Press release

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10th April 2019

Open Natural Labelling Association (ONLA)
United Kingdom
April 2019

New standards body to rid cosmetics industry of misleading claims

Launch of world’s first ever standards body for honest labelling of natural products.

Consumers have been exposing themselves daily to harsh synthetic chemicals, even in so-called ‘natural’ products, according to the newly-formed independent body, the Open Natural Labelling Association (ONLA).

The skin allergy epidemic in the developed world was supposed to have been partly alleviated by the use of so-called ‘natural’ products. However, recent research has shown that virtually all ‘natural’ skin care products contain harsh and often dangerous synthetic chemical ingredients, which are suggested to be a major contributor of the skin allergy epidemic. It has been allowed to happen because, in stark contrast to the Food industry, there is no current definition of the words ‘Natural’ or ‘Pure’ in the Cosmetics industry.

Kit Wallen Russell, co-founder of the ONLA, explains:

“There is a skin allergy epidemic raging across the western world, with a 500% increase in skin health problems since the cosmetics industry began. Just like in the food industry, when consumers found out the links between ill-health and synthetic additives, they demanded all natural products.”

“The cosmetics industry responded by adding one or two natural ingredients in the same largely synthetic formulations and labeling them as natural. This is likely to have contributed to the rate of skin ailments accelerating in the last 5-10 years.”

“We are here to put a stop to the deceit. Our first level of certification only allows products which are 100% truly natural to call themselves natural. This means that all ingredients are taken directly from nature, with no chemical or physical changes occurring. Common terms used to trick consumers include ‘Naturally Derived, Nature Identical, 97% Natural, Plant Based and Organic’.”

The newly-formed organisation uses the same definition of ‘natural’ which the food industry uses and is campaigning to introduce cosmetics safety legislation into EU and US law that mirrors the groundbreaking Food Safety Act 1990. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Trading Standards will then have industry guidelines and legislation to prevent the misuse of terms ‘natural’ and ‘pure’.

Currently other natural standards organisations exist, but the main european ones, COSMOS and Natrue, are described as ‘maintaining the deceit’ by the ONLA, as they were ‘created by and accountable to their membership’. They claim they were set up by companies who weren’t able to produce their own truly natural products. They currently allow many non-natural ingredients to be included in products certified by them.

The ONLA, launched in March 2019, has a second level of certification which will assess whether a product is skin microbiome friendly. They use Kit’s 2017 discovery of the ‘only reliable skin health measuring mechanism’ using microbial biodiversity. The skin allergy epidemic in the western world has seen a catastrophic ecosystem collapse of the skin microbiome. Some have said a contributing factor is the use of synthetic chemicals in every-day cosmetics.

Using Kit’s 2017 discovery, world-first scientific studies in partnership with The Medical University of Graz have shown the beginnings of a link between synthetic products and an inhibiting effect on the skin microbiome. This is crucial evidence that products must enhance the skin’s natural environment, through the use of natural ingredients.

Kit concludes:

“Our aim is to protect consumers from claims and products which could be damaging their skin, and lead the fight against the skin allergy epidemic.” 

“We are campaigning to radically transform the cosmetics industry from one which is mis-leading for consumers, and begin a new era of honestly-labelled, health-giving and science & research based cosmetics.”

– ENDS –


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Notes to Editors


Motivated by the scandal of the developed world’s skin disease epidemic with a 500% increase in childhood skin problems (eczema, allergies, acne, etc), The ONLA was set up to herald a new era of honesty and health in the cosmetics industry. 

It is the only certification body which offers products genuine natural and ‘skin microbiome friendly’ certification. It uses the same definition of ‘natural’ as used in the food industry, where ‘all ingredients are taken directly from nature, with no chemical or physical changes occurring’.  The ONLA uses the recent discovery of the ‘only reliable mechanism for measuring the health of skin using skin microbiome biodiversity’ to assess whether products are ‘skin microbiome friendly’.

The ONLA aims to transform the industry into one that is honestly-labelled, health-giving and research based. It will lead the way for third-wave 100% truly natural and skin microbiome friendly products. These will repair the damage caused by harmful chemical ingredients, and focus on empowering, not changing, the skin’s natural environment, protecting it against the destructive work of harmful synthetic chemicals and opportunistic pathogenic microbes.