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The all-natural beauty industry is booming but are the products as close to nature as advertised? Let’s take a look.
In response to consumer demands for more sustainable, organic and natural products, the beauty market has spiked. While it is a good thing to have more choices, it can also lead to misinformation. There are brands that are marketing baseless claims, a practice commonly known as greenwashing. But with a little sleuthing you can figure out which products are actually worth buying and which are just trying to pass for green.
Ingredient lists should be on the shorter side and contain words that you recognize like shea, coconut, castor and/or moringa oil. Beyond that, you should be skeptical of marketing language that tends to be general. “All natural” has a nice ring to it but what does it truly mean? It should mean that the product does not contain synthetic ingredients. Also, check the Federal Trade Commission‘s website for information before buying products that claim to have beauty and health benefits.
You may have noticed that there are brands that will choose to use packaging that features earth tones and pictures of raw ingredients, flowers, and/or rainbows yet they contain synthetic ingredients. Those little nods to nature are to give the impression that they are all natural or organic. Now, this is where it can become confusing. While some brands will tout that they are organic and may even carry the symbol the FDA, which regulates cosmetics, it does not define what is “organic” rather the United States Department of Agriculture does. In order to bear organic label brands must be produced without genetic engineering, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge. A full list of requirements can be found here.
Why it matters
Many experts suggest avoiding synthetic ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, and phthalates because they have been found to be problematic. As a matter a fact in a recent study from George Mason University researchers found that there are links between chemicals used in personal care and cosmetics that have a negative effect on hormones. These changes have been associated with adverse health outcomes such as breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. But those aren’t the only worrisome findings. The Environmental Working Group which has a database that ranks the safety of cosmetics and similar products on a scale of one to ten (highest hazard) has analyzed over 1,000 products that are marketed to black women and found that only 25% were categorized as “low hazard.” But don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet just because you don’t fall into that category, the number for products marketed to the general public is only 40%. You can check here to see where your favorite brands rank on their scale. Our advice: Always read the label! ■