The easiest way to get me into a rage is to tell me about the natural and organic skincare products and how it is so much better than using “all those toxic and harmful chemicals”. The only thing that stops me from physically turning into the Hulk and going H.A.M is that I have never been exposed to heavy and dangerous levels of gamma radiation. The truth is that “natural/organic” and “chemical-free” skincare is a scam and I’ll tell you why.
Greenwashing is an umbrella term that refers to when a brand makes misleading and unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of a product that makes it seem like a healthy alternative to other options when it is in fact, not.
Greenwashing tactics are now increasingly used in the cosmetics and skincare industry where many companies market or advertise their product or the company itself as being “natural” or “organic” when they are most likely not. “Vegan” and “sustainable” have also been used when these products are anything but.
In cosmetics unlike the food industry, the terms “organic” and natural have not been regulated which means they are being used freely and unchecked. Greenwashing is unethical and simply a senseless scaremongering tactic. When labels such as “no parabens and sulphates”, “silicone free” are put front and centre to take your mind off the even more harmful substances that have been sneaked onto the ingredients list.
That is not to say some actual organic products have not done good things. Some do. But it’s not always black and white. Organic does not always mean good and inorganic and synthetic doesn’t equal bad. A product can be natural and still be harmful. Not everything natural is good for you. Same goes for the organic labels. Lots of natural skincare ingredients are unsafe and lots of synthetic ones are beneficial.
I actually prefer well-formulated skincare products that are backed by research to DIY stuff. This one is especially for the “I will only put it on my face if I can put it in my stomach” brigade who love to put yoghurt and lemon on their face for whatever reason. Even lots of food are bad for your body let alone your face. Who else just got PTSD from all those years of putting lemon and tomatoes*shudder* on their faces? And the biggest plot twist of all is that some skincare ingredients are safe for consumption. BA DUM TSS
Chemical-free Labels on Products
But of all the things that make me go HAM, “chemical-free” takes the cake. Everything is made of chemicals. “Chemical-free” is only a marketing term that is used to trick people into buying products that are actually full of chemicals. Unfortunately, there is no regulation on the use of these buzzwords that are deceitfully used to entice consumers which means we the consumers have a lot of homework to do. Like I explained in the post about Preservatives in Skincare it makes me sad when brands who should know better capitalize on these things.
Greenwashing Acts and Terms To Look Out For
- Chemical-Free- Everything on the planet is a chemical including you and me. If a product makes claims not to be full of chemicals then what’s in it?
- Organic- There is no standard way to define or enforce organic. Only 70% of a product needs to pass the test which begs the question: what’s in the other 30%?
- Natural- Again, not everything natural is good for you.
- Preservative-free: Unless a product does not contain water, it needs a preservative.
When standard names in an ingredients list are swapped out for natural sounding ones e.g. replacing “Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride” for “coconut-derived”.
Focusing on shea butter, aloe vera when they only appear at the end of the very long ingredient list. Which means they are only available in the product in negligible amounts and thus have little to no effect as what is being marketed.
Overuse of the colour green in an attempt to look oh so natural.
Tall claims of being CFC free when CFCs are legally banned or “SLES free” when SLES has no business being in a lotion in the first place.