The rise of popularity for natural products is rapidly growing but just what is it exactly that we are purchasing when we see the word ‘all-natural' or 'naturally-derived'?
The words ‘plant-derived’ or ‘naturally-derived’ mean that the ingredient started as a whole plant. However, it doesn’t actually account for how the ingredient is processed before it reaches the final form. In many cases, the final product has been so chemically altered that it no longer resembles the original plant at all. This is undeniably one of the most common forms of greenwashing in the beauty industry. Consumers are usually encouraged to believe they are getting a natural product when it may be closer to, or even completely synthetic.
For example, even though an ingredient’s name may look natural, it might have been heavily chemically processed with other substances to create its naturally-sounding name.
Take Jojoba Oil for example. Normally, Jojoba seeds contain 50% Jojoba Oil by weight. They are so loaded with oil, that manufacturers can cold press them to produce the oil. However, there is still oil leftover in the seed pulp after those first cold press and the manufacturers want to use that oil for down-market “natural” products. By mixing in the chemical extracts, including toxic ones like hexane, benzene, and petroleum, it can react with the remaining jojoba pulp to produce lower grades of jojoba oil. This can lead to contamination remains in the ingredient, which is never mentioned on the ingredient list.
So what makes the all-natural and naturally derived skincare products different?
All-natural skincare is composed of raw ingredients only without buffering or changing the molecular structure, to be truly natural it would be the raw product that you could then use directly on your skin for healing purposes.
Here's how to avoid greenwashing
Here are 3 simple ways you can avoid being misled by greenwashing for your beauty products:
- The first thing you should do is to check the ingredient list. Basically, you should avoid questionable ingredients like parabens, mineral oil, perfume, parfum, or fragrance. If in doubt, you can always refer to any cosmetics database to learn the toxic rating of any ingredients you are unsure about.
- Look for additional language like 'free of parabens, synthetics, talc, SLS and petrochemicals' The more specific a company is, the more likely it will be authentic.
- Look for organic certifications A further step to be sure you are getting a natural product is to look for a certification seal. However, there are no industry regulations. So there's no way to stop a company from marketing its products as ‘natural’ and ‘organic', even though the product might actually be far from it.
Now, you can see why the words ‘plant derived’ or ‘naturally derived’ can be misleading. On the other hand, look for specific terminology and familiarise yourself with the ingredients to avoid. This can give you the best chance of avoiding this most popular form of greenwashing and shop for authentic natural and organic skincare.
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