Nowadays a lot of people think that “natural” or “green” or “organic” skincare products are better for them than “regular” skincare products. But these terms are pretty meaningless. “Natural” and “green” are label terms that are not regulated by any government or non-government body. The only label term that has any real meaning is “organic”. In an earlier post I already addressed the issue of parabens in skincare and cosmetic products, but I’ve also been thinking for quite some time about how I wanted to address the issue of organic, natural, and green skincare products in my blog since it is very common to see the issue brought up in all sorts of media (magazines, TV, etc.) and you hear people discussing the terms as well.
Lucky for me Skin Inc. published a two-part article series about just these issues. The first article in the series addresses many important issues when it comes to “natural”, “organic”, and “green” products. For example the article points out that there is no global definition for the term “green” in skincare and cosmetic products. In addition, the article points out that marketing professionals are savvy enough to know how to play on people’s fears of parabens even if there is little real evidence to suggest that parabens cause cancer. Another important point the article makes is to explain the idea of “greenwashing”. This is when words such as “organic”, “natural”, or “botanical” are used in an effort to make the product you are buying seem better for you and the enviroment. In reality you are probably buying a product that as a very low concentration, too low of a concentration to do anything, of these “green” ingredients. Furthermore, while a product may have some organic ingredients it also has chemical ingredients in its composition, but this information is purposely left off the advertising and label claims.
The second article in the series goes into greater detail about just what “organic” means on a skincare or cosmetic product label. Things are not as straight forward as you would imagine. Companies still have a lot of room to legally play around with the term “organic” so while a consumer may think they are buying a product that is both better for them and the environment that is not really the case.
The bottom line is you can’t believe the hype and you need to educate yourself about ingredients before buying products.
Click on the links below to read the articles mentioned in this post:
- Natural vs. Organic by Carl Thornfeldt, MD Skin Inc. February 2009 (a good introduction to the above mentioned issues)
- Deciphering Organic, Part I by Leslie Lyon and Marilyn Patterson, Skin Inc. February 2010
- Deciphering Organic, Part II by Leslie Lyon and Marilyn Patterson, Skin Inc. March 2010
Even more reading: Are Organic Products Better for Your Skin? – blog post by Dr. Leslie Baumann