Are cosmetic rating Apps worth your time and attention?

We might not seem very objective with this article since we are a cosmetic brand. But we have noticed many unfairly bad ratings for products of industry colleagues on cosmetics rating apps, and even for some of our products…

But then, you would have been lied to? Are organic products not as “organic” and “clean” as they claim? How else can you justify their poor ratings and “danger” labels? In this article, we wanted to explain these surprising inconsistencies, with all the objectivity we can muster.

The value of cosmetic rating applications

When we take our courage in both hands and turn over a cosmetic product to read its detailed INCI list, our courage can quickly run out when we find ourselves :

  • facing a list of 50 ingredients
  • or facing ingredients with barbaric names.

Of course we caricature, all INCI lists are not difficult to decipher. But it can sometimes take time to get into the habit of doing it ourselves, simply because INCI lists are often written in Latin, and there are thousands of different ingredients. So it takes a little practice!

That is why applications to decipher cosmetics are so practical. They usually offer a rating system for cosmetics, in addition to deciphering the list of ingredients.

But why are some ingredients of organic products rated badly?

Not all cosmetics rating applications are concerned, but this can raise questions, and even make you suspicious if you trust these apps. And we understand people who can be lost when faced with the discourse of brands on the one hand, and apps on the other.

So why are some ingredients used in organic cosmetic products rated badly? This is not supposed to happen given the promises made by organic cosmetic brands. So why do they get bad ratings?

Simply because the rating applications do not take into account the globality of an ingredient. For example, they classify odorous molecules (naturally present in essential oils) as allergens.

Indeed, essential oils can be allergenic for people sensitive to their molecules, as they could have an allergy to nuts … Which is not the case for most people.

Moreover, the Cosmebio organization summarizes it very well here:

Perfume allergens are to cosmetics what nuts are to food products. They are mentioned on the packaging to reassure people who can’t stand them, but they are not dangerous for non-allergic people. In food, the presence of these allergens does not affect the overall rating of the product. So why do it in cosmetics?


Products with essential oils, badly rated… wrongly

This is why the possible allergens “linalool, geraniol, eugenol, benzyl benzoate, citronellol, farnesol, benzyl salicylate, citral, limonene and benzyl alcohol” lower the (good) scores of organic cosmetics. These are molecules that may be naturally present in essential oils or synthetically created.

And this is where the problem lies: when these molecules are in their natural terrain (in the essential oil), the allergenic risk is lower. While in a synthetic molecule, separated from all other components that make up an ingredient, the risk of intolerance is higher.

Excluded from their context, chemically recreated molecules (even if they have the same name as their natural model) present a lesser efficacy and are, in general, poorly tolerated, probably due to the presence of synthetic intermediates or the absence of temporizing principles.

Source : l’aromathérapie exactement – Franchomme, Dr Pénoël

So how do you tell the difference between natural molecules and chemical/synthetic molecules?

Simply by spotting the phrase “naturally contained in some essential oils”. This means that the molecules present in the INCI list come naturally from the essential oils that make up the final product.

Besides, it would be a shame to leave out essential oils in the composition of skin care products, as they contain many virtues!

Should we still trust the rating apps?

Far be it from us to discuss the interest of cosmetic rating applications. On the contrary, we think it’s a great step forward in the world of the cosmetics industry! It proves the interest and the attention you pay to the composition of your cosmetics. Just as you are interested in the origin of your vegetables, your clothes, etc…

A few years ago, few people would have asked themselves about the composition of their cosmetics. But cosmetic apps have made this part of the information accessible, and that’s a very good thing.

If allergens (no matter where they come from) are identified as bad in some apps, some components with a negative environmental impact are not. We are thinking in particular of petroleum derivatives (kerosene for example), harmless for the skin & health, but not really glamorous for the environment since they come from fossil & non-renewable energy.

And can we talk about products that are poor in active ingredients (a lot of water for example) but very well rated?

Generally speaking, we advise you to use an application on a daily basis, to facilitate the work of deciphering your cosmetic ingredients. But the ideal is to cross-check with the analysis, on your side, of the mentions on the packaging:

  • is the product certified organic*?
  • Does it mention the presence of essential oils that could justify the presence of “allergens”?

And if you want to trust certain books/apps with your eyes closed, here are the ones we recommend:

  • La vérité sur les cosmétiques (website and book)
  • Mireille app (app)
  • L’essentiel de Julien (book)

Trust organic & natural cosmetic brands?

*Certified organic products are subject to more or less strict charters. This is already a way to be reassured about the overall composition of the product you are buying.

The labels look at the composition of the product as a whole and block many controversial ingredients. But also ingredients from non-renewable sources (like kerosene, again!) or polluting for the environment.

By the way, if you want to know more about organic cosmetic labels, we invite you to read our article “What is organic cosmetics?

Difference between organic and natural cosmetics?

We must differentiate between organic & natural cosmetics. Natural cosmetics contain natural ingredients but may also contain synthetic ingredients. It may also contain ingredients not authorized by the organic cosmetic charters. Thus, a natural product may contain 95% of natural ingredients but 5% of controversial ingredients such as phenoxyethanol or parabens, silicones or PEGs.

An organic cosmetic is by definition a cosmetic made of natural ingredients to which a minimum percentage of ingredients grown according to the principles of organic agriculture is imposed. This percentage may change from one certification to another and the charters are more or less strict. An organic cosmetic is therefore a natural cosmetic, which goes even further in the search for naturalness with the integration of organic ingredients in its composition.

Apart from the composition, organic cosmetics favors as much as possible a manufacturing method that respects humans & the environment: dangerous and polluting ingredients are banned. In terms of ecology, organic cosmetics will not use non-renewable resources such as petroleum (and plastic derivatives) to create its products.

Organic cosmetics = more “real” for the consumer

The standards of the organic cosmetic charters being stricter than in natural cosmetics, and even more so than in conventional cosmetics, the manufacturers of organic cosmetics focus on useful ingredients. You will often find in organic cosmetic products vegetable oils, plant extracts, essential oils, or hydrosols.

When a conventional cosmetic uses water in its formulations, an organic cosmetic generally uses hydrosol. Also, when a conventional cosmetic uses petroleum derivatives to form a protective film on the skin (silicones, mineral oils such as kerosene), an organic cosmetic uses natural ingredients more useful for the skin: vegetable butters and oils, beeswax or vegetable wax, aloe vera gel. Thus, the ingredients used in organic cosmetics are more expensive but with more benefits for the skin.

In conventional cosmetics, emulsifiers (which bind the aqueous phase and the oily phase together) are generally PEG (extremely polluting plastic derivatives). On the other hand, in organic cosmetics, emulsifiers are of natural and vegetable origin (sugar esters for example).

Organic cosmetics without any labels?

With the advent of organic cosmetics in recent years, greenwashing is becoming more and more present. Many brands do not hesitate to play on words, even if it means confusing the consumers. To make your choice, we advise you to trust the many certifying labels that exist.

At Ayda, we have several certifications :

  • Cosmos Organic and Slow Cosmetics for all our products
  • Nature & Progrès for our soaps and solid shampoos

As a certified brand, we offer you the best possible products, associated with the know-how of French cosmetics. We guarantee this thanks to the recurrent controls of our entire production chain carried out by independent and qualified auditors. Thus, the auditors control the packaging unit, the producers of the ingredients used, the packaging elements and also the labeling. In addition, we participate in the development of the organic farming sector.

List of organic labels to trust

Each certifier has its own charter and its own specifications. For example, there may be differences in the minimum percentage of natural and organic ingredients. Also, the manufacturing methods or the list of non-authorized ingredients are different between the charters.

The two most famous certifiers are Ecocert and Cosmecert. For example, most of our products (such as prickly pear oil) are certified by Ecocert.

In addition, to obtain the Cosmos organic label, the product must contain at least 95% natural ingredients or ingredients of natural origin (water and minerals are considered natural). Also, the cosmetic product must contain at least :

  • 95% of plant-based ingredients from Organic Agriculture
  • 20% of the total ingredients from Organic Agriculture (excluding water and minerals, which are not certifiable) and 10% for rinse-off products

For the rest, there are other French labels, with other requirements and specificities.

Other organic labels & mentions

The Slow Cosmetics label, for example, is based on 4 pillars, which go beyond the composition of the product. In its charter, it also has a list of prohibited ingredients. But it will also focus on the ethics of the brand and its marketing practices.

The Nature & Progrès label has the strictest specifications.

100% of the plant-based ingredients must be organic and the cosmetic must contain a minimum of 95% of ingredients of natural origin. The cosmetics must not contain ingredients of synthetic origin or synthetic colorants. Also, they must not contain ingredients from petrochemicals, palm oil and derivatives.

There are also other labels in Europe: BDIH (Germany), Natrue (Germany), Soil association (United Kingdom). But also in the United States : USDA organic.

Good to know : A certified organic cosmetic product may contain up to 5% of ingredients of synthetic origin, depending on the label. That is to say obtained by transformation. These ingredients are not harmful. They must be part of the ingredients authorized in the specifications of the certifying bodies.