ISO maintains tabled guidelines aim for consistent framework and to encourage innovation

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

ISO maintains tabled guidelines aim for consistent framework and to encourage innovation

Related tags: Standardization

With no harmonised technical data on natural and organic cosmetics in place, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) tabled draft guidelines (16128) which it maintains will create a consistent framework and encourage a wider choice of ingredients.

There has been scrutiny of the proposed guidelines with questions over whether they will just cause further confusion and aren’t as strong as current standards​ on the market.

Definitions and criteria

The ISO 16128 provides guidelines on definitions and criteria for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products.

These guidelines are specific to the cosmetics sector, taking into account that most existing approaches written for the agricultural and food sector are not directly transferrable to cosmetics.

“They apply scientific judgment and offer principles towards a consistent logical framework for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products incorporating common approaches employed in existing references,”​ says the standard.

“The purpose of these guidelines is to encourage a wider choice of natural and organic ingredients in the formulation of a diverse variety of cosmetic products to encourage innovation.”


The ISO standards are not freely available, which has been a criticism with regards to transparency, but the organisation says this is because developing, publishing, and maintaining ISO standards incurs a cost, and revenues from selling them helps ISO and its members to cover an important part of these costs.

“Charging for standards allows us to ensure that they are developed in an impartial environment and therefore meet the needs of all stakeholders for which the standard is relevant. This is essential if standards are to remain effective in the real world,”​ Dr Alain Khaiat, Chair of the committee tells

The ISO adds that its members have every right to agree or disagree with the content of the standard and to voice this opinion, as this aids discussion and negotiations for a draft standard.

As soon as a draft has been developed it is shared with ISO’s members who are asked to comment and vote on it. If a consensus is reached the draft becomes an ISO standard, if not it goes back to the technical committee for further edits.

“The whole process is based on the idea of finding consensus between interested parties, but consensus of course does not mean that everyone is always in 100% agreement,”​ adds Dr Khaiat, who is also founder of SEERS Consulting.

“Regarding substantiation, the remit of these standards does not cover product claims, rather they focus on definitions and criteria.”

ISO 16128

The ISO 16128 guidelines are in two parts: ISO/FDIS 16128-1 and ISO/DIS 16128-2.

The first part is currently under Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) ballot, which ends in November; and the latter which is currently under the enquiry ballot, which concludes at the end of November

The final draft of ISO/FDIS 16128-1 will then be shared with all ISO members for a vote, and if approved, will be published beginning of 2016, whereas part two is at a slightly earlier stage in the ISO process and so it may well be published a little later than Part 1, according to the Geneva-based body.

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