Unlike the food you eat, there is a lack of organic regulations for cosmetics, and in some cases due to the complexity of calculating 'organic' in beauty products, there has been a proliferation of new brands that exaggerate their organic status. Some contain very few organic ingredients at all, and others also contain quite a few synthetic ingredients that no green consumer would expect or want!
So how can you tell if you are being 'greenwashed'?
Sadly, often you cannot tell from reading the marketing claims. To get to the truth take a good look at the ingredients listing on the packaging - does the company indicate exactly which of the ingredients are organic? If so - how many organic ingredients are there - and where do they appear in the list? Cosmetics ingredients are listed in order of quantity so the ingredients that make up the bulk of the formulation are listed first.
We often see examples of products such as "Organic Lavender Body Cream" - where the one and only organic ingredient is organic lavender oil - and it's likely that this is less than 1% of the total. Other claims may mention "Active Organic Ingredients" as if there was some mysterious distinction between active and non-active ingredients in a product. Of course it's absolute nonsense when companies claim to be "chemical-free" - everything is made from chemicals - preservatives, plants, people and the universe!
To avoid being greenwashed, choose products that have independent organic certification (Soil Association, USDA, etc) or choose companies that clearly identify their certified organic ingredients and sourcing policies.
Neal’s Yard Remedies has a long history of using certified organic ingredients as well as making almost all of our certified organic products in our own eco-factory in Dorset in the UK. We always label the organic ingredients on our products, and of course - we give you the little green box.