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Terminology in the cosmetic industry

One of the problems of people is that we are overwhelmed with options. Everywhere and in everything we do, we have to choose what we want. This is also the case with cosmetic products. When we are at the drugstore, we are overwhelmed by the wide range of different labels. Vegan, natural, organic, et cetera. But what do these labels mean? In this article, we discuss the different terminology used to describe a cosmetic product. Because what is a natural cosmetic exactly?


Meaning: existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.

This is the term with which we identify our products. As said in the description, natural cosmetics are made from materials sourced from nature, such as plants and minerals. The materials are processed as little as possible and ensure the most negligible potential impact on humans, animals, and the earth. The natural cosmetic must contain a minimum of natural substances and a maximum level of derived natural substances.

Below are the characteristics of a natural cosmetic stated:

  • Ingredients must come from plants, flowers and mineral origins found in nature

  • No genetically modified ingredients

  • No parabens, sulfates or other harmful substances

  • Limited or no petrochemical ingredients

  • Ingredients are never tested on animals

  • The manufacturing process retains the integrity of the natural ingredients


Meaning: produced or involving production without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.

As the description of the word already stated, organic products are made without harmful pesticides. Pesticides are substances used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or animals. The primary criterion in obtaining organic cosmetic certification is the proportion of natural ingredients in the final product. This must be at least 95%. The second criterion relates to the balance of those natural ingredients that are also organically produced. This must be at least 10%, but all of the natural ingredients are organic in some cases. Thus, there is considerable room for manoeuvre concerning this category of product.

Below are the characteristics of a natural cosmetic stated:

  • No manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilizers

  • No artificial or synthetic colours, preservatives or chemicals

  • No regular use of antibiotics

  • No genetically modified organisms or growth regulators

  • A minimal number of pesticides allowed

  • More sustainable property management


Meaning: eating, using, or containing no food or other products derived from animals.

A vegan product does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. This includes, but is not limited to, honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, and many others. To many, the term vegan also means that a product is free from animal testing. Because the term is not regulated, it is often used to note that a product does not contain animal ingredients. Items that are tested on animals can claim to be "vegan". This is a crucial distinction because a vegan product is not necessarily cruelty-free.


Meaning: (of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve animals' cruelty.

Cruelty-Free means that the components and final product have not been tested on animals. It refers to the testing process, not the ingredients themselves, which means a cruelty-free product can contain non-vegan ingredients, such as honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, or gelatin.

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