Thursday, September 30, 2010Professional bodies

NaTrue without its stars

©L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

We were just getting used to seeing them on the labels, we have to forget them! The stars that differentiated the three levels of NaTrue label requirements for natural cosmetics are disappearing in favour of a single logo. Explanations.

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Since its creation in 2008 after a split with the COSMOS working group “COSMOS, it’s for tomorrow! (All right, rather the day after tomorrow…)”, the NaTrue label defines three different levels of certification, ranging from “only” natural to “real” organic cosmetics.
Until then, these three statuses were differentiated by stars next to the logo, from one star for the least demanding level to three for the most accomplished. A code that has just been abandoned, in the name of simplifying the message sent to the consumer.

A start error

“We conducted a consumer survey at the end of last year,” explains Vincent Letertre, Technical Director at NaTrue. “This study showed that consumers were not receptive to the star system. They didn’t understand it…”.
In fact, it appeared that this code could be confusing and was interpreted in a rather variable way in the different European countries. Some consumers confused it with the stars of hotels or restaurants, others saw them as asterisks to which they were looking in vain for what they could relate…

“It can be said that it was a kind of start-up error,” continues Vincent Letertre. “So we decided to change our communication strategy before too many products were certified, to make it clearer and more readable, but this does not change the levels of requirements.”
More stars, indeed, but always three different levels, than the manufacturer can specify if he wishes by means of a mention, or rather, quite logically, of three (“Natural” for natural cosmetics, “With Organic” for cosmetics partly organic, “Organic” for organic cosmetics).
And if the manufacturer only uses the logo on his label, the consumer can check the level of certification by going to the NaTrue website where all certified products are listed.

A reaffirmed positioning

“We work in complete transparency, all the information is available on our website,” insists Vincent Letertre. “We are very attentive to consumer expectations, this has always guided our work and our orientations.”
He recalls these main orientations, while regretting that the information has not yet been widely passed on to the French public: “NaTrue stands out from other labels in that it strives to certify only products that fully meet the expectations of consumers who want truly natural cosmetics. This means, for example, without the chemical modifications that other labels allow, without petrochemistry at all, and using synthetic ingredients only under very strict conditions. First of all, they must be nature-identical, i.e. they exist in their natural state, and also that their extraction from nature is a problem. Take the example of an iron oxide used as a colourant: on the one hand, it cannot be extracted simply, and on the other hand, it must meet purity requirements defined by regulations, which is impossible to obtain from a substance which inevitably contains undesirable compounds (such as heavy metals). But if a synthetic substance is used, such as a preservative, it must be clearly indicated on the label by the words:‘Contains…’.”
“We are not a for-profit company,” says Vincent Letertre. “Our first goal was not to create a label, but to work with European legislators to reach a regulatory definition of a natural cosmetic (a definition that still does not exist at the moment), and in collaboration with conventional cosmetics to avoid being too self-centered…”.

One thing is certain: while the COSMOS-Standard is still waiting, NaTrue continues to work and advances its pawns, by thinking more than ever of the international recognition of his criteria… The label war is not over yet!

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