Green Seal, a non-profit environmental organization headquartered in Washington D.C., is introducing a standard for certification of personal care and cosmetic products.

Called GS-50, the new standard is presented as the first in the personal care and cosmetics category in the U.S. to cover the whole product life-cycle. It establishes environmental, health, and performance requirements for products such as lotions, hair spray and styling products, sunscreen, nail polish, insect repellant, makeup, antiperspirant and deodorant. It complements the Green Seal standard for Soaps and Shower Products (GS-44).

As other Green Seal standards, GS-50 is conceived as a tool for manufacturers to improve the environmental footprint of their products and can be freely downloaded. Interested companies can validate those improvements through certification and thus label the “Green Seal” on their products.

The Personal Care and Cosmetics category has been the focus of much consumer concern in relation to the environmental and health impacts of ingredients and manufacturing processes used,” says Dr. Arthur Weissman, President & CEO of Green Seal. “It was imperative then that Green Seal develop standards that address these concerns and make it possible for consumers to identify those products that have been independently certified to have less impact.

To achieve certification, manufacturers need to satisfy performance, health and environmental, social responsibility, packaging and labelling requirements, as well as providing definitions for common claims such as “natural”, “organic” and “biobased”. The evaluation process includes review of data; assessment of labelling, marketing and promotional materials; and an on-site audit of manufacturing facilities. Annual monitoring is also conducted for those awarded the "Green Seal" to ensure continued compliance.

Certification allows manufacturers to feature the “Green Seal” - an eco-label that assures a product is safer for health and the environment. According to Green Seal, such third party certification is going to be a key asset in the context of the upcoming release of the new FTC Green Guides for Environmental Marketing Claims will likely result in more scrutiny of claims made on products and how the claims are substantiated.