Commandment No. 2
Remember your mother telling you to never trust a stranger? The same theory applies to most beauty products: Don't trust a word they say.
Brands are capitalizing on consumer desire for organic and natural makeup and personal care products by writing green-friendly catch phrases into product descriptions. What originated as an industry for the improvement of your health now possesses imitators just looking for some extra greenbacks not the type of green you want companies to prioritize.
Be wary of this language:
- Made with organic essential oils
- Contains organic ingredients
- Made with nontoxic ingredients
- 100 percent natural
- Essentially nontoxic
- Environmentally safer
- Hypoallergenic/Dermatologist Tested/Allergy Tested/Non-Irritating
Language like "100 percent natural" and "made with organic essential oils" seem legitimate. The reality is that the United States Food & Drug administration only regulates organic food products. That means that plant-derived ingredients are not certified organic by the USDA and may have been grown with chemical fertilizers, toxic pesticides and other harsh chemicals. (See an explanation for what 'organic' means on beauty labels.)
Terms like "natural," "earth-friendly" and "nontoxic" are also not regulated, and companies are able to use these terms at will. It's up to the consumer to differentiate marketing from reality by refusing to buy products that use misleading claims.
Phrases that lead you believe the product is "allergy free" can be false. Pure, natural ingredients like avocado or honey can still irritate your skin, depending on the person. No matter the promise, be prudent and to do a simple patch test with a free sample before buying.
Same for cosmetics using "vegan" ingredients: Sure, you may be using a product free from ingredients derived from animals, like milk, honey, and animal fats, but this claim doesn't necessarily guarantee the product is free of harsh chemicals.
And while it seems reassuring that the product may be "cruelty-free," claims of no-animal testing don't necessarily translate to safe and gentle ingredients.
Always check the ingredients list. Chances are that product touting "contains organic ingredients" has only one certified organic ingredient. The "100 percent natural" product can still contain suspect preservatives and parabens. And who knows what "environmentally safer" or "earth-friendly" even really means. The government doesn't regulate the use of those terms, so there's no standard definition leaving the claims open to misleading marketing claims.
Just think about the term "essentially nontoxic." Companies choose to focus on the few safe ingredients, neglecting to tell you about that other stuff. They might be taking your money in exchange for a supposedly "green" product that in contains a handful of safe ingredients mixed into some sort of cheap chemical cocktail.
One tricky thing about this list: Some very good products may include label claims using these terms. But they will also include reputable third-party certifications that back up vague marketing terms.