Green Beauty Newbie: How to Avoid Greenwashed Beauty Products

15 Jul 2015

You see a product on the shelf, it has a green colour scheme, claims "no parabens" and may say "natural" on the bottle...but is it actually a natural or organic product? Probably not...
More and more companies are misleading consumers into thinking their products are natural, organic and even eco-friendly in the slightest. As you make your journey to using more natural products, you'll need to read the ingredients lists to make sure you are buying a genuine natural or organic product as many brands will use words like "natural" "organix" "eco" "pure" and "botanic" to try and trick you. Just because it says natural or it looks green, doesn't necessarily mean the ingredients reflect that ethos too. Also, a brand might have "paraben free" on the bottle, but that just means they've had to replace it with something else, which might not always be any better.

Here are a few examples of brands that I've come across before, that in my opinion don't have the best ingredients and didn't have any certifications to back up their natural or organic claims: Aveda, Aveeno, Arbonne, Boots Botanics, LUSH, Nivea Pure & Natural, Origins, Simple, The Body Shop.

It's a shame that brands do this because it puts a bad name on truly natural products and brands. Here's what you can do to try and avoid being sucked in by green-washing brands:

- Read the ingredients list instead of believing what the marketing or packaging says. Ingredients lists will reveal what is actually in the products so if a brand claims to have "naturally active ingredients" for example, argan oil or shea butter in a hand wash, check to see what other ingredients are in there too as it's likely it won't all be natural.

- Use the EWG Skin Deep website to check on toxicity levels for certain ingredients. The higher the number, the worse the ingredient. i.e. argan oil is a 0 but propylparaben is a 7.

-  Look for certifications. A product might say organic on the label but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be organic. A brand might use "certified organic" ingredients but the actual product itself won't be certified organic because of the other ingredients. The Soil Association is the most reputable organic certification in the UK along with EcoCert in Europe and USDA in America. A certification stamp is a guarantee that the product will have some organic ingredients. There will be some brands who won't have certification because it is very expensive to get certified, so if you can't find a stamp, contact the brand & ask!


Unfortunately there needs to be more done by the Advertising Standards Authority in my opinion, as in 2012, Boots was investigated over the marketing of "Little Me Organics Oh So Gentle Hair & Body Wash" because it was found that it had less than 5% organic ingredients and that it was misleading...however this is STILL happening with more and more products and it should not be allowed. 

Obviously there are different levels of green-washing and brands making claims and it does all come down to personal preference depending on how natural you want your products to be. However I wanted to still do this post to touch up on those brands who have 1 or 2 natural ingredients inside a crappy product and claim it to be natural!

I will touch up on certifications at a later date & include a link in this post once it is published.

Have you ever been tricked by a brand? 

Amber
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