Pseudo Natural Cosmetics: Greenwashing By The Body Shop And Burt's Bees

What's the difference between cosmetics labeled as natural and certified natural ones? 

   The Öko Test Magazine recently ran an article on green-washing by cosmetic brands. Many mainstream cosmetic companies have cashed in on the green boom by starting a line of products branded as 'natural'. Öko Test tested them to see just how do they differ from certified natural cosmetics.

Brands tested?

 Conventional brands like Garnier Skin Naturals, Yes To, Palmolive Naturals, Schwarzkopf and also brands with a natural image like Yves Rocher, Artdeco skin yoga, Aveda, Burt's Bees and The Body Shop.

The results?

Not only were most ingredients synthetic rather than than natural, but many of them are associated with health risks. The problematic ingredients were synthetic surfactants, silicones, synthetic conservants, paraffin, chemical UV-filters and synthetic fragrances, among others. Not only are these ingredients synthetic and not natural, they are of questionable safety and forbidden by the standards of most certificates for natural cosmetics.

   The problem is that the label "natural" is not protected by law. Interestingly, Öko Test writes that most of the producers are aware that their products are not natural. For example The Body Shop claims to be "inspired" by nature, so it's not actually promising that their products are all-natural. Yet how many girls stop to analyse such advertising tactics?

Tips for buying really natural products:

The easy way: Choose certified natural cosmetics. Here is a simple guide to certificates. You will more likely find such products in health stores.

The analytical approach way:
   Like I already mentoned, many brands produce toxin-laden products as well as skin-friendly ones, and a glimpse at the ingredient list quickly reveals which are which. Here is how to do it:
* Skim through the ingredients: if it contains mineral oil / paraffin, silicones (ending with -cone), parabens (ending with -paraben) or sulfates; it is not good.
* Claims made by the front of the container should be checked at the back (the ingredient list): products labeled "with insert natural ingredient here" often have mineral oil / paraffin / alcohol / other chemical as their top ingredients, with the advertised natural ingredient near the end of the list (meaning there is very little of it in the product, ingredients being listed in order of quantity).
* Skin Deep Cosmetics Database: shows the toxicity level of cosmetics and their ingredients. It's really a nifty tool! I searched for The Body Shop and Burt's Bees and it's interesting to see how their products range from low-concern to high-concern.

  Hope this post helps you to pick out the good products.

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