NCS – product certification for natural cosmetics

NCS – natural cosmetics for humans, animals and the environment

Make customers aware of natural cosmetics is about the most important issue of a marketing strategy. To be accepted as serious and professional products and flourish in the market they have to be certified. It is the entry to the category. As a concentrated form of marketing it makes a lot of communication on your ingredients superfluous.

An NCS product certification is also the first choice when you want to communicate your quality claim without appartenance to a professional association

The NCS product standard (Natural Cosmetics Standard) labels natural cosmetics for man and animal. It identifies natural cosmetics such as shampoo, lip balms or bath oils.

NCS Products bearing the NCS label undergo in-depth tests and fulfil the highest quality
requirements. Products which bear the NCS label consist of natural original materials, preferably in an organic quality

The emphasis on ORGANIC QUALITY or VEGAN is possible. To meet highest expectation producers can choose a combination of both claims.

HERE the standard and the accompanying positive list can be downloaded. (Please note that the positive list only lists the INCIs rated as compliant. A compliant INCI alone is no guarantee that the raw material is compliant! The criteria in the standard are relevant. See also "Details - Costs and certification procedure" on this page.)




NCS Natural Cosmetics Standard Options

Advantages of an NCS certification in a nutshell

Lower certification costs as there is no membership fee to pay.


The emphasis on organic quality is possible.


Recognised by the Bund Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN), the association of producers and resellers of natural products in Germany.


Claim as “NCS Vegan” is possible.


Quick evaluation of new ingredients.


The choice for a natural cosmetic standard which is axed on sustainability.

Details about the NCS-Certification

Your formulation and our understanding of “naturalness”.


The term “natural cosmetic ” implies the naturalness of the cosmetic products.

“Natural” implies in this context the use of ingredients which are “sourced from agricultural produce or soil”. This is quite an easy criterion for untreated foodstuff. For further natural products it is much more complex: there are some other criteria to fulfil. A cosmetic product is being used for its caring, cleaning or embellishing properties. When opened, it has to preserve its properties and effects during a certain period of time, without the necessity to be kept in the fridge or freezer compartment.

Because of these higher conservation requirements it is, in the view of GfaW, quite difficult to transfer the term naturalness in a straight line from foodstuff to cosmetics. We see it as logical to only regulate the characteristics of the ingredients and to have no requirements for the composition of the formulations. In this way producers can still introduce innovative cosmetic products in the market. The production technologies and ingredients have to respond to our criteria, which are on file in our standard. We survey in a sustainability perspective and in a comprehensive way what is to be understood under the concept “natural cosmetics”. Interested companies and other players can take part in the transparent process by adhering to the work group “Ecological Raw Materials”.

The scope of regulation of the NCS standard: raw materials and their production processes

With NCS the qualities of natural cosmetic ingredients are regulated. There is no specification needed as to the percentage composition of a product. When a product is declared as an organic cosmetic (i.e. “organic quality”), at least 95% of the global ingredients have to be forthcoming from certified organic agriculture.

For further details please check the NCS-Standard here.

Costs and procedure of an NCS certification

The price of a certification is divided in two. Costs are incurred by the standard owner and the certification body.

Standard owner: The reference to the NCS with the possibility to use the mark requires 98 EUR per product, brand and year.

For raw material manufacturers, the fee is 50 euros per raw material, brand and year.

Certification Body EcoControl GmbH: Certification is billed according to time. Depending on the type of product, an inspection takes different lengths of time. Please ask EcoControl for a cost estimate.

After establishing contact and concluding contracts with EcoControl and GfaW, please register your products with EcoControl. You will then receive the necessary documents. When your company registers a product for the first time, you must provide all data relevant for certification. Prerequisite for the evaluation of the products is all information about the raw materials described in the criteria.

Please note: The positive list shows INCIs that have been evaluated as compliant by EcoControl. It is not guaranteed that your raw materials meet the standard just because they contain the INCIs listed on the positive list!

Please read through the standard and make sure that each raw material meets the requirements specified in the criteria. The positive list is for orientation only.

The documents must contain the following information:

  1. Starting material of the raw material
  2. Processes, chemical or physical, used to produce the raw material
  3. Auxiliary materials for the production of the raw material
  4. Declaration of freedom from GMOs, if necessary also for auxiliary materials such as fermentation organisms
  5. If necessary vegan explanation - if vegan advertising is desired.

If all information is complete and the raw materials meet the criteria based on this information, the products will receive a certificate entitling them to use the NCS label.

In annual on-site audits, the certification body verifies compliance with the criteria for the registered products and prepares an assessment report which forms the basis for maintaining the certificate. In the event of deviations, a deadline is granted to remedy them, depending on their severity. This period may range from 4 to 12 months. If the deviations are not remedied after the deadline, there is no more conformity with the NCS and the products may no longer be awarded the seal.

The certification bodies approved by the NCS work in accordance with ISO 17065 and have longstanding experience in certifying ethical standards in the industry.

Background for the certification of natural cosmetics

Foodstuff and unprocessed agricultural produce can be featured as “organic” products according to the EU Organic Regulation. For natural products such as cosmetics several standards have been created. Through them, associations of most different sizes and hierarchies came to life. They define the concept “natural cosmetic” in quite a similar way. Our product certification for natural cosmetics gears itself closely on the general criteria of the most known associations.

Pursuant to the understanding and expectations of the consumers, natural products should as far as possible been generated in natural processes. Nevertheless, newer production methods should also be evaluated on their sustainability characteristics. A working group “ecological raw materials” has been set up which takes care of this aspect. The expert circele, at the moment manned by GfaW, EcoControl and INCI-experts, develops in mutual exchange of knowledge and transfer of ideas of sustainable and ecological requirements for natural and organic products.
A first important focus is the substitution of petrochemical sources by plant-based ones, often also by animal or microbial ones. Especially  for natural cosmetics, ecological washing and cleaning products and household items a lot of pioneer work is carried out to preserve the functionality of the products.

 Would you be interested to take part in the working group “ecological raw materials”, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

A selection of NCS-certified products

NCS – natural cosmetics — Flyer download