What is greenwashing and why does it matter? Let’s dive in and talk about greenwashing in the beauty and cosmetics industry.
It’s when a company spends more time and money trying to prove that they are “green” through advertising and marketing than actually doing the business practices that make their products cleaner, less toxic and minimize environmental impact.
It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.
It’s everywhere, from food brands to household cleaning products to personal care and cosmetics. And, it makes me crazy. Companies – big and small – are greenwashing their products and marketing messages in national ad campaigns, magazine and on the labels on the products we buy.
I’ve been talking about this concept in relation to food for years now and am really excited to start sharing more of my research and info in relation to personal care products and cosmetics. It’s so important!
That first part is the key – “disinformation disseminated”. Yes, intentionally spreading the wrong information, or mis-leading, or skirting around the existing laws just enough to intentionally mislead you.
That second part – “to present an environmentally responsible public image”, that is a bit more tricky because it may be how Greenwashing started but in the personal care space it has expanded to present a “natural product”, “a safe product”, “organic” and the famous “dermatologist approved.”
The truth is, these labels are mostly meaningless, even the organic one. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the term “organic” on cosmetic product labels.
That means you need to investigate the company and not the product.
Because that USDA Organic seal on the front of a product only has to meet the following criteria — that some of the ingredients were produced without using pesticides and chemical fertilizers — there can still be questionable ingredients and possibly harmful preservatives and yep, it can be labeled organic.
When it comes to personal care and cosmetics, my first big wake-up call was when I started using these two free iPhone apps to scan my own products.
1. Think Dirty app *free for iPhone and Android*
2. EWG Healthy Living app *free for iPhone and Android*
I like to use both because they have different databases and different criteria to gauge their recommendations on. Plus, they are both free so why not have more info?
So, what does this mean? It means I look for companies who genuinely care about sourcing, about ingredient quality, about sustainability and who keep trying to do better.
It means asking questions and doing research and unfortunately not taking a product at face value as their labels may not be telling the whole story.
This is one of the biggest reasons I decided to get involved with Beautycounter and start posting more about these topics. There is so much misinformation out there and I want all of us to make easier, safer choices.
Besides their #NeverList commitment, to never use 1500 specific and commonly used chemicals in any Beautycounter products, Beautycounter is dedicated to transparency. You can quickly look up the ingredients of any product and even how they are sourced. They will be the first to tell you that not every ingredient is organic, or even GMO-Free, but that they weigh ingredient selection as highly as performance. They don’t hide anything and I really respect that.
Make sure to join my brand new Clean Beauty group on Facebook to continue this conversation and more.
I’m going to do a Facebook Live in there in the next day or two and scan a bunch of my own products that I thought were safe (hello Kiehl’s, I’m looking at you) and show you just how pervasive Greenwashing is!
And, as always if you want to chat about Beautycounter, email me and I’m happy to help you start making safer swaps!