The Lies Behind Our 'Green' Skincare
We are part of a generation of consumers who LOVE “green’, we are increasingly environmentally aware and the ‘green’ trend creeps into our lives via many avenues, be it our food, our cleaning products, even our cars and fuel supplies. In this artisan, organic culture we are absorbed by, just how many of the major brands are deceiving us and immorally influencing our choices with clever marketing in the name of profit?
A particular bug bare is the incessant unfounded use of these ‘green’ labels in the growing cosmetics industry. As we wander through our favourite beauty departments we are inundated with the terms such as ‘organic’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘natural’ and ‘green’ amongst many others, but just how well founded are these claims and what regulation is in place to ensure our products do what they say on the tin?
Sadly the answer is virtually no regulations are in place to protect the consumer from misleading claims, it is considered acceptable for a product to be branded as natural simply by containing a tiny percentage of a natural product, which then becomes the main focus of advertising campaigns, allowing the customer to believe they are buying a natural product, despite the fact the product may predominately be made up of harmful chemicals and toxins.
The use of ‘natural’ looking packaging often with images of plants and nature, emblazoned with terms such as ‘pure’ or ‘herbal’ teamed with the use of keywords, notifications of recyclable packaging can lead the consumer to trust that they are buying from a environmentally aware, ‘green’ company, when in actual fact the product itself may be awash with hazardous synthetic ingredients.
Many companies are simply using ‘green’ trigger words to allow us to believe that we are purchasing the best thing for our selves and our environment by sticking to ‘natural’ products and yet they are unable to back up these claims with any significant argument, this is known as ‘greenwashing’ and is simply unethical and unacceptable.
Many products on our shelves today claim to be ‘Preservative-Free’ and whilst this is a lovely concept, the reality is in order for our products to have any sort of shelf life they are likely to need some degree of preservatives, for example any product containing water requires a preservative to stop it developing bacteria and becoming unpleasant or even dangerous for use. Some companies use the loop-hole of describing the preservatives as ‘fragrance’. Others are able to list their products as ‘preservative free’ by adding a main ingredient that is an already preserved raw ingredient.
Some brands claim the term ‘non-toxic’, and whilst I certainly would hope it is non-toxic, the chances are that the product will have gone through multiple non environmentally friendly processes during production. Every time these key words are used they influence our opinion of what could be a non-ecologically aware company jumping on the ‘natural’ market band wagon.
Another popular term to describe a product as ‘clean’, this has connotations of ethical and natural goodness giving us the impression that company is clean in all ways, perhaps leading us to believe…they don’t test on animals, they are ecologically friendly, they use natural products, they are paraben and sulphate free, free from preservatives etc, whereas in actual fact this term is most non descript and whilst it may give the right image, the product could be as chemical laden as you like.
Our skin is our largest organ and product absorbs into within 26 seconds, so it seems for as long as the industry makes slow and limited progress in regulating the outrageous claims and misleading branding that many companies use, it is ultimately the responsibility of us, the consumer, to take the time to look at the ingredients and assess for ourselves how ‘green’ we deem a product to be. Don’t allow branding to sway you, make informed educated decisions regarding what you buy and what you want to put on your skin.
I look forward to a time when branding has to be transparent and honest, without misconception for the sake of profit.
Don’t be greenwashed.
- Chloe Wallace