Organic, natural and socially conscious skincare is hotter than ever and it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Mostly it’s a great thing; we’re all a little more concerned with the long-term effect of skincare on our bodies and the planet. Unfortunately, though, there’s a downside to our obsession with all things au naturel.
Can we really trust every product labelled organic or natural, actually is? The short answer is no. You need to do a little homework before trotting off to the checkout with your new ‘natural’ cleanser.
A bunch of skincare companies have jumped on the conscious skincare movement bandwagon to maximise profits by ‘greenwashing’.
If you’ve never heard of it, greenwashing is the term used when companies add one or two natural / organic ingredients to a cheap product (which is actually stuffed full of chemicals) then use wording like ‘contains natural extracts’ or ‘made with organic ingredients’ on the label.
While it’s not actually a false claim, it can easily confuse and mislead us into thinking we’re buying a natural or organic product.
To make things even trickier, the term ‘organic’ isn’t currently regulated under Australian law, which means companies can use the word very loosely. Labels can display the term ‘organic’ even if some of the ingredients are toxic.
How do you know if a product has been greenwashed?
The golden rule to avoid being tricked by sneaky companies greenwashing beauty products? Thou shalt scrutinise the ingredient list.
Don’t just take the words ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ on the front of the label as gospel, it’s up to you to comb the ingredients listing to discover whether or not the product is the real deal.
How to decode a product label
Ingredients are listed in order of the percentage they are found in the product, from highest to lowest. Really zone in on those first 5 ingredients, as a general rule they make up roughly 80% of the product.
Keep an eye out for any of these ingredients making an appearance in the top 5 of the listing. Spot them, or other chemicals, there and it’s likely the product has the stink of greenwashing; the token ‘natural’ ingredients are just marketing hype.
Mineral oil; a colourless and odourless oil that's actually made from petroleum.
Parabens; otherwise known as butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben.
Synthetic fragrances; companies aren’t actually required to list the ingredients in their ‘fragrances’ so they can keep their formulas top secret. This leads to a massive lack of transparency as to what is actually in the product.
Sulfates; these are harsh detergents that strip away the skin’s natural oils, interfering with the protective barrier.
Toluene; a chemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. Yikes!
This isn’t an exhaustive list of toxic ingredients to look out for in greenwashed products, just some of the common culprits!
At Cedar + Stone, we refuse to use ingredients like parabens, artificial colours, sulfates, SLS and SLES. Our skincare is 100% plant based and when we say natural, we mean it baby! No sneaky surprises here.