Demystifying Personal Care Certifications and Claims


All you need to know about the following certifications



Certified Vegan

What is 'vegan'?

Vegan products are free from animal or animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan personal care products do not contain beeswax, honey, collagen, keratin or lanolin – which are all derived from animals. 

Common misconcetion

'Vegan' is often confused with 'vegetarian'. The word 'vegetarian' is derived from 'vegetables' and means foods that do not have animal protein.

A vegan product on the other hand, will not have animal protein as well as other ingredients derived from animals. 

Vegan certification

The vegan certificate is a trademark for products that are free of animal products and by-products and have not been tested on animals. Vegan certification is awarded through organizations such as BeVeg, CDG and other independent bodies. The interested company must apply and follow through with the mandatory procedures to be awarded the certificate.

How do you ensure its 'vegan?’

Look for a label that says 'Suitable For Vegans' or a 'Certified Vegan' logo on the pack and product container. You may visit the certification body's website to ensure the procedures followed are authentic.

Certified Cruelty-Free

What is 'cruelty-free'?

Cruelty-free products are not tested on animals and do not cause them any harm.

This includes not indulging in cruel practices such as testing new formulations or products on animals, and instead, using animal-free methods for experimentation.

Common Misconception

Some people use ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ interchangeably. Vegan products are free from animal ingredients and by-products. Cruelty-free ensures that the product isn't tested on animals. However, they both protect animal rights. 

Cruelty-free certification

With growing awareness, this has become a mandatory certification for forward-looking companies. India was the first Asian country to ban the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals.

Companies seeking accreditation must prove that no products are tested on animals and sign assurance statements by organisations such as  PETA, Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF), Leaping Bunny and or other independent bodies.

How do you ensure that the product is 'cruelty-free'?

Look for the bunny logo or the ‘cruelty-free’ label on the product's packaging. This internationally used symbol guarantees consumers that none of the formulations or ingredients were tested on animals. 

FDA Approved

What is 'FDA Approved'?

Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved means that the company adheres to US federal quality standards set by the India office in manufacturing products that are safe for human use, and effective for the purposes declared. Another stipulation is that products must not be misbranded. They must be properly labelled and safe for use.

Common Misconceptions

Most people believe that only food products are FDA-approved. Although globally, the law does not require cosmetic ingredients to be FDA approved (except for products with artificial colour), the ingredients used must be unadulterated.

FDA Certification

Manufacturers of the product must conduct lab and clinical testing and submit the data to the FDA. The FDA reviews the findings of the tests and approves the products if they're deemed safe, and if the benefits outweigh the risks for the intended use.

How do you ensure FDA Approval?

Look for the 'FDA Approved' logo on the product's label or log onto the FDA Verification Portal and type the product's name to get information on the same.

Allergy Certified

What is 'Allergy Certified'?

'Allergy Certified' means the product is clinically tested and is free from potential allergens in its formulation.  

The product pack must also provide full ingredient transparency and safety advice concerning allergens.

Common Misconception

Many people believe that products containing natural ingredients do not cause allergies. Nature-derived products may be free of harmful toxins but aren't free of the proteins that cause allergic reactions. Therefore, doing a patch test before using any new product is crucial to avoid potential adverse skin reactions. 

Allergy Certification

Brands must submit their product formulations to third party consultation & certification services for review.  If products are free from allergens, suitable for the skin, and in compliance with the Allergy Certified Criteria they are eligible for the Allergy Certified logo from various organisations such as SCA and AllergyCertified.  

How to ensure that the product is allergy certified?

Look out for the Allergy Certification logo or ‘Free from allergens’ label on the pack. Almost every product that is allergy-certified will exclusively display allergen details as well. 

Australian Certified Toxic Free

What is 'Australian Certified Toxic Free'?

'Australian Certified Toxic Free' is a certification provided by an independent body, Safe Cosmetics Australia. It deems a product safe for use and ensures that it is free from potentially harmful ingredients, most likely to be endocrine disruptors.

Common Misconception

The term 'toxic-free' does not mean that the product or formulation is free from chemicals. It simply means that these ingredients are not toxic, carcinogenic, or poisonous and do not interfere with the body’s hormones. 

Toxic-Free Certification

SCA reviews all the ingredients (sourced locally and abroad) individually using scientific methods and extensive research. Formulators and product chemists from the organisation will then carry out tests to make sure the product is 100% free from endocrine disruptors and compliant with the toxic-free hotlist on their official website.  

How to ensure 'Toxic-Free' certification?

Companies that meet 'toxic free' criteria usually display it on the label of their products. Look for a toxic-free certification from organizations such as SCA, GreenScreen and Environmental Working Group (EWG) and or other independent bodies.

Made Safe

What is 'Made Safe'?

Much like the 'toxic-free' certification, 'made safe' also restricts the use of toxic chemicals in products to prevent harm to human health. It ensures that all products are screened for thousands of ingredients that make up the 'red list' of harmful substances.

Common Misconception

Most ingredient lists contain scientific terms, which may look like harmful chemical ingredients to the consumer, but may not be so. With the 'made safe' certification you may rest your concerns. 

Made Safe Certification

Companies seeking this certification must provide transparency of ingredients so they can be screened across all databases. A rigorous evaluation process is carried out, after which the product is deemed safe. Some of the organisations that provide this certification are SCA and MadeSafe.

How to ensure that the product is 'Made Safe'?

Read ingredients label to check for the 'Made Safe' logo or trademark or Log onto the official website of the brand for more details.


What is 'gluten-free'?

Gluten-free products are free from gluten or gluten by-products.Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. Products that do not contain these ingredients are termed gluten-free.

Common Misconception

Although rice is a grain, it is naturally gluten-free - whether brown, black, white, or wild rice. Therefore, ingredients derived from rice - rice water and rice protein, are also gluten-free. 

Gluten-free certification

The gluten-free certification is awarded to products that do not contain gluten or gluten by-products. Interested companies may get their products reviewed by independent organisations such as Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). If the products meet local authority regulations and the organisation's standards, the gluten-free label is obtained. 

Companies can also make this claim voluntarily without certification if they are confident that the validity of their claim cannot be legally challenged.

How to ensure that the product is 'gluten-free'?

Check labels for allergen listing and ingredients highlighted in bold or a “Gluten-Free” logo on the pack.

IFRA Certified  

What is IFRA?

The International Fragrance Association (IFRA), advocate for the safe use of fragrance ingredients. They can ban, limit or set the rules for fragrances in products. Both natural and synthetic ingredients are monitored and tested under IFRA standards.

Common Misconception

Fragrances are found in almost all cosmetic products unless there is an explicit indication of 'no fragrances'. However, not all synthetic fragrances are toxic, and may be used in minimal amounts as long as they adhere to IFRA Standards. 

IFRA Certification

IFRA does not create official certificates, and there is no certifying company providing certificates on behalf of IFRA. However, there are IFRA Standards and interested companies can obtain a Certificate of Conformity to the IFRA Standards as part of the consultation process with third-party organizations listed on the IFRA website

It is also worth noting that companies can make this claim if their suppliers adhere to IFRA Standards and have obtained the Certificate of Conformity. 

How to ensure that the product is IFRA Certified?

Since there is no official certification by IFRA, it is best to look up the ingredients on the IFRA Standards Library or check the product label and website for more information on the same. 

pH Balanced

What is 'pH Balanced?

pH balance is your body's acid-base balance. Your skin’s natural pH balance is mildly acidic and is usually in the range of 4.7 to 5.5 on the pH level scale - anything below is acidic, and above is alkaline. 

pH balanced means the manufacturer usually formulates the product to the optimum levels.

Common Misconception

Rather than a misconception, most consumers have little to no knowledge about pH levels and why they’re important while choosing cosmetic products. 

pH Balanced Claim

Product formulations are assessed for pH levels during the clinical testing phase of the manufacturing process. If a company wants to adhere to the normal pH level, they must provide samples of their products to third party laboratories for lab testing and also test for any potential side effects on the control group.

All manufacturers are legally required to ensure that the product is safe for use according to its claims. If the product does not meet this legal requirement, the FDA has the authority to act against the company. 

How to ensure that the product is pH balanced?

Look for the 'pH Balanced' label on the pack.

Clinically Tested

What is 'clinically tested'?

Products are tested on humans in a clinical setting to evaluate their safety, performance and efficacy. It is done under the supervision of scientifically qualified professionals.

If the product is cruelty-free, the product is not tested on any animals.

Common Misconception

'Clinically tested' is often confused with 'clinically proven'. Clinically tested claims can be made after a single trial, but clinically proven claims involve more than one trial while considering all evidence of that particular product formulation and its effects on the control group.

Clinically tested claim

All manufacturers are legally required to ensure that the product is safe for use according to its claims. If the product does not meet this legal requirement, the FDA has the authority to act against the company. 

How to ensure that the product is clinically tested?

A quick glance at the label will prove this claim.

Dermatologically Safe

What is ‘dermatologically tested / safe’?

‘Dermatologically tested’ means the product has been reviewed by dermatologists and is deemed safe for use, based on its intended purpose. 

Common Misconception

Many people often assume that ‘dermatologically safe’ means that the product is good for the skin and doesn’t cause any allergies. 

Dermatologically Safe Claim

The most common test used by dermatologists to deem a product safe is the Human Repeat Insult Patch Testing (HRIPT) where the product is repeatedly applied on the skin in a clinical setting, after which a thorough evaluation follows. 

All manufacturers are legally required to ensure that the product is safe for use according to its claims. If the product does not meet this legal requirement, the FDA has the authority to act against the company. 

How to ensure that the product is dermatologically safe?

The best way to ensure that the product is dermatologically safe is to check for the claim on the packaging of the product or the official website. 


What is ‘non-GMO’?

GMO ingredients are ingredients/microorganisms whose genetic material is artificially manipulated in the laboratory through transgenic technology to provide results that wouldn’t occur in a natural setting. For instance, canola oil is genetically altered to produce higher levels of lauric acid, which is a key ingredient in some soaps. 

Non-GMO means the product is produced without any genetic modification and that its ingredients are not derived from any genetic alterations. 

Common Misconception

Non-GMO does not automatically mean 100% organic. Non-GMO products simply mean that no genetic modifications have been made to the ingredients of the product. It is possible for a product to be both non-GMO and contain certain ingredients like synthetic fragrances, while still being safe for use. 

Non-GMO Certification

To obtain the Non-GMO certification, a product must contain less than 1% genetic modification.  Third party organizations such as Non-GMO Project and other independent bodies test raw materials during the entire manufacturing process to ensure that there is no GMO contamination. 

How to ensure that the product is non-GMO?

Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on the pack or the website of the product. 

Sustainability Focused

What is ‘sustainability focused’?

The green term ‘sustainable’ in the cosmetic industry, implies the use of renewable raw materials in a manner that doesn’t deplete resources for future generations. Sustainability focused products use ingredients that are sourced and packaged using sustainable practices.

These products have recyclable packaging with minimum use of plastic and their ingredients do not generate toxic waste into the environment. 

Common Misconception

Plastics are still used in sustainable or sustainability focused products. However, when the company is sustainability focused, it makes conscious efforts to reduce the use of plastic.

Sustainability focused claim

Sustainability standards and certifications are voluntary guidelines followed by manufacturers of a product. However, non-governmental organizations such as ECOCERT, FSC and B Corporation and other independent bodies have developed their own standards and practices for sustainability which can verify the claim. 

How to ensure that the product is ‘sustainability focused’?

Check the pack for green labels or logos such as the 100% recyclable label, or look up the product’s official website.


What is organic?

Products are referred to as ‘organic’ when the ingredients used are farmed without any pesticides, chemicals or GMO.

Common Misconception

Organic and Natural can be misunderstood to be the same. The truth is, natural means the product does not contain synthetic ingredients and organic means the ingredients are grown biologically without the use of artificial additives. 

Organic Certification

USDA Organic, ECOCERT, NSF and other independent bodies have developed their own standards and systems to verify this claim. A company must adhere to the standards and pass the stringent tests and procedures to obtain this certification.

How to ensure that the product is organic?

Check for the ‘organic’ logo or label on the pack, or look up the official product website to ensure that it stands true to its claim. 

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