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NPA Defines What's Natural in Personal Care

May 1, 2008

Burt's Bees and Weleda are on hand as new certification process and seal is unveiled in New York City.

 

The new NPA seal was unveiled May 1.

NPA Defines What’s Natural in Personal Care


Burt’s Bees and Weleda on hand as a new certification process and seal is unveiled in New York City.




Christine Esposito
Associate Editor



With the number of natural products and sales skyrocketing, the natural personal care market has been a hotbed of activity in recent years. And some also say a hotbed of controversy, too.


As consumer demand for green products continues to rise, the market has become flooded with new companies positioning themselves and their products as natural. But according to hard core natural product companies, there is hardly anything “natural” about many of them, and in fact, they are doing the natural products market—and consumers—a disservice.


By using naturals as a marketing tool rather than a corporate philosophy and formulation methodology, companies are watering down the meaning of what is truly natural and causing confusion for consumers.


The Natural Products Association (NPA), the U.S.’s largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry, is out to set the record straight by defining criteria that will explain exactly which products in the $7 billion natural personal care market are really natural.     


Representing more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, the association unveiled a new voluntary standard and certification program that defines natural and includes a special seal at a press conference held in New York City on May 1.


The standard was developed by a team of experts from NPA and an advisory panel that included representatives from natural personal care manufacturers that included Burt’s Bees, Weleda, Aubrey Organics, W.S. Badger, Farmaesthetics and Trilogy Fragrances.


A main goal of the standard, according to NPA, is to better educate consumers.


Erk Schuchhardt, president and CEO of Weleda North America, discusses the impact of the NPA standard program in New York City.
“Now that this industry has reached a certain critical size, we feel there is a need to address the consumer confusion on this issue,” said Erik Schuchhardt, president and chief executive officer of Weleda North America, who serves as an advisor on NPA’s Natural Personal Standard and Certification Program committee.


Committee chair Mike Indursky, who is chief marketing and strategic officer of Burt’s Bees, said consumers are being mislead by companies—even those that are “well-intentioned”— which tout “products that aren’t natural, but are positioned that way.”  


Experts on the panel suggest as little as 20% of the products in the $7 billion natural personal care products marketplace are truly natural.


According to Mr. Indursky, the natural products industry has a responsibility and that is why “we band together as competitors to do the right thing for the consumer.”

 

The Standard



Under the new program, products must follow strict guidelines set out by NPA. The basic criteria states that the product must be made up of at least 95% truly natural ingredients or ingredients that are derived from natural sources and it can’t contain ingredients with any suspected human health risks or
 Mike Indursky, chief marketing and strategic officer, Burt's Bees.
use processes that significantly or adversely alter the purity/effect of the natural ingredients. In addition, ingredients must come from a purposeful, renewable/plentiful source found in nature (flora, fauna or mineral). Non-natural ingredients can be used only when viable natural alternative ingredients are unavailable and only when there are absolutely no suspected potential human health risks, according to NPA.


So what products are out of bounds? Parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, petrolatum/mineral oil/paraffin, chemical sunscreens such as avobenzone and oxybenzone, glycols, phthalates, ethoxylated ingredients (sodium myreth sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, PEGs or PPGs) ethanolamines such as MEA/DEA/TEA, synthetic polymers and formaldehyde donors are all prohibited. More specific details on the standard are available at NPA’s website, www.naturalproductsassoc.org

Clearing The Clutter



The NPA and members on the advisory board are billing the standard as a way to bring clarity and transparency and clear the “clutter” in the marketplace—not to be exclusive, point fingers or “slam” synthetic ingredients.


“We are trying to lift everyone up,” said Curt Valva, general manager of Aubrey Organics. “The idea is to bring people up...but to do so, you have to formulate up to these standards.”


Mr. Schuchhardt of Weleda added that they are “ raising the bar as far as formulation and transparency is concerned.”


Companies that seek certification will need to have 60% of their products certified before they can use the seal. NPA expects the first products sporting the new seal to roll out in the coming months.
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