Premium Beauty News - In only few years, NATRUE has succeeded to become one of the main labels for natural and organic cosmetics in Europe.

Julie Tyrrell - First of all, when NATRUE was established - in 2007 - the intention was not to come out with a label for natural and organic cosmetics. The European manufacturers who joined forces and founded NATRUE had encouraged discussions that led to the Cosmos standard [1] but they did not find the outcome satisfactory. At that time, the European cosmetics directive was going through a process of simplification that eventually led to the new regulation [2]. Thus, we thought it would be possible to introduce provisions about natural and organic cosmetics within the framework of the new regulation. However, when I opened the NATRUE secretariat, in 2008, it was already too late.

NATRUE’s founding members were pioneers in Europe in the field of natural cosmetics. For instance, companies such as Weleda and Dr. Hauschka have been operating in this market for 90 years! They always campaigned in favour of international - not national - standards, with stringent and transparent criteria. They want natural and organic standards for cosmetic products to be consumer driven, not something the industry is fitting to a trend.

Julie Tyrrell, NATRUE

Premium Beauty News - NATRUE and NSF International recently announced their partnership to develop the first U.S. national standard for natural cosmetics.

Julie Tyrrell - This initiative is not new for NATRUE. Today the market for natural and organic cosmetics is international and many players in this market are international too.

As soon as it was founded, NATRUE had discussions with its US counterparts. In January 2009, a NATRUE delegation went to the US and met with the Natural Products Association (NPA) and with NSF International with the objective to join forces to be bear the industry thought at a transatlantic level. Unfortunately, since that time NPA has been holding us back because of unanswered questions regarding ingredients and the certification process. As far as NATRUE is concerned, things are clear. Harmonisation needs to agree on common criteria but also on transparent certification processes. Despite visits to the USA and an important number of conference calls, we were not able to clear up these questions.

Meanwhile however we agreed with NSF International on the mutual recognition between their NSF 305 and the NATRUE Level 2 [3]. We also recently signed a memorandum of understanding for the use of the NATRUE Level 1 (natural cosmetics) as the basis for an ANSI (American International Standards Institute) standard. Indeed, the existing NPA standard is not recognised by ANSI, it’s a private standard. What NATRUE wants is not just a standard, but stringent and internationally harmonised criteria the consumers can trust.

ANSI, which is the ISO official representative in the USA, requires American standards to be elaborated in a transparent and open process, with all stakeholders being represented. That is what we seek too: transparency, stringent criteria, independent certification, open process, harmonization.

Premium Beauty News – Commenting on the co-operation between NATRUE and NSF in view of a new standard, NPA said it would do “no service to natural products customers, retailers, or manufacturers. [4]

Julie Tyrrell - The future ANSI standard will differ from the NPA one as it will not be a private standard but an official US standard. NPA was invited to join this process, and still can, the original idea was to work with them.

In view of the inability to make any progress with NPA, we informed them before Christmas that we would go ahead, anyway, because we want an ANSI standard providing clarity for consumers and a better international harmonisation. NPA is still welcome to join the process.

Actually, we are somewhat frustrated about NPA and their behaviour.

Premium Beauty News - Is this partnership between NATRUE and NSF independent from economic considerations?

Julie Tyrrell - There is absolutely no direct financial interests in this collaboration. NATRUE is a 100% not for profit organisation, and there is no financial interest for NATRUE in this partnership! NATRUE is a membership-based organisation, and we get an administrative fee for each product that is certified under one of the three levels of the NATRUE standard. [5]

Premium Beauty News - How do you ensure transparency?

Julie Tyrrell - Our website is an important tool for transparency. Every single NATRUE-certified product enjoys a whole dedicated webpage, including its name, its certification level, what makes it special, information concerning the companies behind the product etc. In practice, at the point of sale (POS), that is to say where it really matters, consumers can simply use their cell phones to scan the QR-tag that is on NATRUE-certified products, or enter the corresponding short URL in a web browser, and thus reach all this detailed information.

The QR-tag is already widespread in Asia and is becoming increasingly common in Europe. We are at the leading edge of this innovative. For us the POS is a point of experience, where products must “speak” to consumers, tell about what they contain or not contain, etc.

The QR-tag is really a great opportunity for natural cosmetics makers because they have so much to say about their products.

Premium Beauty News - What will be the benefits of the co-operation between NATRUE and NSF?

Julie Tyrrell - The key benefit of harmonization between standards is clarity for consumers. As far as manufacturers are concerned, our aim is to lower the cost of certification. We try to work with certification bodies that are common to both standards. In practice, for instance, it means only one factory audit instead of two. It is really important in an industry where there are many small companies. Also it should not be forgotten that multiple certification costs also impact the cost of the end product to the consumer so harmonization also plays a positive role in this regard, it is a win-win situation.

Premium Beauty News - What about the future of the natural cosmetics market?

Julie Tyrrell - In my opinion, the biggest danger is green-washing and watered down standards. One year after the launch of NATRUE we commissioned a study that revealed that consumers have lost trust in the industry. I think, the danger is that nature-inspired companies look for the easiest solution instead of really working to provide high quality natural and organic products.

Premium Beauty News – What about the perspectives regarding international harmonisation?

Julie Tyrrell - I am quite positive about this. Considering the discussions we are having at a global level, I am sure it is possible. NATRUE is there to ensure the definition of natural cosmetics will still rely on stringent criteria, and the partnership with NSF is a step in this direction. And there are other initiatives on the way.