What You Need to Know About the Cosmetic Marketing Machines.

In today’s ever increasingly educated world, where almost everyone in the developed populations has constant access to the internet and the mass of information that it provides, we are becoming much more aware of what is happening in the world around us. As a consequence of, that ever-increasing knowledge, is the corresponding expectations people are having of leaders and corporations to do the right thing and to take responsibility of their roles as influential entities in our communities.

As a result, more and more people are becoming aware of the harsh and sometimes dangerous chemicals cosmetic and even food manufacturing companies are putting in products that we regularly put on our skin and in our bodies. With this awareness comes outrage and demand for change. So many of us as consumers are expecting, among other things, that cosmetic companies change their historic behaviour, and instead of thinking about their profit margins, start thinking about the health of their customers.

So, for a lot of companies the answer to that is what has become known as Greenwashing.

What Is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a form of spin in which a company’s PR, marketing and advertising will use to promote their product or brand as green or environmentally friendly, or as we are discussing, claim that their products are natural, organic or mineral, when in fact they are still packed with harsh and damaging chemicals.

These companies will spend more time and money claiming to be green or natural, then actually implementing business practices or designing products that actually are what they claim. It should be called brainwashing really or better yet, simply lying.

Why Do They Do This?

Well it’s very simply really. Money! Lots and lots of money. They make lots of money from the products they sell you and to adjust the products with ingredients that are less harmful would cost them a lot of money. Further the natural ingredients they would need to use to make a healthier alternative cost much more to manufacture on a mass scale. So, they don’t want to do that. Besides they have been getting away with it up until now, so why would they change anything? If it works, why change it, right?

How Do I Spot It?

So many companies do this well. So well in fact that most of us take one look at the packaging and wouldn’t even think twice about it being what it claims. Well it’s time to take off your rose- coloured glasses, because I hate to be the bearer of bad news but most first appearances are incorrect. There’s a good reason marketing companies cost a fortune.

Here are a few tips on what to look for so you don’t get greenwashed:

  1. The TRUTH: if a brand claims they are green, natural, organic, vegan or mineral take a closer look at the ingredients in the product and then the company as a whole. Can you easily find more information about their sustainable business practices on their website? Do they have comprehensive environmental story? Is there believable information to substantiate their claims?

If the ingredients list is full of a large number of long scientific unpronounceable names with the so called natural ones at the end, then it’s highly likely it’s not what they claim. Simply google some of the names and you’ll very quickly work out if they are natural or not.

  1. The whole truth: next, try googling the company name plus the work “environment” and see what pops up. If the company has anything shady in this regard it could show up. Especially better-known brands.
  2. And nothing but the truth: go with your gut. Stop and really think about what they claim. Does it ring true and authentic or is it a part of their marketing hype, pleasing the latest craze or expectation? Don’t be the robotic thoughtless consumer they count on you to be.

Why Is Greenwashing a Problem?

It seems like every cosmetic company now offers natural, organic or mineral products. Really?

Well ask yourself this, if all these traditional cosmetic companies really have concerns for their customers health and believe in the benefits of the ingredients of their “natural” products, why aren’t all their products natural?

So it must be a good thing that these companies are offering a natural, healthy option, right? Absolutely, it’s only a bad thing if it’s greenwashing. It’s bad for the environment, it’s bad for you as a consumer and it’s bad for other honest businesses.

The Environment: Greenwashing is bad for the environment because it encourages people to buy products en mass that are being manufactured by companies that are in-fact damaging to the environment or simply are making claims just to sell more product to make more money and are not adjusting their environmental impact at all.

The Consumer: Greenwashing is very bad for the consumer, firstly because you are being sold a product that is not what it claims to be. If you walked into McDonalds and ordered a cheeseburger and when you opened the wrapper the burger was simply the bun, with nothing else inside, no meat, no sauce, no onion. What would you do? Would you just shrug your shoulders and eat it, accepting that’s just how it is? Definitely not, I’m certain you would gather it up, march back to the counter and very unhappily let the operator know exactly how unacceptable it was. So why don’t we do this with our cosmetics?

Second, as a consumer you pay a lot of your hard-earned money to these companies for products that you believe are the best for you. Sometimes you even pay more for them because they are natural or organic. So why should you be allowing them to take your money for products that are not what they say they are?

Simply, greenwashing is misleading and it attempts to deceive us, making consumers think that a product offers something or provides something it doesn’t. That is dishonest and that is a huge problem.

The Honest Business: For a true natural, organic or vegan product to be certified as such, they go through a vigorous certification process, which is very long and expensive. How is it fair that these non-legitimate companies can gain the profits from false claims and not be held to the same vigorous standards?

If one company gets away with greenwashing, others will follow suit, therefore creating an industry-wide illusion of natural products, rather than actual natural and truly organic and mineral products. I believe this is how the industry stands right now. The percentage of true 100% natural, organic or mineral products is so low they are almost non-existent and the brands that are honest and true to their claims get swallow up in all the false hoods.

This also creates cynicism within the industry. When the false brands are not fulfilling their promises consumers become skeptical and the true brands suffer the same skepticism.

If healthy living is important to you and you make regular purchases of products that claim they are healthy, natural alternatives than its important that you hold those companies doing the wrong thing and cheating you out of your hard-earned cash, accountable. Make them be honest and fair.

Below is a list of brands or products who claim to be natural, organic or mineral; why don’t you spend a little bit of time checking out if their claims are true before you spend your money!

  • Else Mineral Makeup
  • Youngblood Cosmetics
  • Elizabeth Arden
  • Jane Iredale
  • M.A.C
  • Avon
  • Maybelline
  • L’Oréal