The cosmetics aisle of any store can be an intimidating place. Claims such as “all-natural ” and “made with organic ingredients” are becoming more and prevalent. In a 2017 survey, it was found that more than 6 in 10 women read product ingredients before purchasing, and 75% of women between the ages of 18–34 say that purchasing green beauty products is important to them.1 On the other hand, many people are still purchasing SPF products, chemical peels, and other skincare that contains artificial ingredients.
Nevertheless, “natural” skincare and cosmetics are becoming more popular, with consumers more concerned about ingredient lists than ever. Because of this, there are a large number of companies that are portraying their products in a false light.
Watch Out for Greenwashing
Greenwashing is when a company or organization portrays its products or services in a way that misleads consumers. This is purely for marketing purposes, with the aim of making more money through wording or imaging that makes them seem more “eco-friendly.” In reality, these products have no ecological benefit and may even be harming the environment.
There are a few different types of greenwashing to watch out for. One is simply using packaging that includes the color green and images of plants and animals. If you take a look at truly eco-friendly products, the packaging is usually (although not always) much more simple.
Another type includes false claims such as “natural,” “clean,” “certified,” and “made with organic ingredients.” None of these terms mean anything unless the product was actually certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unless this seal is on a product claiming to be organic, you should be wary.
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If a product isn’t certified organic, it isn’t necessarily bad. It just means that you need to do some digging to find out the ingredients used in the product and the means of production. Additionally, look out for other terms that can help determine whether a product is greenwashed:
- Made with ingredients sourced from nature
- Natural ingredients
- Made with organic ingredients
- Naturally fragranced
The Difference Between Natural Ingredients and Artificial Ingredients
Let’s use argan oil found at the drugstore as an example. This hypothetical product has the words “argan oil” and “natural” on the front of its packaging. At first glance, it may seem like a great choice. But when you turn the product over, and you see argan oil low on the list of ingredients, many of which you don’t recognize. Parabens, synthetic fragrance, and mineral oil are all common ingredients in greenwashed products.
Because the word “natural” isn’t regulated, you need to dig deep into the ingredients to know what you’re truly buying. “Natural fragrance” is an ingredient that you should especially watch out for. There are typically three types of fragrance in skincare and cosmetics: essential oils, synthetic fragrance oils, and natural fragrance oils.
If a product uses pure essential oils, these are included on the list of ingredients and not hidden under the term “fragrance.” Synthetic fragrances are laboratory-made and typically contain petroleum byproducts. They are much cheaper to make, and typically retain their scent for longer. Natural fragrances are also made in a laboratory, but they are created by isolating a specific compound from a natural scent, such as jasmine or lemon. Even though they are sourced from nature, there is no guarantee that they haven’t been mixed with synthetic ingredients.2
What to Look for When Buying Products
Don’t take packaging and marketing techniques at face value. When you’re searching for products, ask questions. Is the company owned by a large corporation? What is the full list of ingredients? Where do they source their ingredients?
When in doubt, always opt for products that use pure essential oils or whole plant extracts. Don’t purchase products that have long, suspicious ingredient lists, and always do your own research on specific companies and ingredients.
MONQ has a team of botanists, chemists, aromatherapists, pharmacologists, clinicians, and engineers that all work together to create aromatherapy blends. All ingredients are sourced ethically from around the world—in the United States, when available, and elsewhere when required. The plants are followed by MONQ scientists from their source all the way to the final product, ensuring that the process is both ethical and responsible from start to finish.
All of MONQ’s essential oils are sustainably wildcrafted, non-GMO, and/or organically grown. Each blend is composed of an 80% organic, coconut-derived vegetable glycerin base and 20% essential oil blend. That’s it—no other fillers. You can learn more about the ingredients in MONQ here.
Photo credits: BogdanSonjachnyj/shutterstock.com, ARTFULLYPHOTOGRAPHER/shutterstock.com, mythja/shutterstock.com, antoniodiaz/shutterstock.com