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The Highs and Lows of Green Certifications

By: Dr. Sundeep Gill
Posted: June 24, 2014, from the July 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Another growing area of the green movement is genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. GMO awareness has gained momentum in recent years, partially due to the narrow loss of California Proposition 37—a statute voted down in November 2012 that would have required labeling of genetically engineered food, with exceptions. It also would have disallowed the practice of labeling genetically engineered food with the word “natural.”

GMO verification in beauty products relies on simply not using feedstock from plants that have been genetically modified or crossbred with other species in the product’s ingredients. Although no clear difference has ever been substantiated between an ingredient derived from non-GMO ingredients versus ingredients derived from GMOs, this standard has become increasingly popular due to widespread awareness of GMO foods.

During the non-GMO verification process, beauty brand owners need to assess both the ingredients used in their products and the ingredients of an ingredient—leading all the way back to the source material—in order to do a proper audit. In some cases, this can be a difficult task, as source material suppliers can be closely guarded or can change often enough for them to be difficult to track.

Weighing Your Options

Overall, beauty brand owners will continue to find new ways to differentiate themselves from all other product lines. The use of green-certified standards has been an invaluable tool to verify and lend definition to natural products, but many barriers remain to certification. These barriers include cost, recognizability of the certification standard and the formulation constrains of using a green certification standard that may not have a wide selection of cosmetic ingredients or ingredient synthesis processes available yet.

Brand owners must carefully weigh their choices to make sure that adhering to any green certification standard will be giving their brand the advantages and positioning that they are looking for without hurting overall quality.

Dr. Sundeep Gill has been involved with the beauty and cosmetic industry for many years, first working for Carme Cosmetics in Novato, California, in 1987, where he started out in the quality control lab. He soon worked his way up to a research chemist, and in this position, he learned the possibilities of creating natural products based on science-driven ingredients. A few years later Sun Deep Cosmetics opened its first manufacturing plant in Hayward, California. Here Dr. Gill was able to put his creative skills into motion, developing popular personal care products in the natural products industry. Dr. Gill attended the University of the Pacific, where he attained his bachelors degree and ultimately his doctor of pharmacy degree. Soon after, he completed an internship and residency at Stanford University Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the Veterans Hospital. Through this work Dr. Gill published several articles on pharmacotherapy and drug delivery and assisted in several clinical studies involving topical drug delivery and chemotherapy. Dr. Gill is a registered pharmacist and still practices as a clinical pharmacologist when he is not working as a personal care research chemist. And an avid educator, Dr. Gill still preceptors to doctor of pharmacy candidates around the country. He currently lives in San Ramon, California, with his wife and three daughters.