Words like Natural, Vegan, Safe, Green and Eco-friendly on your deodorant, shampoo or cosmetics label makes you think you are buying a healthy, clean product right? Wrong! As consumer consciousness grows around the importance of reducing our own chemical exposure, and choosing more environmentally friendly products. It is fast becoming the fashion for companies to ‘green-wash’ their products.
Green-washing is common practice in the beauty, personal care and home products industrie where manufacturers use vague, misleading and sometimes untrue claims about the health and environmental benefits of their products. With many ingredients in these products being linked to health concerns like hormonal disruption, abnormal cellular function, infertility and even cancer there is no doubt that education around this issue is necessary. Unfortunately, no matter how discerning the consumer, this can be an incredibly deceptive and difficult terrain to navigate.
So what do you look for when shopping for these products and how do you know if their claims to ‘natural’ and ‘safe’ are true? To help you out we have put together our top 5 ‘buyer beware’ green-wash flags:
- “Natural” - This is a buzz-word that is particularly close to our heart. Poison Ivy is natural, but you wouldn’t want it in your beauty products. ‘Natural’ is a term that doesn’t mean the product is safe or good for your health. Not only can some natural ingredients be harmful, but sometimes ‘natural’ does not even mean ‘natural’! Many companies will use the word ‘natural’ in their name or the name of the product, even when the product contains numerous synthetic ingredients. That way it is not a claim they are making that their product is natural, it is simply their name! But not all products that claim to be natural are trying to deceive you, The Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep Guide rates 74,000 beauty products for their safety & ingredients using a comprehensive and easy understand rating.
- “Non-toxic” - Non-toxic does not mean the product contains zero toxins or that is not harmful. It implies that it is a safer alternative than other ingredients or formulations and that it possibly does not have the same severe adverse health implications.
- “Green” - The term ‘Green’ implies that the product is a natural product and is safe for the environment. Unfortunately not so. The International Standards Organisation has deemed the word too vague to hold any weight when it comes to describing the properties of a product. It is also important to watch out for bogus claims to certification like ‘Certified Green’ and fancy self-designed seals. Instead look for certification by a third-party organisation including: NASAA Organic, Australian Certified Organic, Bioagricert, Ecocert, B Corp, Cruelty Free, and Carbon Neutral No C02.
- “Fragrance Free” - the fragrance or perfume used in beauty, personal care & household products is often the most harmful ingredient to our health. Its documented health effects range from abnormal cellular function and reproduction, to hormonal disruption. Fragrance is often substituted by equally as harmful chemicals like DEA, SLS & artificial colouring. It may also be substituted by poor quality ‘essential oils’ that can trigger skin sensitivities & allergies.
- “Dermatologically Tested” - and? What were the results? How many times have you seen this claim made on beauty products and never once the results of the testing. For all we know they could have been concerning results showing a picture of skin irritation & rash, carcinogenic effects, & infertility! Claiming that a product has been tested in no way means that is safe for you, or the environment.
- "Vegan" - maybe one of the most used claims on beauty & personal care products these days. A LOT of people think that when a products is vegan it is good for you. We wish, but we have to bring you the bad news that it only says that the product does not contain any animal products. It is not a certification that says anything about any other ingredient in your product. These can be natural, synthetic, good or bad, for you or the planet.
What can you do to ensure you are buying products that are good for you & the planet?
We recommend always reading the ingredients label. Know the most common nasties and their pseudonyms and always buy from a trusted retailer. At Nourished we only stock ‘Real Natural’ products. We spend 100’s of hours researching products, their ingredients and their certifications so you don’t have to! When you buy a product from Nourished you can trust that you are buying THE BEST natural products on the market. We know all of our brands personally & choose them based not only on their commitment to making the finest products, but also their philosophy of giving back to the environment & humanitarian causes. Visit the website to check out the incredible range of natural beauty, personal care & home products.