What is 'Greenwashing'?

As far back as 2008, the term ‘Greenwashing’ was recognised as a less than honest marketing tool to convince consumers to buy into an idea or product.

Pretty images can be misleading

Hoffman and Hoffman published a book called Green: Your Place in the New Energy Revolution, where they identified issues surrounding our ideas about renewable energy, and how these can be manipulated:

“Greenwashing is what happens when a hopeful public eager to behave responsibly about the environment is presented with “evidence” that makes an industry… seem friendly to the environment when, in fact, the industry… is not as wholly amicable as it…might be 4.”    

Since then, we have become more concerned about our stewardship of the environment and our own (and our families’) health, and many of us are trying to minimise any harmful effects arising from our modern living habits. From wanting to know how our food is grown (or raised), to how we can minimise waste and make appropriate choices in our shopping.

It makes sense that we extend this concern to what we put on our skin, the largest organ of our body.

According the Soil Association, “Greenwashing is rife in the health and beauty industry5.” 

There was so much concern about how we are being misled by the labelling of cosmetic and skincare products that the Soil Association carried out research with an independent researcher. The aims were to investigate the ingredients used in a sample of health and beauty products that claimed to be organic, but were not independently certified.

The international Cosmetic Organic Standard (COSMOS)6 was used as a benchmark to identify any ingredients that are not permitted in a certified organic product and to identify if the products contained any of the “Terrible Ten” ingredients, which are considered to be potentially most harmful to human health and the environment.

The "Terrible Ten"

As part of the Soil Association Campaign for Clarity – Come Clean About Beauty, findings from the report were published on their website, together with a ‘name and shame’ list of products that contained either any ingredients that are not permitted in a certified organic product, or any of the “Terrible Ten” ingredients5.

1. Ethyl hexylsalicylate
2. Homosalate
3. Imidazolidinyl urea
4. Octinoxate
5. Octocrylene
6. PEGs: PEG-7; PEG-12; PEG-40; PEG-200
7. Polyquaternium 7
8. Polysorbate 20
9. Red 17 artificial colour 26100
10. Retinyl palmitate

If you would like to learn more about these ingredients, follow this link to the Soil Association Campaign for Clarity-come clean about beauty>

You can be assured that none of our products at Purely Skincare contain any of the ‘Terrible Ten’ ingredients, nor any ingredients that are not permitted under the stringent COSMOS standards.

All our organic ingredients are certified by the Soil Association (COSMOS), and our natural ingredients are truly natural, certified as such where they can be.

If you would like to read the full report, you can find it here >
You can follow the campaign on twitter #campaign4clarity

As part of the Campaign for Clarity - Come Clean About Beauty, the Soil Association carried out an independent consumer study and found that there is:

“…..a direct link between what is on the pack and what people say they think about a product. It is clear from the results of this survey that the use of the word organic on the label has a positive effect on what people think about the whole of the product – with most consumers saying they would assume an organic product was sustainably made and that they were doing the right thing for the environment by choosing it.”

This shows that we are strongly influenced by the information on the label and can easily be misled by the claims made. Unfortunately, there are currently no legal standards to which cosmetics and skincare products must adhere to. This means that a manufacturer of any beauty product can use the terms ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ on the label, even if the product actually contains little organic or natural ingredients.