CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate – Creating a new era of cosmetics

Abstract: CosmEthically ACTIVE is the first certificate that pursues an integral approach to the evaluation of natural cosmetics. It is based on the scientific assessment of a cosmetic product and reviews the product’s composition by environmental aspects, level of dermal compatibility, concentration of cosmetically active ingredients, and principles of rational formulating. Cosmetically ACTIVE strives for a fair, evidence-based communication of activity claims, and high ecological and dermal acceptability of natural cosmetics.

Article citation: Kocevar Glavac N. CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate: Creating a new era of cosmetics. Cos ACTIVE J. 2021;1:3–11

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Cosmetic products are an indispensable part of our lives, driving the cosmetics industry to be one of the most innovative and lucrative economic sectors. New cosmetics are launched continuously with the aim of meeting consumers’ demands for active, skinfriendly and natural products, as well as manufacturers’ desires for innovation and continuous progress.

Following the needs of today’s consumers and emerging environmental issues have contributed to the natural cosmetics sector becoming mainstream. However, a wave of different views on naturalness has washed over us in recent years. With no clear regulatory stand point, we’re getting lost in an avalanche of opinions and labels, some that truly fight for the benefit of natural cosmetics and others that mislead us through greenwashing.

That’s where the CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate plays an important role (1).


CosmEthically ACTIVE  is the first certificate that pursues an integral approach to the evaluation of cosmetics:

  • CosmEthically ACTIVE reviews a cosmetic product not only by the naturalness of the ingredients from both the dermal and environmental aspects, but also by the concentration of the cosmetically active ingredients and the science-based evidence behind them.
  • CosmEthically ACTIVE establishes cosmetics that are based on the skin’s physiological needs and formulated rationally following the “less-is-more” principle.

A huge added value and uniqueness of the CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate comes from the evidence-based approach of a product’s integral evaluation, which is represented by a scientific assessment of a cosmetic product during the certification process, made by independent scientists professionally active in the area of cosmetology. Scientific evaluation based on the principles of skin physiology and modern cosmetology is a guarantee that CosmEthically ACTIVE certified products are of the highest quality and truly natural, active, skin, animal and environmentally friendly.

CosmEthically ACTIVE allows you to immediately recognise products that are rationally formulated with ingredients of the best skin and environmental acceptability, and whose cosmetic activity is supported by the highest level of science-based knowledge.


In technological terms, a cosmetic product consists of cosmetically active ingredients, the ingredients of a vehicle and various other ingredients, e.g. preservatives and perfuming ingredients (2). Cosmetically active ingredients are mainly responsible for the desired, specific skin care effects such as antioxidative effects. Marketing claims are therefore primarily based on the presence of cosmetically active ingredients and their cosmetic effects. Without a suitable, i.e. sufficient concentration, however, no significant activity can be expected.

Unfortunately, cosmetic regulations are poorly defined in this respect. There is currently no strict requirement that would back the consumer, and offer or evaluate information regarding the content of cosmetically active ingredients, or at least ensure that a cosmetic product is truly of acceptable quality in this respect. This generally allows cosmetic manufacturers to hide behind their claims and include only the minimum, and not necessarily the effective, quantities of cosmetically active ingredients.

The CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate provides you the certainty of an evidence-based cosmetic product, formulated using nature-friendly ingredients at cosmetically active concentrations.


Natural and organic cosmetics have evolved in an extremely positive way in the past decade. We welcome and deeply respect the hard work of those who came before us. The time has come, however, to take an important step further.

The following objectives reveal our mission, vision and values:

  • With the CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate, we are establishing a concept of active cosmetics that contain the right ingredients in suitable concentrations to deliver the desired skin effects. Our mission is our promise to counter empty claims and misleading advertising.
  • During the certification process, a cosmetic product’s composition is scientifically evaluated based on the principles of skin physiology and modern cosmetology. Our basic criterion is to ensure high dermal compatibility.
  • Rational cosmetic products are demanded: individual ingredients must be selected on a case-by-case basis, based on their functions, the desired cosmetic activity and technological and sensory aspects, and their total number should be kept to a minimum.
  • CosmEthically ACTIVE follows strict criteria to achieve the highest possible level of environmental protection. Only ecologically acceptable cosmetic ingredients that are highly degradable are allowed.


The major difference between the CosmEthically ACTIVE and other certificates of natural cosmetics is that CosmEthically ACTIVE examines evidence of the cosmetic activity of a product by identifying the cosmetically active ingredients and, even more importantly, evaluating the concentrations of those ingredients in a cosmetic product. During the certification process, an independent scientific assessment of a cosmetic product’s composition is made by a scientist professionally active in the fields of cosmetology, pharmacognosy, pharmacy and chemistry, with competencies in the area of cosmetic formulation and in-depth knowledge about ingredients of natural origin (3).

The basis of the CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate lies in the standards of existing natural cosmetics certificates, but goes a step further toward the skin and environmental compatibility. It doesn’t look solely at the naturalness of an ingredient or formulation, but also at its ecological and dermal impacts. For example, a natural shampoo with pH 7 cannot be approved because that pH value is not physiologically compatible with the human scalp.

Another crucial yet difficult characteristic of CosmEthically ACTIVE is the list and content of approved cosmetic ingredients. In general, other certification institutions for natural and/or organic cosmetics define the minimum and/or maximum content of substances that are considered natural and substances that are considered processed or derivatised.

CosmEthically ACTIVE follows a completely different approach because a shift has been made from naturalness to activity and the evaluation of a product as a whole, but without making compromises with regard to environmental aspects. We strongly believe that such a concept is based on a rational understanding of modern cosmetology and principles of sustainability, and makes the CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate one of the strictest certification systems at the global level, strongly oriented towards the healthy and ethical future of our planet.

To explain in more detail, CosmEthically ACTIVE criteria are not based on percentages of substances. Ingredients are not explicitly categorised into natural and processed or derivatised ingredients, but into ingredients that are permitted and those that are not permitted. Consequently, the CosmEthically ACTIVE logo does not distinguish between different natural or organic categories. The focus is based on the intersection of cosmetic activity/performance, the naturalness and environmental impacts of ingredients, and dermal compatibility.

With regard to naturalness, we believe that we have made a highly beneficial compromise towards environmentally acceptable (semi)synthetic ingredients by permitting (3):

  1. Substances that are naturally present in the body, and substances that are naturally present in our environment, e.g. in the plant, fungi and animal worlds, and of mineral origin, except petrochemical-derived cosmetic ingredients (example: sorbic acid);
  2. Substances synthesised from the body’s or environment’s own building blocks into which they are subsequently broken down (example: glyceryl caprylate = an ester of caprylic (i.e. octanoic) acid and glycerol); and
  3. Substances that can be broken down into the skin’s, body’s or environment’s own building blocks, but those ingredients are only permitted when there is not a suitable replacement from natural sources (example: (semi)synthetic surfactants).

Click here to download a detailed presentation of the CosmEthically ACTIVE certificate.


Progress in modern cosmetics, including a wide palette of cosmetic ingredients, technological solutions, marketing strategies and cosmetic regulations, is going in the direction of implementing scientific approaches and scientific evidence. In an abundance of information, however, it has become difficult for us to recognise perspectives that truly follow values into which we believe.

This is what we strive to do with all our knowledge and hearts. Modern CosmEthics is an association of cosmetology professionals that creates the culture and awareness of natural, sustainable, ethical and cosmetically active products. With the professional and scientific background of our team, we strive for the establishment of natural cosmetics as a branch of high-quality cosmetics.

We believe deeply that this is the only possible long-term future for cosmetics, cosmetic manufacturers, the users of cosmetics and our planet. There is a long road ahead of us, but a brave combination of knowledge, experience, skills, stubbornness and love supports us on our journey.

Last but not least, we are also an advocate for change in consumer consumption habits, with an emphasis on reducing the overall consumption of cosmetic products. Use natural but use rational, and use less but use smart. What you apply is who you are.

Prof. Nina Kocevar Glavac, Ph.D., M. Pharm.
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Pharmacy, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Nina Kočevar Glavač

Please click on the references below for more information.
1. Modern CosmEthics. CosmEthically ACTIVE [Internet]. Velenje: Sirimo dobro besedo [cited 2021 April 9]. Available from:
2. Janeš D, Kočevar Glavač N. Modern Cosmetics, Ingredients of Natural Origin, A Scientific View, Volume 1. 1st ed. Velenje: Širimo dobro besedo; 2018.
3. Modern CosmEthics. CosmEthically ACTIVE Certificate, Technical Document, Version 1.0 [Internet]. Velenje: Sirimo dobro besedo [cited 2021 April 9]. Available from:

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