How often do you see a symbol on the back of a cosmetic product and think, what the heck does this mean?! It is awesome that so many brands are seeking third party verification for safety or at least confirming their claims. The downside is each organization has their own verification symbol and companies often do not say what these symbols mean. Let us breakdown nine of the most commonly seen symbols on cosmetics.
1. B Corporation
A “B Corp” is certified by the nonprofit B Lab. When you see the Certified B Corporation symbol as shown above, you know the company behind the product meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Certified B CorporationsTM redefine success in business, centered around positively impacting their employees, communities and the environment. B Lab believes “Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reducing inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose.”
They have a categorized scoring system which companies must score over an 80% on to be certified. Interestingly, companies that package their products solely in plastic can be Certified B Corps. Collectively, B Corps lead a growing “global movement of people using business as a force for good.” By annually rating companies they create sustainable competition for companies to strive for Best and make improvements each year to improve their chances.
Brands that I love that are B Corps are – Ursa Major, based out of Vermont that is a unisex brand. Their slogan: Clean skincare essentials powered by nature with a spirit of adventure! I adore their Golden Hour Recovery Cream for fall and winter!
Babo Botanicals who started as a baby safe cosmetic brand which has grown to create products for adults, too! Fabulous for sensitive skin and they have FIVE very impressive certifications to back up just how awesome their products are for our bodies. Their Babo Botanicals Tinted SPF 30 is my favorite of their line. I also love their spray sunscreen, though it’s packaged in an aerosol can so it is only recyclable via my municipality’s hazardous waste days, sadly TerraCycle does not accept any aerosol cans.
Plaine Products is a circular cosmetic brand that makes great body producst, I’ve tried their shampoo and body soap. They are a B Corp, 1% for the Planet, a 0 on Think Dirty, PETA Caring Consumer and Leaping Bunny certified. Which leads to my next label, what’s Leaping Bunny?
2. Leaping Bunny
Leaping Bunny was created by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) after many brands were claiming their products were ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘animal friendly’ without any third party verification in the 1990s. CCIC was formed from eight national protection groups’ creation of a single comprehensive standard. The Leaping Bunny logo is internationally recognized, even more than PETA’s logo.
Brands I love that are Leaping Bunny certified. Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser that I have a full review on here. Ursa Major, Plaine Products. Meliora and Kosmatology Bug Repellent Skin Balm which is a balm versus a spray due to their believe that no one should inhale these ingredients in a compostable push pop tube that is also MADE SAFE certified.
3. MADE SAFE
MADE SAFE examines products for their ingredient safety for humans and the environment. They determine which products can be trusted because they are made without toxic chemicals that impact our health. MADE SAFE goes above and beyond other safety labels. “Ingredients are examined and tested by a chemist for bioaccumulation (builds up in our bodies), persistence (builds up in the environment), and general and aquatic toxicity, making it the leading standard in the country.” I love seeing more and more brands seeking the MADE SAFE certification symbol, it is the most important in my eyes.
Brands I love that are MADE SAFE certified True Botanicals Shampoo comes packaged in an aluminum bottle and gives my hair great texture. Babo, Kosmatology and Meliora, a plastic-free, non-toxic soap company that was founded by Environmental Engineers. The founder Kate struggled to find clean laundry detergent due to confusing and misleading labels, so she created her own soap and now has a very successful company based in Chicago all made at their head quarters and sourced in the USA! I have been using their laundry powder for close to two years now and cannot travel without their stain removing stick! Grease and oil are no match, it’s truly incredible and not toxic like bleach! Additionally, Meliora is Leaping Bunny certified, a B Corp, 1% for the Planet, woman-owned, Women’s Voices for the Earth, and donates 2% of their annual revenue to environmental and charitable nonprofits. Run, don’t walk.
Ecocert is the longest running sustainable and organic verifier, over 30-years. It is a very difficult certification to earn a symbol on your product. A minimum of 95% of the plants a product contains must be organic. At least 20% of organic ingredients are present in the total formula (10% for rinse-off products like a cleanser). This organization was founded to ensure “Customers are thus given transparent information on the content in natural and organic ingredients displayed on the products.” Other standards are: the products must be recycable packaging, absent of Genetically modified organisms (GMO) or petrochemicals, respect biodiversity, responsible use of natural resources, production and processing deemed ‘friendly’ with respects to human and environmental health and development of the concept of green chemicals.
Brands I love that are Ecocert certified, One Love Organics Vitamin A Cleanser. The majority of this Georgia based brand is verified by Ecocert. If you love a gel cleanser that smells like grapefruit and amber glass bottles this is for you! I also absolutely love their Vitamin B Oil Cleanser, though it’s not made with a high enough percentage organic to be certified. It naturally smells like a pina colada and is the perfect first cleanser if you like to double cleanser at night like me!
5. Cruelty-Free and Vegan
The label with the cute little bunny ears is actually the PETA Cruelty-free and or Vegan label! It has recently changed so I included the old and new symbols. They are part of PETA’s ‘Global Beauty without Bunnies” Program. PETA’s goal is to help ban testing on animals.
Brands I love that have these symbols – Plaine Products, Kosmatology and Osmia Organics based out of Colorado who focuses on soap and makes one of my favorite serums, Balance Serum are all certified Cruelty-free and Vegan. The Balance Serum is fabulous for combination or oil prone skin, it really helped balance my sebum (oil) production levels. The strong essential oil scent is also a dream and helps me relax before bed. Babo Botanicals and One Love Organics is PETA Certified for cruelty-free though not vegan. It is easy to differenciate the two labels as vegan
The letter V with the leaf indicates a product is certified vegetarian and or vegan. Officially called the V-Label, created by European Vegetarian Union to promote transparency. The label was created over 20 years ago, standardizing their licensing process. The definitions for “vegetarian” and “vegan” align with the 12th Minister for Consumer Protection Conference’s recommendations:
Food and other products that do not contain animals or parts of animals are considered vegetarian. This takes into account all production and processing steps. Food and other products created with the help of living animals and animal-derived products are considered vegetarian.
Food and other products that do not contain animals or parts of animals are considered vegan. To be vegan, food and other products must not be created with the help of living animals or animal-derived products. This takes into account all production and processing steps.”
V-Label does not determine if the company’s packaging is vegetarian or vegan, though they encourage all companies to voluntarily avoid using animal-derived product packaging.
7. Period After Opening
This adorable opened jar symbolizes PAO (Period After Opening). This is always measured in months within this symbol: 6m, 9m or 12m is what I have seen. Because natural, clean, non-toxic or clean beauty whatever you call it uses natural products without preservatives they have shorter shelf life.
Brands I love that use this symbol: Almost all natural products have this symbol: Josh Rosebrook, Osmia, May Lindstrom and Indie Lee all use these symbols on their packaging. This is different then a Use By date because it’s tied to when the product was opened. To know when the product was bottled check the bottom of your product as the birthdate is usually shown there. Some brands like Tata Harper have serial numbers that you can look up and they tell you the exact birth date of that product.
8. Green Dot
The Green Dot originated in Europe where it is more widely used than in the USA. Contrary to some beliefs, this symbol is not a recycling symbol. This symbol actually indicates the manufacturer made a financial contribution to a national packaging recovery company established in accordance with the European Packaging Directive for packaging waste and national law. Note, it is not a compliance mark. This symbol is very cool in my eyes are it means the company is taking ownership of the waste they produce to bottle their good. This is not just acting like a tax on plastic, brands that package in glass and other materials also can have the Green Dot symbol.
Brands that use the Green Dot – All of Follain’s brand’s plastic packaging has this logo. They chose to package their latest line in plastic to keep pricing down to increase accessibility within the green beauty industry. Also, all of Indie Lee’s packaging has the Green Dot symbol which is awesome because most of their products are packaged in glass and some are in plastic.
9. Mobius Loop
You have seen this symbol countless times, though did you know the official name was The Mobius Loop? TBH, neither did I till researching for this blog post. It means a product is capable of being recycled, though your municipality may not accept it. I prefer when the #1-7 symbols are used inside of the Mobius Loop symbol because it’s more universally used and easier to decipher if something will be accepted locally.
Nerd fact: After #1-2 plastic loses its value. Some municipalities accept #5, though most do not. Some grocery stores accept #4 plastic though not all. This is why regardless of the material I always Terracycle my beauty products to ensure they do not end up in landfill. Since China no longer accepts most of the world’s recycling, which incentivized towns and cities to want to recycle, I do not believe in the USA recycling system any longer.