Ah the big reveal, finally the mainstream press has become aware of ‘green-washing’. They have given us a ‘Tadah!’ moment – that some ‘organic’ beauty goods are not as green as they seem. They say that some major brands have been accused of misleading customers by falsely labelling their products.
I’ve been talking about this for years, my website is called ‘Imperfectly Natural’ and I don’t expect you (or me) to get everything right, but I do believe it’s critical to opt to buy from brands who are really authentic about their intentions.
In my first book ‘Imperfectly Natural Woman’ I spoke at length about the problems with the word ‘organic’, it’s been high-jacked by marketing companies who have recognised that consumers want organic and natural skincare and beauty. A recent Mintel report said that there was a 40 per cent growth in sales of natural and organic skincare and beauty products. Consumers can see the benefits, to the environment, to sustainability and to their own health and wellbeing, and organic products are not only appealing to the ‘eco warrior’ – it seems now the super discerning consumer is recognising that natural and organic products can surpass their chemical competitors.
It’s now all out there, some beauty brands including leading High Street retailers, have been accused of ‘falsely’ labelling their products as organic and misleading customers. Apparently 69 per cent of people felt misled.
The research was conducted by The Soil Association and I say in all my books, do look for their stamp, if a brand has gone as far as to get a certification (it’s not cheap or quick) you can safely say they do what they say on the tin, as it were. They found that products labelled ‘organic’ actually contained ingredients that were potentially toxic.
In fact, Professor Vyvyan Howard at the heart of the study from Ulster University, said:
‘I was shocked to find ingredients which could contain human carcinogens in products with labels which could misleadingly suggest that they might be organic.’
I don’t believe the companies are intentionally misleading, but if you have a tiny amount of organic ingredients in your product, yet you are trying to lead with that word in your marketing, something is wrong. Many years ago, I spoke about how we hired an au pair from Romania, she arrived to the ’affluent west’ and was a bit shocked as to how ‘old style’ our cleaning cupboard and toiletry cupboard was. It took her a while to get used to our vinegar and bicarb for cleaning and only natural skincare, soaps and toothpastes. One day when she had got the measure of me she bought me gift, a bottle of shampoo, it was labelled Organic Aloe Vera shampoo, and sure enough it did contain a tiny percentage of organic Aloe Vera! All good then!
Not really because in addition it contained a whole host of potentially toxic ingredients that I wouldn’t put anywhere near my skin or hair.
It’s difficult if you want to opt for natural and organic products and don’t know where to start, I’d say look for products that are certified organic, that’s the quickest way to fast-track you. But do remember that some of the smaller companies can be one hundred per cent organic and natural but they just can’t afford the certification at the moment. It’s all about doing your homework, look at the authenticity of the brand, those who really care will make it their business to convey their intentions, they will put clearly on their marketing…No SLS, No Parabens, No Preservatives, No Artificial Fragrances et al. So, in other words, don’t be swayed by the fact that a product contains Tea Tree Oil, Aloe Vera et al, lovely as those ingredients might be – focus on the ingredients that the brand have made a song and dance about NOT containing!
I have always admitted to being ‘imperfectly natural’, I believe we all need to take the ‘small change, big difference’ approach, so I have tried to be open to a good number of the really ethical brands, some of them are tiny, one woman at her kitchen table making skincare, some – like AEOS are a huge brand yet still entirely ethical in their approach.
Check out www.imperfecltynatural.com for my recommendations