Packaging

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