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advantages of ISO 16128

Why the ISO 16128 makes sense for natural and organic cosmetics

After the first guideline for certified natural cosmetics was developed in 1997 and aroused great interest it did not take long for further signs for certified natural cosmetics to come onto the market. At the same time the labels themselves have become more and more complex due to the introduction of different categories.  Today the consumer is faced with an impenetrable tangle of different labels that he cannot distinguish. For this reason trade and consumer protection have been demanding an agreemant on a globally recognized natural cosmetics standard.
In this context the definition of a natural cosmetics standard as ISO with easy-to-understand indices for the natural content has some advantages.

Thus ISO standards are well known to both retailers and consumers. Especially in the area of ​​purchasing the reduction to a uniform standard for natural and organic cosmetics with indices for natural content is of further importance, since retailers only need to know the meaning of the indices instead of using countless guidelines that define different quality. 

For the consumer there are advantages fsuch as a lower price, since the natural cosmetics companies save the license fees and no longer have to increase the product prices. The elimination of license fees enables small companies such as start-ups  to offer proven natural cosmetics, even if these companies cannot afford a budget for license costs. The saved license fees can be invested by the manufacturers in better raw material quality thereby further increasing the product quality. It is easier for consumers to find the right one for them because naturalness is advertised with easy-to-calculate numbers.

Both parts of ISO 16128 have now been published and some raw material companies are already calculating the indices. This is already a compulsory service for raw material providers. There are already products in the market advertising the calculated natural content, but without direct reference to ISO 16128.

Critics at the ISO 16128 seem above all to publish their thoughts on dubious potential of abuse of ISO 16128 and always focus on natural cosmetics with poor quality.These are the criticisms:

  • The ISO 16128 is just a definition and cannot be certified as a standard.
    • That is correct, but what is not mentioned is that the calculation method for the indices is certifiable
  • The certification according to ISO 16128 is incomprehensible.
    • Companies can publish the calculation basis on their company website
  • There are no content limits or categories anymore
    • On the contrary, this is actually an advantage as there are no complicated categories and instead simple numbers are given for the natural content
  • The ISO 16128 does not correspond to the consumer understanding of natural cosmetics
    • In Europe the consumer is faced with a jungle of lables, but globally this is not the case. The global consumer understanding relates to the ISO 16128.
  • It lacks a positive list
    •  Positive lists are not important for the consumer, and experts can deduce the suitability of a substance for natural cosmetics from the standard

The ISO 16128 offers advantages for


  • easy to understand for consumers
  • clear, easy to understand contents
  • easy recognition of high quality natural authenticity


  • focuses on the core: the natural and organic product content
  • gives easy-to-understand numbers for advertising and packaging imprint
  • has no complicated category divisions that consumers do not understand
  • has clear numbers for natural or organic substances and allowed derivatives


  • no entry costs
  • does not require manufacturers to pay certification fees, licence fees or association membership
  • can be used quickly
  • calculation can be done in-house rather than through certifiers
  • Certifications customary up to now are not absolutely necessary
  • strict control through competition: competition legislation and Article 20 of the CPR
  • additional controls through official supervision (did not take place with usual natural cosmetic labels so far)
  • end of market entry hurdles
  • again more offers of authentic natural cosmetics in the trade (no trade restriction by entry costs, just because one offers natural cosmetics)
  • more quality
  • Investments in product quality and not in license costs for labels and certification costs
  • individual brands, product concepts, plants and effects come back to the core
  • end of the label image freeloaders as „natural cosmetics companies“
  • new market opportunities for medium and small businesses

The molecular content of natural resources must be at least 50%. This gives high-quality natural cosmetics the opportunity to apply with much higher natural proportions of up to 100% and to stand out from ISO free riders.

Citation of criticism

  1. no regulations on the minimum content of natural or organic substances to highlight natural or organic cosmetics
  2. there are no requirements for product labeling or advertising claims
  3. safety aspects for humans and the environment are not treated
  4. there are no socio-economic criteria
  5. ethical aspects are not treated
    • genetically modified plants
    • raw materials of dead animals
    • animal experiments
  6. environmental and waste management are not covered
  7. there is no binding list of permitted and / or prohibited processes / substances
  8. ISO 16128 must be bought at a high price
  9. no harmonized standard

ICADA comments on the criticism:
(1) High quality does not require an indication of a minimum quantity, but is characterized by the highest possible proportion
(2), (3) These points are regulated in the KVO
(4) – (6) The aim of a natural and organic cosmetics definition is to define natural and organic cosmetics
(7) Support lists of permitted processes and substances are only for laymen without natural product knowledge
(8) The ISO 16128 does not have to be purchased, the calculation basis is open to the public. There are no annual fees for using ISO 16128
(9) Not yet