Green washing with supposedly natural cosmetics | - Guide

Status: 03.09.2021 11:16 am

Increasingly, manufacturers of care products are promoting their ingredients to be natural and ecological. But the sustainable promises on the packaging aren’t always kept.

By Saskia Engels and Annek Muller

Sustainability is common. Many manufacturers know this and deliberately give their skin and hair care products a “natural finish”. They use green packaging or advertise with “natural ingredients,” “natural extracts,” “bio,” or “microplastics free.” In professional circles, this type of product advertising is known as greenwashing. Manufacturers are increasingly focusing on a sustainable image, especially for washable products like shower gel or hair shampoo. But not everything that appears green is truly natural. Many products still contain artificial ingredients. These can weaken the skin barrier and make it more susceptible to harmful substances, have a hormonal effect, or in the worst case, may be carcinogenic.

Natural cosmetics are not a protected term

Ingredients such as flowers, leaves, and plant extracts do not automatically make body care products an authentic natural product. Because the term natural cosmetics is not protected by law. Chemicals are often used in “natural” gels, creams, or lotions. Consumers can learn about certified natural cosmetics by seals such as Natrue, EcoCert or Cosmos (BDIH).

Tricks with natural cosmetics

  • For example, some manufacturers advertise ingredients such as olive oil, milk or pomegranate on the packaging, even though they contain only traces of them.
  • Some manufacturers advertise the use of self-made seals. This can give consumers the impression that they are certified natural cosmetics.
  • An advertisement like “95 percent of the ingredients are of natural origin” is not very meaningful: the water content of the product is included in this calculation. Depending on the type of product, this can be as high as 90 percent.
  • Some manufacturers write what is not included, eg “No Parabens”, “No Mineral Oils” and “No Preservatives”. However, there are very few products that work without chemicals. Manufacturers often use less well-known ingredients that have the same effect – but are less deterrent to consumers than the well-known names of substances.
  • Instead of traditional preservatives, alternatives such as caprylyl glycol and ethylhexylglycerin are often used. It has a protective effect, but it does not need to be declared as a preservative.
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Natural cosmetics: seals in comparison

Manufacturers in Germany most often use the Natrue and Cosmos (BDIH) seals for natural cosmetics:

who – which Natro Siegel Developed by manufacturers of natural cosmetics to stand out from products that contain only oils and plant extracts. Natrue Certified Cosmetics must not contain any mineral oils, silicones, artificial fragrances, or preservatives such as parabens. Additionally, the seal may only identify products that have been manufactured without animal testing. Raw materials from dead vertebrates, such as mink oil, are prohibited.

Extension Products BDIH ختم stamp. The acronym stands for the Federal Association of Industrial and Commercial Companies for Pharmaceuticals, Health Products, Dietary Supplements, and Cosmetics. Since 2017, the seal has been named “Cosmos Natural” or “Cosmos Organic” and identifies natural cosmetics in terms of organic quality. BDIH has developed international seal standards with the European Natural Cosmetics Ecocert, Cosmebio, ICEA and Soil Association seals:

  • Vegetable raw materials must come from organic farming and must not be genetically modified.
  • Animal experiments and raw materials from dead vertebrates are not permitted.
  • Synthetic chemicals such as paraffins, petroleum products, silicones, synthetic fragrances, or synthetic organic light protection filters should not be processed.
  • There are restrictions on preservatives.

Natural cosmetics that contain ingredients that cause allergic reactions

However, the fact that natural cosmetics do not contain artificial ingredients does not mean that they can be better tolerated. It can also cause allergic reactions. Especially when it comes to perfumes, people with sensitive skin should consider carefully. The tricky thing: Sometimes perfumes are hard to identify because they are only advertised as a fragrance on the packaging. However, there are substances such as geraniol or lime that have been classified as hypersensitive by the European Union Commission. These should appear on the package at a concentration of 0.01 percent.

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Detect malicious components via the application

Consumers can also use to determine if a care product contains allergenic chemical ingredients or fragrances Code Check Free Smartphone App Discover. Simply take a picture of the product’s barcode using the app. The composition of the ingredients and a description of potential health risks appear immediately on the screen. BUND Germany is also developing an app that detects harmful substances in care products. So far, ToxFox mainly offers Information about hormonal pollutants.

Additional information

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This topic is in the program:

tricks | 06/09/2021 | 9:00 pm.

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