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ISO 16128 part 2: The “first harmonisation text” provides clarity on finished cosmetics content

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

 ISO 16128 part 2: The “first harmonisation text” provides clarity on finished cosmetics contents

Related tags European union Cosmetics

With Part 2 of ISO 16128 being released ahead of schedule, we continued our conversation with Dr Laurent Sousselier, Chief scientific officer, UNITIS (European Organisation of Cosmetics Ingredients Industries and Services) on how the standard aims to provide clarification on claims and the contents of finished cosmetics.

Published in September 2017, earlier than the expected date of early 2018, Part 2 of ISO 16128 provides the criteria for ingredients and products. It outlines the various indexes (from 0 to 1) for ingredients: natural index, natural origin index, organic index and organic origin index. Additionally, it lists rules for calculating the indexes of extracts.

Natural and organic contents
Sousselier expressed that it details an approach for the content of finished cosmetics: natural content, natural origin content, organic content and organic origin content. “Each of them can be expressed by including or excluding formulation water (formulation water is not organic so by excluding water, you obtain a higher index for organic content),”​ he observed.
Covering all natural and organic products, the purpose of drafting criteria for ingredients and products relates back to the fact that “consumers want to know what is inside their product”.

As a result, “the content will convey the message, can be certified by an independent body and can be used to make claims”.

On 28th September 2017, FEBEA, the French federation of cosmetic companies, released a press release detailing how ISO 16128 creates an international standard that defines biological or natural ingredients.

The Federation asserts that as the second part of ISO 16128 has just been published​, the “first harmonisation text on organic or natural ingredients”​ indicates that global cosmetics players are “all speaking the same language”.

With the aim of defining a universal terminology for organic and natural ingredients, after more than six years of collaboration between cosmetics companies, academics and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the international standard can now be applied.

While the first part of the standard (ISO 16128-1)​ sets out the distinguishing features of four types of ingredients: organic, derived organic, natural and derived natural, this standard strives to help cosmetic ingredient manufacturers specify which category the ingredients they use and promote belong to, the press release states.

Not designed to for claims or labelling?

Despite its efforts to provide clarification for the natural and organic space, FEBEA holds that this standard is not designed to “comment on product claims or to be a label”​ and “is not intended to specify the conditions under which a product may be classified as natural or organic, nor even if ingredients will be authorised or prohibited in a natural or organic product”.

A purpose of the standard is to indicate whether a particular ingredient is natural or organic. In addition, the international standard also states that “GMOs are only allowed in those regions of the world where they are permitted” ​— therefore not in the European Union — and “alcohol denaturants are allowed where they are mandatory for tax reasons”.

Natural progression

While this standard enables the European Commission to define the specific conditions where cosmetics products can claim to be natural or organic, this situation already exists in France and noted in the ARPP rules.

Under these, a natural cosmetic product must contain at least 95% of natural or derived natural ingredients. An organic cosmetic product must contain only organic ingredients or conform to a public specification of private labels.

As private European labels including COSMOS and NATRUE were prevalent in the development of the standard, FEBEA states that these labels and others can add further requirements to specifications, certify products and also add branding elements such as a logo.

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