ISO 16128-1:2016—Cosmetic Ingredients And Products

Variety of cosmetics products in a makeup store adhering to ISO 16128-1:2016 specifications for organic ingredients.

Over the centuries, a pivotal and notable transformation in the beauty industry is that we have eliminated potentially deadly and dangerous chemicals (parabens, mercury, phthalates, etc.,) that were common in past cosmetic products. ISO 16128-1:2016—Guidelines On Technical Definitions And Criteria For Natural And Organic Cosmetic Ingredients And Products – Part 1: Definitions For Ingredients specifies guidelines for natural and organic cosmetics ingredients.

The First Cosmetics

The first cosmetics appeared 5,000 years ago in Egypt. As early as 10,000 BCE, both men and women used almond, moringa, and castor oils to clean and protect them from the sun. The Egyptians were also the first to use black antimony-based paint as eyeliner made from powdered black kohl (an ore of lead); pulverized minerals such as malachite, lapis lazuli, or turquoise to create eyeshadows; and crushed flowers to create a natural blush.

ISO 16128 Series for Organic Cosmetics

ISO 16128 provides guidelines on definitions and criteria for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products. These guidelines provide a framework for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients and products incorporating common approaches employed in existing references. The purpose of these guidelines is to encourage a wider choice of natural and organic ingredients in the formulation of a diverse variety of cosmetic products to encourage innovation.

ISO 16128 does not address product communication (e.g., claims and labelling), human safety, environmental safety and socio-economic considerations (e.g., fair trade), and the characteristics of packaging materials or regulatory requirements applicable for cosmetics.

Testing Cosmetic Products

According to the FDA, cosmetics are required to be safe when consumers use them according to directions in the labeling, or in the customary or expected way. The FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetic products and ingredients (other than color additives) before they go on the market. Product testing and/or following standards for cosmetics like those in ISO 16128 is one action a manufacturer can do to provide the safety, quality, and effectiveness of a cosmetic product. 

What Is ISO 16128-1?

ISO 16128-1:2016 provides guidelines on definitions for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients. These ingredients are obtained only from plants, animals, micro-organisms, orminerals, including those obtained from physical processes (e.g., grinding, drying, distillation), fermentation reactions occurring in nature, and other procedures of preparation (e.g., extraction using solvents). In addition to natural and organic ingredients, other ingredient categories which may be necessary for natural and organic product development are defined in ISO 16128-1:2016 with associated restrictions.

Surprising Ingredients Found in Cosmetics

Here is a list some unorthodox ingredients found in makeup products:

  1. Snail mucus: contains mucin, a group of proteins rich in amino acids with a strong capacity to hold water, for softer skin. It moisturizes the skin, promotes collagen production, and aids in skin healing and regeneration. The glycolic acid and elastin in a snail’s secretion protect its own skin from cuts, bacteria, and UV rays, making it a great source for proteins that eliminate dead cells and regenerate skin. Snail mucus is also helpful for removing scars, stretch marks, and curing acne.
  2. Wool grease, or lanolin: Just as human skin has sebum, sheep have lanolin (an ointment-like material), which has been shown to have wound healing properties and is a very good moisturizer for hair, skin, and nails (no animals are harmed during the extraction of lanolin).
  3. Bird excrement, or guano: contains urea (found in urine) and an amino acid called guanine (also used in paints for a shimmer effect) that together brighten and soften the skin.
  4. Fish scales: Guanine (fish scales) is a crystalline material that produces a shimmering or light-diffusing coloring ingredient in products like mascara, lipsticks, eyeshadows, and nail polish. It is commonly used in the formulation of bath products, cleansing products, fragrances, hair conditioners, lipsticks, nail products, shampoos, and skin care products.

ISO 16128-1:2016—Guidelines On Technical Definitions And Criteria For Natural And Organic Cosmetic Ingredients And Products – Part 1: Definitions For Ingredients is available on the ANSI Webstore and in this standards package: ISO 16128 – Natural And Organic Cosmetics Set.

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