I recently became aware of a big upcoming event called the Natural Beauty Summit America. Their webpage says, “Take part of the fastest growing segment of the beauty market.” A market segment that is estimated to reach $5.8 billion in the US alone by 2016. The natural market segment.
My first thoughts, I’ll be honest were a little… um… cynical is not really the right word. Sorrowful maybe?
Yes, this is the fastest growing segment of the beauty market because – whether they are high maintenance or low maintenance – more and more people want truly natural products. But they are so often led astray by misleading claims and even blatantly false advertising. They think they are buying a truly natural product because the nice words on the big front label say ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ or some other equally meaningless, unregulated buzz word. They often don’t bother to look at the ingredient label on the back. They just trust the advertising images or claims…
Sometimes this is subtle. A company may be 100% honest and yet still – intentionally or unintentionally – be misleading people. For example, if a company says very clearly in its marketing literature that they use science and nature combined (side note – ‘science’ here usually means man-made synthetic chemical ingredients), but then has a website or catalog full of plant images, customers will still come away with a strong sense that they are buying a truly natural product.
Case in point: Before my personal discovery of truly organic products that work well and stay fresh without the synthetic chemicals, I used and worked with a semi-natural line that I believed to be better than most conventional products out there (I had not yet become aware of all that I know now regarding the toxicity of some of their ingredients). I always stressed very clearly to my clients that the line was NOT all-natural, yet still, some people would develop a wrong impression because of the catalog images (over which I had no control).
In reality, nowadays, with the trends in natural beauty products – remember, the fastest growing segment of the entire beauty market? – these sorts of ‘semi-natural’ products are the new norm. Dime a dozen almost.
But a truly natural, truly organic product that doesn’t go funky halfway through the bottle, still has a good shelf life, and actually works? That’s tricky.
So, when I first saw this site advertising the Natural Beauty Summit, I also thought, “I wonder how many of these companies are just greenwashers like so many others?”
For example, companies that say their products are natural or organic when in fact they still contain toxic ingredients.
Or, companies that develop truly organic products to stock on store shelves right along side their conventional toxic products… They clearly just want a piece of that growing market demand for natural products; they are not actually founded on and committed to natural and sustainable living principles at their core.
Whatever the case, they are everywhere. Walk up and down the store aisles and read some ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product labels. Can you pronounce that ingredient?
Google search online for natural products… The greenwashing is everywhere and endless.
Here is one example of a blatantly false claim I recently found. I won’t mention brand names because I don’t like to ever slam anyone, but really now, come on…
This facial scrub is introduced to the reader as containing “only natural and herbal ingredients and is safe for both mother-to-be and fetus.”
But here is the ingredient list openly displayed right below that intro. (I at least give them kudos for putting the list there!)
- Purified Water
- Glyceryl Stearate
- Ethylhexyl Palmitate
- Butylene Glycol
- Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
- Sodium Cocoyl Methyl Taurate
- PEG-100 Stearate
- Myristyl Myristate
- Tridecyl Stearate
- Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate
- Tridecyl Trimellitate
- Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer
- DMDM Hydantoin
- Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
OK, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that most of those ingredients are not natural or herbal. Most? Unless my eyes deceive me, how about all but the water?! Yikes! And if you really dig into these ingredients, you will see that some are downright dangerous for people and/or the planet.
(Note – If you want more details on these ingredients, sign up for my newsletter for a free, downloadable “Toxic Test” resource list (over 50 ingredients to avoid and why) or contact me about doing a label reading workshop for you and a group of people who also care about avoiding hidden toxins (note – there are no sales at a workshop, it is strictly generic educational info and can be held in person or online via webinar).
But contrast it with the ingredient list for a truly natural facial scrub (Miessence’s Garnet Exfoliant).
certified organic aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice
alluvial almandite garnet
sclerotium rolfsii gum
citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) fruit extract
certified organic citrus limonum (lemon) essential oil
certified organic citrus bergamia (bergamot) essential oil
certified organic citrus dulcis (sweet orange) essential oil
What a difference!
At any rate, back to the Natural Beauty Summit.
So, at first glance I was skeptical and a bit saddened by the madness of all the probable greenwashing. The marketing noise is so loud out there, that it’s sometimes hard to hear the small but mighty and growing voices demanding truly organic and sustainable products. It’s sometimes hard to hear my own voice. But it’s getting louder and clearer as more people join in the chorus.
As I dug deeper into the website for the summit event, I noticed that it looks like the organizers want to address many of these issues.
From their site…
12 Reasons to attend The Natural Beauty Summit
1) Identify the opportunities in the natural & organic cosmetics market
2) Achieve an in-depth understanding of natural & organic cosmetic standards
3) Gain an understanding of ethical sourcing & ingredient issues
4) Learn what to avoid when developing and marketing natural & organic products
5) Overcome the technical issues when formulating natural cosmetics
6) Gain insight into the regulatory environment for Europe and the US
7) Gain a better understanding of corporate social responsibility and ethical business practices
8.) Learn how to use food & novel ingredients in cosmetic products
9) Discover the innovative and provocative trends in sustainability
10) Update your knowledge in natural technologies
11) Get practical insight from marketing, R&D and retailing success stories
12) Learn about sustainable best-practices in the cosmetics industry
This all sounds very hopeful. It sounds like the event has huge potential to create more momentum for change as various stakeholders come together to evaluate the past, present, and future of the natural products market segment.
Let’s hope they all commit to stop greenwashing and move in the direction of honest and clear marketing with regard to what’s in the products they provide.