Greenwashing in Skincare. Learn How to Identify and Avoid It.
I've been working in the healthcare sector for over twenty years, both locally and globally and I have spent those decades re-educating my clients on the true impact of marketing falsehoods in relation to food groups. Unfortunately, consumers have largely been "educated" by marketing departments, these marketing campaigns have been built on lies and have created a plethora of modern diseases as a result.
It is safe to say I dont hold a great regard for many marketing campaigns.
There is no shortage of beauty and skincare products on the market today, also using clever marketing tactics, it can be quite confusing for we, as consumers, to know exactly what we’re buying in to.
What is Greenwashing? This is a term used to describe when a brand makes claims to be 'green' and 'natural' through their marketing, yet chances are there is more effort put into the perception rather than the actual practice. A claim that makes the product or brand seem like a ‘healthy’ alternative, an environmentally conscious option, when, in fact, it is not.
Consumers have been putting a lot of pressure on the skincare and cosmetic industry lately. We want more natural products and companies are beginning to listen to us. But in a market that has next to no regulation for cosmetic products, that means we’re not getting the natural products we deserve. Companies can make claims that their products are natural, hypoallergenic, full of amazing natural ingredients or even organic without having to prove anything.
Unfortunately for us, companies are aware of this lack of legislation. They make all kind of claims on their packaging knowing there’s no obligation to back those claims up with whats inside the bottle.
Did you know that there is no regulation for claims made on a COSMETIC product label in Australia? The TGA will only step in when products claim to prevent disease or effect the structure or function of the body - make a therapuetic claim. It’s what allows companies to use these green buzzwords to market their products and convince us to buy them thinking we’ve made a good choice for ourselves.
For example, if a product claims to have 'natural shea butter' and awesome essential oils but you turn the bottle over and can’t find either on the ingredient list until the very end, then they’re stretching the truth and using buzzwords they know you’ll like. (Ingredients are listed from highest concentration to lowest.)
The phrase basically implies that components once came from a natural source but they have been altered in some way, usually delivering a chemically laden form of the original ingredient.
The word ‘natural’ can be the thing that gets the purchases across the line, however the term ‘natural’ is often misused. “In some cases, this can mean that only a small percentage of a product’s ingredient is plant-based or originally ‘natural’, but has now, in fact gone through a production process which now results in a less-than-natural form.”
It’s the same for a lot of other natural buzzwords as well, including organic, organically sourced. This means we have to trust that the particular company has our best interests in mind. And not their bottom line. Call me cynical, but there are a LOT of companies that I’m unwilling to give that trust to.
No nasties such as parabens, sulphates, etc
Many brands make a lot of noise in regards to the toxic chemicals that aren’t contained in their products, such as parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, sulphates etc. It's a great way of shifting the focus to what’s not in their products, rather than discussing what actually is.
Greenwashing is Used to Sell Products
At the end of the day, buzzwords like “organic” and “sulfate free” are intended to convince you to buy a product. Companies know we are looking for natural products. So they use these labels and natural styled branding to sell to you. Now I’m a sucker for beautiful packaging as much as the next person. But you need to stay a little cynical and look for the telling signs of greenwashing.
You’re the only person who can control the products you use every day. And the best way to protect yourself is to educate yourself.
The Ingredient List
The only place where companies aren’t allowed to lie is the ingredient list. Well..almost. They can still hide things under the term 'fragrance'. This is the one spot on a product’s label where you can find the information that will help you discover if a product is greenwashed.
Unfortunately the list of toxic ingredients you should avoid is a long one (and constantly growing longer). I certainly don’t have it memorized and I assume you’re not interested in memorizing it either. But with a little practice reading ingredient lists, you won’t need to have every product memorized to know whether a product is a good choice or not.
Trust Your Gut
I’m a sucker for beautiful design and, a complete cynic when it comes to marketing claims. I’ve fallen victim to a lot of really awesome packaging. But I know there’s no regulation over making some claims on labels. So if something is shouting about being organic, hypoallergenic or full of essential oils, I take it with a grain of salt.
If the claims feel too good to be true, or a little gimmicky to you, definitely trust your gut.
Honestly with one quick glance you should be able to tell whether something has way too many toxins or not. But I’m a bit of a purist and heavily limit the ingredients in the products I use. If a product consists of LESS THAN 5 ingredients that I can easily pronounce, or dont need to the dictionary to understand, I’m a happy camper.
Maybe you want to focus on getting rid of the DIRTY DOZEN (the top 12 worse offenders). Or maybe you want to look at an ingredient list and actually recognize some of the ingredients as plants, even if there’s some synthetic ingredients further down on the list.
These days there’s more attention than ever on natural beauty, but none of the regulations in place to make sure we’re getting true natural products. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of greenwashing and be able to recognize all of the signs. Marketing teams are hoping we desire green products but have none of the knowledge that keeps us safe from their tricks.
The Caim & Able Promise
I can tell you with every ounce of confidence that greenwashing is something that never has, and will never occur at Caim & Able. We never claim something we’re not.
Every single product in our range has less than 5 ingredients, and not one of them is man made. Our ingredients are sourced meticulously. We use a blend of natural, wild-crafted, and where possible, certified organic. Every natural ingredient is chosen for its ability to bring about a healing change, we source locally wherever possible to bring you simple, uncomplicated but effective natural wellness products and skincare.
Transparency and authenticity are core values of the brand and every ingredient and its purpose will always be communicated so you can trust that what you’re putting on your skin is safe, ethical, and completely and wholly good for you.
There is NOT, and WILL NEVER BE any synthetic, human-made, chemical or harmful ingredients in ANY Caim & Able product.
Have you buy something you thought was good for you but upon further research, wasn’t?
I hope I've shed a little light on what to look for, if you have any questions, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org