The pandemic has considerably impacted consumption habits. For more than 72% of French people, consuming less and better has become a requirement [1]. Inevitably, this consumer trend has impacted the cosmetics sector and brands have had to reinvent themselves. In 2021, the number of products certified organic or natural by Ecocert increased by 30%. The French market for natural and organic cosmetics is also booming, with growth of 12% in 2021, while sales of consumer cosmetics are down 6.1%. [2].

Requirement for ethics and transparency

Today, 74% of French people questioned would like to have more information on the environmental and societal impact of the products they buy [3]. This is the whole point of certification, emphasizes Ecocert, because it guarantees compliance with demanding specifications. Thus, more than 29,000 products and 18,000 ingredients in some fifty countries are now certified under the COSMOS Organic or Natural label by Ecocert.

To go even further, the Ecocert Group is committed to labeling so-called ethical cosmetic products and ingredients with the Fair For Life (FFL) label. Created in 2006, Fair for Life is an international fair trade label for food, cosmetics, textiles and crafts. It applies throughout the supply chain, from production to distribution, to secure supply chains and establish fair contractual partnerships over time. This translates into long-term contractual commitments: a fair purchase price, a guaranteed minimum price, the financing of collective projects, a commitment on the expected volumes, pre-financing, technical support, etc.

In 2021, the number of beauty brands with the Fair For Life label rises to 33, with nearly 350 products. These figures are indeed quite low, given the size of the global beauty market, but they could increase in the years to come with the redefinition of certain criteria on June 1, 2022.

Adapt to labeling rules

The new version of the Fair For Life labeling standard aims to adapt to the reality of the cosmetics market and certain products with complex formulas. Prior to this update, all ingredients were checked except for water, salt and minerals.

From June 1, 2022, petrochemical preservatives and so-called complex ingredients of natural origin, which in practice cannot be labeled as ethical and fair trade, will also be excluded. For Ecocert, the objective is to make the system accessible to more companies to help them structure themselves and engage in an ever more ethical approach centered on people, their working conditions and their fair remuneration.

Valuing raw materials

For 15 years, the Ecocert teams have seen the list of cosmetic ingredients labeled Fair For Life grow. Fair trade sectors of the cosmetics industry offer some 80 increasingly diversified ingredients such as shea butter, argan oil, aloe vera, moringa, coconut oil, sesame oil, or the illipé butter, recently certified by Expanscience…

Being labeled Fair For Life will allow brands to recover raw materials that they use in their cosmetic products,” Explain Pauline RaffaitinHead of the Home & Personal Care Business Unit of Ecocert.

It is also an opportunity for certain brands to consolidate their historical commitments. Thus, for Justine HumbertResponsible for Biodiversity & Sustainable Ingredients of the L’Occitane Group, ethical cosmetics requires products that, “through their manufacture, distribution and use, respect both women and men (whether they are employees, suppliers, partners or consumers of the company) and the environment.

For L’Occitane, which benefits from the double label – COSMOS and Fair For Life – for some of its ingredients and products, fair trade certification is both proof of commitment in terms of commercial practices and support for our partners, but also, specifies Justine Humbert, “a very structuring approach to secure our supplies.” A concern that could not be more topical!

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