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 I have definitely been   and I had no clue. I’m sure it’s happened to you too. Let me set the scene- you walk into the supermarket, drugstore or my personal favorite, Super Target, and look for something labeled “natural” maybe a face cream, body lotion, maybe its even makeup. Natural is quite a hot buzz word right now and with more people being eco-conscious, every brand wants to jump on the wagon and appeal to consumers who want to be healthy.

You find an appealing product that boasts NATURAL! or  MADE WITH ANTI-OXIDANTS! or with ARGAN OIL! and you get excited by the green label or  picture of a green plant or flower. You pay between five and twelve dollars for this product and look forwarding to using it, you might even be proud that you are using something from nature, after all there’s nothing better than what Mother Nature has created, right?

Later you either decide to read the ingredients or a friend mentions something, perhaps you read an article about dirty ingredients in “clean” products and you question your purchase. You then find out that your “green”  product is far from natural containing Synthetic dyes and other offensive toxins like pthalates.

My friend, you’ve been green washed.

The clearest description of this label comes from wikipedia: {Greenwashing } is often portrayed by changing the name or label of a product to evoke the natural environment or nature—for example, putting an image of a forest on a bottle containing harmful chemicals.

Products that contain synthetics and toxins can disguise themselves as plant based, saying ingredients are harvested from botanicals or herbs or something sounding lovely and natural. You can drive yourself crazy reading scientific reports and trying to understand chemicals and terminology. I have found a lot of contradicting information about some natural beauty brands and I was left more confused then ever.

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I found a helpful list of common marketing terms that could easily mislead you into buying a product that is not truly natural.  Thanks to some clever wordsmiths, these do sound pretty convincing don’t they?

  • Made with organic essential oils
  • Contains organic ingredients
  • Made with nontoxic ingredients
  • 100 percent natural
  • Essentially nontoxic
  • Earth-friendly
  • Environmentally safer
  • Hypoallergenic/Dermatologist Tested/Allergy Tested/Non-Irritating
  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-Free

{source}

But here’s where we can discover the truth…Ingredients that boast “plant derived!”  may have been grown with chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. The term vegan doesn’t mean that harsh chemicals aren’t used, it simply means that no animal product has been including in the making of the product.
And this confused me but I’m clear now- Cruelty Free means no animal testing, it doesn’t equate with non-toxic or organic. A Cruelty Free, Vegan  product can still have Propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol in it.
Organic ingredients are excellent, but not every ingredient in a product will be certified organic. A beauty product can have one organic ingredient in it and advertise “organic!” but also contain a cocktail of several other toxins! “But it says organic!” you might exclaim. “It must be good for me!” Not if its also made with methylparabens, petroleum jelly, or isopropyl alcohol!
Natural, from nature, naturally derived, contains botanicals, earth friendly, dermatologist tested are pretty meaningless when the FDA doesn’t regulate cosmetics and companies are free to use any wording they choose, true or not. Allergy free? Well that just depends on what kind of allergies you have doesn’t it? And perfumes and colognes aren’t even required to list ingredients on their labels.
It really maddens me to think that I have, in the past, fallen prey to these marketing scams!
For really, truly clean cosmetics and skincare, look for these labels as seen on Zen Society:
labels
Get used to reading your ingredient list, regardless of what the label proclaims. Remember this:
 

fancy words and green fonts mean nothing

Dig around a bit and find the truth. And don’t let yourself be greenwashed again.

For more reading, check out this article!