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ISO 16128, an international definition of naturality

For more than 35 years, SILAB has been using nature’s potential to propose active ingredients obtained exclusively from natural raw materials, either plants or using biotechnologies. Find out our focus on naturality through the ISO 16128 standard.

ISO 16128, an international standard defining natural & biological cosmetic ingredients

Even though it is very important when discussing cosmetic ingredients, naturality has been clearly defined only recently.
Before this, there was no internationally recognized consensus for defining a natural cosmetic ingredient. Every market could therefore choose its own criteria.
Several years of negotiations among industry leaders, academics and standardization authorities were required to reach an initial consensus in 2016 by the ISO (International Standard Organization).

Standard ISO 16128 therefore provided an international definition of naturality by establishing “guidelines on technical definitions and criteria for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients”.

In order to harmonize terminologies used in cosmetics and provide transparency, standard ISO 16128 defines three major categories of cosmetic ingredients: natural ingredients, ingredients derived from natural materials and non-natural ingredients.

Three principal criteria were used to establish this classification:

of the raw material



When the origins of the raw material and solvents are certified organic, the ingredients are placed in the categories of natural organic ingredients or ingredients derived from natural organic materials.

Origin of the raw material:
When developing a cosmetic ingredient, the choice of raw materials governs its final composition. They may be natural or obtained by chemical synthesis. Certain plant and microorganic origins therefore comply with ISO 16128 criteria.

Solvents used:
In order to extract the molecules of interest, a prior step of solubilization of the raw material is required. This can be done using solvents of chemical or natural origin. According to standard ISO 16128, only the use of solvents derived from natural materials or water can be used to obtain ingredients defined as natural or natural-derived.

Manufacturing process:
Specific manufacturing processes are applied to solubilized raw materials in order to obtain molecules with high added value. They may lead to more or less substantial modifications of the initial structure, for example by the use of a step of chemical synthesis or hydrolysis. Only certain manufacturing processes are authorized by standard ISO 16128, among which are acid or enzymatic hydrolysis. The resulting ingredient is then qualified as natural-derived. If other processes are used, the ingredient may then be classified as “non-natural”. It is to be noted that in order for an ingredient to be defined as natural, there must be no modification of its initial structure.

SILAB’s active ingredients and standard iso 16128

Since its creation, SILAB has proven that its mastering of nature is both one of the drivers of its innovation and one of the indispensable pillars of the quality of its products.

SILAB has completely included this fundamental notion of naturality in its practices by choosing to use exclusively raw materials of plant or microorganic origins, employing only solvents derived from natural materials or water, as well as eco-designed processes.

100% of SILAB’s active ingredients are therefore natural or natural-derived according to standard ISO 16128.

Aline Rigal Dachaud

Innovation Management Project Leader
Doctor in analytical chemistry applied to skin characterization, I have always had a passion for science. My job as Innovation Management Project Leader at SILAB allows me to combine curiosity, creativity and innovation in order to participate in the development of new natural cosmetic active ingredients.

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