FAQs about personal care

#Navigating differences for personal care standards

A personal care product is eligible to be reviewed under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standards in order to make certified organic claims such as “100 percent organic,” “organic” and “made with organic.” However, USDA NOP regulations cannot be applied to personal care products that contain unapproved non-food ingredients or use different, unapproved manufacturing processes than food products.

The NSF/ANSI 305 Personal Care standard is a private organic standard with a special focus on the ingredients and processes for personal care products. While certain non-organic ingredients that aren’t allowed under the USDA NOP are permitted under NSF/ANSI 305, you still must have a minimum of 70 percent organic content to be eligible for certification.

#NSF/ANSI 305 Personal Care standard

NSF/ANSI 305 Personal Care standard is a private, specific organic standard for personal care products. The standard was developed to encourage greater participation in the manufacturing of personal care products using organically grown ingredients. Additionally, the standard addresses issues around chemical processes, terminology, commercial availability of ingredients, product composition, ingredient calculations, and labeling.


A NSF/ANSI 305 certified product must contain at least 70 percent organic content (by weight) to qualify for certification.

The NSF/ANSI 305 standard is the only U.S. national standard for personal care products to make “contains organic ingredients” claims. To become certified to this standard, personal care product operators must undergo a thorough evaluation and review by an accredited third-party certifier like OTCO.

NSF/ANSI 305 follows the same guiding principles as the USDA NOP:

  • Protect the environment
  • Avoid the use of toxic ingredients in the manufacturing of organic products
  • Ensure traceability and organic integrity

NSF/ANSI 305 products make use of organic agricultural ingredients and non-GMO ingredients, provide assurances that manufacturing and storage is free from contamination or commingling, require quality recordkeeping to ensure traceability of ingredients, and only use environmentally benign processing methods for non-organic ingredients.

#Products designated as “personal care”

The scope of the NSF/ANSI 305 Personal Care standard includes, but is not limited to, products with over 70 percent organic content such as:

  • Rinse-off/leave-on personal care products
  • Cosmetic products
  • Oral care products
  • Personal hygiene products

#Personal care certification basics

Prior to applying for certification, first determine if your personal care product(s) qualifies for USDA National Organic Program (NOP) certification, or if you need to pursue NSF/ANSI 305 certification.

To evaluate eligibility for USDA NOP certification, review the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. If you want to use any non-agricultural ingredients, they must be listed for approved use. All non-agricultural ingredients not listed for approved use disqualify your eligibility for USDA NOP certification, but still allow you to pursue NSF/ANSI 305 certification.


NSF/ANSI 305 standards require a product to contain at least 70 percent organic content (by weight).

After clarifying your product(s) appropriate certification standard, you must learn who in your supply chain must be certified. In general, operations that:

  • Physically produce, package, and label products are required to obtain certification
  • Only sell finished, packaged, and labeled products (e.g., brand owners) are not required to obtain certification (but may do so)

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