To Certify our Organic Skincare Organic or Not
My skincare is for real women, I focus on ingredients that actually make a difference.
I like organic; I like my skincare ingredients to not have been fiddled with too much.
And I definitely prefer them without pesticides.
So if I use organic ingredients, why am I not certified with one of the big certification bodies, eg Soil Association or Ecocert etc.?
This is a question that I get asked a lot, so here goes…
What is Organic Skincare?
Organic refers to a system of agriculture used to grow skincare ingredients. This means a system of agriculture producing ingredients sustainably without chemicals and synthetics which are widely used in the industry today.
This allows ingredients to be tracked from where they grow to where they end up in your favourite skincare products.
What does Organic Certification Mean?
There are a number of bodies that accredit or certify skincare.
To achieve certification with one of these means that products have to comply with the organisation's specific requirements relating to ingredients and sourcing of these.
The different bodies often have different rules around what counts as organic, and what counts as natural.
At the time of writing, for a product to be certified as organic with the Soil Association /COSMOS, it has to be made with a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. There is often an accompanying 'natural' certification, so COSMOS Natural for example, which does not need to contain any organic ingredients.
If you take Eco Cert by comparison, to be able to use their organic badge a product has to contain 95% organic ingredients and for its natural and organic badge, a product has to be made from 50% organic ingredients.
The objective with any of the big certification bodies is to substantiate a brand does what it says it does, and to improve consumer clarity.
And who could argue with that, not me. I'm all for clarity and transparency, I have built my business around this.
So what's the Catch?
To achieve certification with one of these larger bodies, there is a significant amount of red tape involved in what is essentially someone else checking that we do what we say we do. Assessing our formulations, packaging, suppliers and then signing a contract.
As you might expect there is a cost to this, all of the certification providers are businesses offering a service.
And not just a one off cost to achieve compliance but an annual retainer to maintain the right to use an organic badge.
For us as a micro business that sort of significant cost and administrative burden is simply not an option - at least not right now.
Our Organic Credentials
I go to great lengths to be transparent about our ingredients, where they come from, what they are, and what overall percentage of a product is made from certified organic ingredients.
For all of our skincare products, we list the ingredients in English in addition to the legally binding 'inci' nomenclature, (not just the ‘hero’ ingredients) and we also specify the percentage of overall ingredients in a product.
I manufacture all of our products in the UK and source all of our skincare ingredients in the UK; although they may originate from outside of the country eg Shea Butter from Africa etc.
I source these ingredients from reputable suppliers and ask for evidence to confirm the organic products we purchase are certified organic.
I work very hard to build trust and transparency with my customers which I feel is crucial, and I am open and honest when I talk to my customers about our ethos relating to our products and ingredients.
At a time when there are so many green claims about products that don't stack up, I passionately believe that organic matters.
Organic raw ingredients are many times more expensive than their regular counterpart. Couple that with the huge growth in green skincare and the desire to piggy back on this growth and you find some producers being a little 'creative' with their marketing.
A common marketing tactic by the large retailers when they find they are losing market share to small indie brands like The Rose Tree, is to shove organic in large letters across a label dotted with delicate flower drawings.
But the crux is that when you look at the ingredients you realise that only one single ingredient is organic and it has been added on as an afterthought right at the end of the list of ingredients - where the overall percentage is smallest.
Greenwashing as its best! Where the labelling suggests that a product is organic and/or natural with only a small percentage of ingredients actually being so.
It's up to you to check out those ingredients to see what's really organic - and play the marketers at their own game.
What's Next for The Rose Tree?
I stand by our organic skincare, bath, body products, and aromatherapy candles. I spend my time sourcing the best ingredients that I can and in turn creating them into amazing organic products.
I focus on ingredients that actually make a difference and have designed products to be first and foremost effective. To make my customers lives easier, to care for and nourish skin in an honest way. I believe that goes some way in explaining the multiple awards we have received.
This small scale style of manufacturing is very different to the mass market skincare approach.
But it gives me more flexibility, with ingredients, with the proportions of these ingredients and being able to make decisions based on what my customers want and need.
Of course that doesn't mean I get it right all of the time.
Hundreds of bath oil bottles arriving with tops that do not fit. (Really happened - and I've still got boxes of them)!
Or ordering non-organic shea butter instead of organic. (As I couldn't use this in my skincare for sale, my friends benefitted from A LOT of whipped body butters).
Any small business owner will tell you that the biggest challenge when running your own business is time.
Although I outsource some business activities, I am still the product manager, marketing manager, operations manager, customer services manager and usually the IT fixer person also.
And at the end of the day it comes down to wanting to spend my limited time and budget on bringing you more organic goodies - and not on more red tape and administration.
This might change in the future, but for now bearing in mind our size and resources I believe it is the right decision.
What do you think? How important is an organic badge?