Currently the USDA is the only US-based organization to offer organic certification and instead of adopting its standard, which is not specific to personal care, many companies have been looking to European bodies.
The NSF has now developed a fully organic standard along with a 'made with' standard specifically for personal care manufacturers.
While the NSF organic standard is identical to the USDA's, the 'made with' standard differs in a way that enables manufacturers moving in an organic direction to become certified.
To obtain the 'made with' standard, manufacturers will not be allowed to use petroleum-based ingredients or processes
However, several processes and ingredients banned in the USDA's equivalent will be permitted by the NSF, including certain synthetic preservatives and biodegradable surfactants.
The new standard is very similar to the Soil Association's except that it does allow the sulfation process to produce surfactants and does not permit the use of the petroleum-based surfactant Coco Betaine, said David Bronner, the President of Dr Bronner Soaps, which produces USDA-certified organic soap.
He said it is hoped that the creation of the NSF 'made with' standard will put pressure on the USDA to eventually adopt the criteria for its own standard.
"Big US manufactures have been waiting for the NSF standard, which has branding power, that European certification bodies don't have," added Bronner, who was involved in the development of the NSF standards.
He said not only will the NSF logo be easily recognizable to US consumers but manufacturers that are used to creating products using traditional cosmetic chemistry will have the opportunity to become certified.
The standards are currently at the proposal stage and will be voted upon by the NSF Joint Committee on Personal Care in mid-February.
Bronner said the standards should be introduced in late spring if the vote is positive.
A recent report from Organic Monitor predicted that the number of certified organic products will increase in response to an oversaturated market and increased awareness of mislabeling issues.
The report made reference to the increasing demands of the consumer, stating that 'the growing number of pseudo-natural products is leading consumers to scrutinize the composition of natural and organic personal care products'.
It is no longer sufficient for the words natural or organic to appear on the label - the discerning consumer wants to know the extent to which a product is organic.
Organic certification is a way for manufacturers to make their products stand out within the organics market.