We live in the age of information, where anything can be researched at the tap of a few keys. With such resources at our disposal, it’s great that more people are becoming concerned about product safety. Many look for labels that read “natural”, “organic”, or “chemical-free” when it comes to choosing beauty products. We link these words with better and safer products for skin. Unfortunately, because there is a lack of clarity in the regulation under the U.S. Federal on how companies can name and claim their products, many of these messages are false and misleading. Companies greenwash their products for marketing purposes instead of putting real effort into making truly natural products.
Greenwashing isn’t just about playing word games. Companies are ignoring the danger of harmful chemicals being used in products, and they don’t want you to catch on. You’d be surprised to know that some of the biggest brands heavily greenwash their products, yet are known for selling ‘natural’ products. Companies can easily dress up product packing and ads with misleading words and images to create green illusions -- we’ll teach you to recognize the red flags of greenwashing, so you can make sure your favorite products aren’t pretending to be something it’s not.
5 Signs You're Being Green-washed
Due to lapses in regulation for beauty products, you’ll often see words like “natural”, “organic”, “non-toxic”, “chemical-free”, “botanical” and more. That being said, companies can use these words to describe products without having to be responsible for what they claim. To be a smart shopper, always take a few seconds to flip to the ingredients list. If you catch synthetic chemicals such as parabens, fragrance, triclosan, or sodium lauryl sulfate (and more), you’ve just been greenwashed! These dangerous chemicals are absorbed by skin and enter the bloodstream, leaving your health at risk.
Sure, sometimes companies aren’t completely lying about their green ingredients. When we see highlighted words like “paraben-free” and “fragrance-free”, we automatically classify the product as safe. While the product is free from a particular chemical listed, it still contains many other chemicals that are even more harmful. Companies easily take advantage of customers’ lack of knowledge on unsafe ingredients to market their products as safe. The accumulation of these chemicals can become a big health concern, considering that women use an average of 12 products a day.
We’re all familiar with the skin care benefits of some of the most commonly used botanical ingredients: green tea for antioxidants, lemon for vitamin C, aloe for anti-inflammation. Many products are promoted with the focus of one or few natural ingredients, insinuating that these ingredients make up the majority of the product formula. This allows companies to draw the customer’s attention from the full ingredients list, by promoting the only natural aspect of the product. Next time you’re out, do a quick shopping experiment! If a product’s front panel is heavily focused on one natural ingredient (like coconut, argan oil, green tea etc), check the back panel to be sure of its natural status. By law, the ingredients list can’t lie. Ingredients are listed in order of predominance. You might be surprised by how low that ingredient will be on the list! That means there is a very small percentage of it in the product -- sometimes too small to even be beneficial to your skin.
Often times companies put more effort on packaging and campaigns to make products seem natural and safe. They commonly use images of plants, fruits, and vegetables, helping to mislead customers to believe that what’s on the packaging matches what’s in the container. Brands also call upon images of the ocean, forest, animals, or other natural elements to plant the seed of “natural” association in the customer’s minds. Perhaps most commonly employed is the color green in packaging; a literal GREENwashing tactic that means absolutely nothing. These methods are all undeniably creative, but still examples of greenwashing at its finest.
Carefully inspect third party labels on product packaging, because there are definitely some frauds out there. Some legitimate third-party labels you might see are NSF certified, Leaping Bunny certified, Rainforest Certified, etc. Believe it or not, there are companies that use fake labels as endorsement of their green claims, and they are carefully designed to look extremely similar to a legitimate third party logo. Be educated on third-party certifications such as USDA, the only government-regulated system in the U.S. to certify product as organic.
How about some good news? Brands like Puristry have you covered with the purest ingredients, and our ingredient lists don’t lie. Check the ingredient list for our Vine Therapy Serum: organic aloe water, organic vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract, organic butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, and other healthy ingredients from nature. That way you know exactly what’s being absorbed by your skin. Our products are USDA certified organic, meaning you will never have to watch out for false claims. We’re bringing you the purest and safest options for your skin, so we’ve got no reason for distracting you from the truth.