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August 31, 2021
Policies & Claims

5 Steps to Get EWG VERIFIED™ Quickly

Kimberly Shenk

The biggest challenge beauty brands face today is meeting the endless regulatory demands of retailers, regulators, and customers when building products. The tiny logos on the side of a package are important: shoppers often look for third-party approval when buying transparent and sustainable products.

EWG (Environmental Working Group) has become the most trusted industry-wide certification for beauty and personal care brands. This recognisable seal has become a must-have for brands seeking to prove ambitious sustainability goals to customers.

However, obtaining EWG certification is no small task. On the Novi platform, formulators constantly seek help to obtain the endless ingredient documentation necessary to meet EWG’s complex set of standards. Novi customers frequently ask, “Why is it so difficult and expensive to get EWG certified?

The answer— and some good news

Meeting complex standards (like EWG) requires extremely detailed information on every single ingredient used in a formula, often directly obtained from the ingredient supplier. Obtaining and interpreting this information is no small task. Without proper preparation, it can take 6 months or more to go through the process with EWG— so you’ll want to make sure you show up with everything you need.

Novi has demystified this process for hundreds of brands as the only product formulation and sourcing platform that works directly with suppliers to ingest and organize complex ingredient-level data. This makes building products that meet any standard, including EWG, Clean at Sephora, Cruelty Free, EU Regulatory compliant, Vegan, and others, much easier.

We’ve helped so many brands achieve the seal, which is why we know the steps to getting there like the back of our hands. Here are the 5 critical steps you should take to get EWG VERIFIED™ as fast, and inexpensively, as possible.

1. Know the type of product you’re developing

EWG only verifies the following categories of products:

  • Baby care
  • Haircare
  • Makeup
  • Nail care
  • Skincare
  • Oral care

EWG typically avoids certifying products that have medical functions (like acne treatment), hair straightener, nail glue, eyelash glue, aerosols or recreational sunscreens. Thus, it's important to understand that you may be unable to get certain products verified.

2. Find a contract manufacturer that is reputable and well versed in EWG

Photo by Tero Vesalainen via pixabay

EWG requires proof that your manufacturer follows the current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). They’ll accept an officially signed affidavit as your proof, but be careful to make sure your manufacturer can actually prove compliance— EWG may request a copy of their GMP documentation at any time.

Ask the manufacturer if they’ve ever formulated an EWG VERIFIED™ product before— it’s trickier and more complicated than you think. So if they tell you it’s a piece of cake, buyer beware!

EWG sometimes requires additional testing on your final product, so make sure the manufacturer has ties to a testing facility.

INSIDER TIP: Ask the contract manufacturer (CM) to share their internal interpretation/ documentation on EWG VERIFIED™ so you can make sure it meets the cut (see the reference links below). Or, ask them to provide an example of a brand and product they built that got verified.

3. Start by choosing THE RIGHT ingredients from the get-go

This might sound obvious, but save yourself from the time-consuming task of figuring out where to track down all the data from for each of your ingredients. You may uncover that an ingredient doesn't comply, or worse— you may not even be able to get the data at all. Then, it's back to the drawing board to reformulate, and now you've missed your launch date!

Many brands build their product first, and then— fingers crossed— hope their beloved formulation meets the criteria. Instead, start by choosing ingredients that already comply with the EWG VERIFIED™ criteria.

INSIDER TIP: Ask your formulator to prove that all of the ingredients in a potential formula comply with the EWG criteria BEFORE they send you a sample.

Use this cheat sheet:

  1. Don’t use ingredients on EWG’s “Unacceptable” list: Personal Care Products
  2. Don’t use ingredients on EWG’s “Restricted” list: Personal Care Products above the allowed concentrations
  3. Use ingredients that score a "green" in EWG's Skin Deep® database

4. Get ready to disclose

EWG is all about ingredient transparency, so if that feels uncomfortable to you, think twice about starting this process. Here’s a list of items you must complete:

  • Disclose a list of all intentionally added ingredients on your product label and website.
  • Including but not limited to: ingredients used in fragrances, flavor mixtures, and chemicals used to coat mineral ingredients

INSIDER TIPS: Make sure you’re using standard ingredient naming guidelines by using the International Nomenclature for Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI) labeling found in the International Cosmetics Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.

Or, just upload your ingredient list to Novi— we’ll be able to resolve each of your ingredients to the proper INCI, and can help you identify which ingredients need special allergen or nanomaterial labeling!

5. Stay up-to-speed on generally good product development practices

Be prepared to show you’ve passed basic microbial challenge testing, and commit to submitting all reports of product problems or serious adverse events to the FDA.

Thankfully, Novi is equipped to help you with all five steps. We'll connect you with the best of the best, streamline the documentation collection process, and even have free tools available for you to use right now.

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