Beware of Greener Pastures
by Camille Lopez
While the road to wellness has been on the up-rise over recent years, the beauty industry has become oversaturated with ‘green and clean living’ that it has become difficult to differentiate what is actually good for us or not. The skincare industry specifically, consists of numerous brands that claim to contain organic ingredients which in turn, pique the interest of consumers. The term ‘organic’ refers to a product that is free of synthetic chemicals, artificial additives, and is environmentally safe, which is ultimately associated with being healthy. But how much of these claims are true? Let’s break it down.
The process to achieve a truly organic product is both complicated and expensive, and let’s face it – not all companies are capable of meeting these rigorous standards, nor are they willing to either. With this being said, it hasn’t stopped companies from claiming to be ‘organic’ in order to keep up with the demand and make their products seem more attractive. This is what we call ‘green-washing’.
It all comes down to marketing. The purpose of marketing is to promote a product in the most appealing way in order to attract consumers. This is typically done by highlighting the most important features/ingredients of the product regardless of how little of that ingredient is actually incorporated into the formula. For example, you come across an item in the organic aisle that claims to have organic lavender in it; you’re automatically drawn to it and believe that it is healthy and filled with this magical ingredient. Until you read the fine print. Oftentimes you’ll realize that there is only a minimal amount of that healthy ingredient, and the remaining components are a mix of non-organic, and often toxic ingredients. This is all it takes to be able to slap on an ‘organic’, ‘vegan’, ‘all-natural’, ‘pure’, ‘clean’ etc. label onto the packaging. To avoid purchasing green-washed products, it’s important to have a strong understanding of what ingredients are listed on the back of the packaging.
What you can look for, is a label that states that the product is “USDA Certified Organic”. This is a formal label that requires third-party verification and certification, and will help you differentiate a product that is simply marketed as organic, versus a product that is actually organic.
As a reminder, here are some ingredients to avoid:
- Parabens: Parabens have been linked to issues such as inflammation, fat storage, and reproductive hormone imbalances.
- Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids: These acids are chemical skin exfoliators that make your skin photosensitive. Using these acids prior to sun exposure can damage your skin and accelerate aging due to UV damage.
- Hydroquinone and benzophenone: These carcinogens are banned in Europe due to their toxicity. They are known irritants internally and externally, and can affect your eyes, skin and lungs, and can add to the toxic load in your liver and kidneys.
- Fragrance: Fragrances offer no benefits to the skin and can consist of up to 300 different synthetic chemicals in order to simply smell good.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are responsible for that ‘soft’ feeling skincare, acting as a lubricant and is one of the many ingredients contained in ‘fragrance’. Similar to parabens, phthalates are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to birth defects.
- PEGs: Polyethylene Glycol acts as a thickener in skincare and helps ingredients penetrate the skin more effectively. However, this synthetic chemical has been linked to toxicity once it has been absorbed through the skin and ultimately dries up the skin.
So, if there’s one thing you take from these three minutes of reading, it’s to pay close attention to the fine print on your skincare products – don’t be fooled by the fancy words on the label!
Happy skincare shopping, and let us achieve our best glowy skin together!