What comes to your mind when you hear the word “natural”?
Clean? Green? Organic?
Many companies use these buzzwords to attract consumers, especially now that people are more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies. But do they really mean what they say?
Welcome to the world of Greenwashing, where companies mislead consumers by claiming that their products are safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly, and natural, when in reality, they are NOT.
Let’s look at some of the words that you should take a second look at:
Hate to break it to you, but natural means nothing. The term isn’t regulated in any way. If an ingredient comes from a natural source, but needs to be chemically modified to make it work, is it still natural? Some believe that atleast 5% of natural ingredients are enough for a product to be labelled natural. Others believe that man-made/synthetic ingredients must be absent for it to be considered natural. Many believe that natural is “safer” and “non-toxic”. However, that may not always be the case, for example, there are some essential oils which can lead to irritation and allergies.
While there are strict definitions of what constitutes organic, the primary focus is on how it is grown, ensuring it was created without the use of synthetic preservatives or pesticides. However, organic certification only tells us the source of an ingredient – not whether it’s safe for the skin, or if it truly possesses the benefits it claims to provide. Even if a product guarantees that its ingredients are natural and organic, there is still no guarantee on its safety. For a product to be considered ‘organic’, 95% of its ingredients must be certified. For a product to be considered organically derived, the product needs at least 70% organic ingredients. And who knows what the other ingredients would be?
Since there is no binding definition of what a ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ product is, we are essentially relying on the company to be honest. PETA provides a list of ingredients and companies to avoid that are non-vegan, but it can be difficult to determine whether the manufacturer uses animal-derived agents that don’t appear in the final product.
This means that the product and its ingredients were not tested on animals at any stage during their development. But while not tested on animals, they may still contain animal ingredients or by-products. For example, a moisturizer may be cruelty-free but contains beeswax and is therefore not vegan. And a vegan shampoo that is free of animal ingredients or by-products may at some point have been tested on animals and is thus not cruelty-free.
Ayurveda (Sanskrit for ‘life-knowledge’) is a medicinal science that uses herbs and heavy metals like gold, silver, copper, tin, mercury, etc. But are they completely natural? Even if they are, Ayurveda products may contain toxic levels of metals that are harmful for your skin.
Preservatives are added into ingredients for two reasons:
- to limit bacterial growth
- to enhance the shelf-life of our products
However, just because it’s preservative-free does not mean it is natural, and therefore less toxic or harmful. Would you really want to put germ-contaminated products on your face?