How To Recognize Bogus "Natural" Cosmetics

      First, I don't mean to say that you should use only natural and organic cosmetics -- I use many conventional products that have skin-friendly and non-toxic ingredients. That said, the reason that real natural products are better for you is the fact that natural cosmetics comply to strict standards, whereas the laws for regular cosmetics are way too lax -- many known carcinogens and skin irritants are still allowed by law and used by companies. Real natural cosmetics safeguard the consumer's healthy by the approach that if there is an ingredient that is suspected to be harmful, they don't use it until the ingredient is scientifically proven to be safe.
      Obviously, not every product that advertises itself as "natural" and "plant-based" and "with organic ingredients" is natural. So you should know whether you are buying the real deal or hot air -- especially if you are shelling out more of your hard-earned money for it. In this post I will help you how to recognise real natural cosmetics.

    See the photo of the two sachets on the top of this post? I picked up these two cosmetic samples at my local Vegan bistro. When I got home I examined them more closely, and I realised that only one of them is a real natural cosmetic. Here is how to tell:

A real natural cosmetic is almost always be certified

   There exist several organisations that give a certificate to a product if it meets their standards. You will notice that the product on the right has an Ecocert label. So Ecocert isn't high up on the ladder of natural cosmetic labels, but it's still something. If a product says "natural" on the front bus has no certificate on the back, don't trust it. Here is an overview of natural cosmetic certification: don't get scared, most of them are regional so you need to pay attention only to the ones relevant to your country. For example I pay attention to Ecocert, BDIH and NaTrue.
   You will notice that a lot of "natural" brands don't have any certificates -- for example Lush, The Body Shop (apart from the Nutrigenics line which is EcoCert certified), Aveda, the "natural" lines of most big conventional brands. Here is a nice list of fakers.

A real natural cosmetic contains natural ingredients

   Well, duh. But obviously most of us don't recognise most ingredients. Just because it has a chemical-sounding name doesn't mean it is toxic (Butyrospermum Parkii is just shea butter), and just because it has an easy name doesn't mean it's natural (like mineral oil). In the case of this product, I could identify two of ingredients that sounded a warning bell: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) is a harsh detergent that I have warned you about a dozen times. What on earth is it doing in a face mask anyway? You can also spot two parabens in there -- words that end with -paraben. They are pretty toxic, and I know that they are not allowed in natural cosmetics -- and even many conventional companies stopped putting them into their products.
    The other sachet didn't have an ingredient list on the back, but I traced on down here. Looks quite good, nothing I'd object to.

   To end this, I'd like to show you an extreme example: don't ever trust a cosmetic brand that doesn't tell you what's in its products. I was recently contacted by Merumaya, whose ingredient list is the greatest BS I have seen in a while. You will notice that they don't give a complete list of their ingredients (they omitted consistency givers, preservatives, fragrance, colorants and a bunch of other things), and they don't mention the real names of many of the ingredients. They mention that their fancy-named ingredients "contain" or "are rich in" certain ingredients, but that is just an equivalent of saying that coffee is rich in water.
   I know that ingredient lists according to INCI standards look "scary" to many people and most people cannot (and don't want to) read them, I still think that all cosmetic products absolutely should have them on the packaging for the sake of transparency. If they want, companies can add a "normal language" version of the ingredient list as well, like I have seen several German organic brands doing.

     I have used many products that I thought were natural and was pretty shocked to find out they weren't! If you'd like to do something against mislabeled natural cosmetics or just inform yourself better, this might be a good place to start.

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