Article by: Perry Romanowski

According to this article on Cosmetics Design, greenwashing is going to get a lot harder in the natural cosmetic segment and integrity is of upmost importance. I have to respectfully disagree. Here are 5 reasons that companies will continue to greenwash for a long time.

True natural consumers are still a small market segment

While the natural cosmetic market is a growing one it still represents only about 10-15% of the total cosmetic industry. So the biggest manufacturers won’t significantly change their best selling formulas just to get a piece of this smaller market. They will however, add an extract here and there to capture a portion of that market. Greenwashing at its best.

All-natural cosmetics do not work as well

It’s just a fact, when you restrict the palette of ingredients you can use to create your formulations, you are at a disadvantage against cosmetic formulators who don’t have those restrictions. Sure, you can make products that work, they just won’t work as well as the standard cosmetic products. And when it comes to what cosmetics consumers buy, there is no question. Consumers buy products that work. They might say they want all natural or green beauty products but this is secondary to their desire to have products that work.

Consumers don’t know the difference

Another factor that keeps greenwashing around is that consumers do not understand (or care) about the difference between greenwashed products and truly all-natural products. Unless a consumer has a degree in chemistry or otherwise has some insider knowledge about cosmetics, they will not know whether a product is greenwashed or not. They may learn what is greenwashed by reading something on the Internet but this will not be the majority of cosmetics. As long as the label looks like an all-natural product, most consumers will believe it.

Greenwashing keeps costs down

Cosmetic companies are in the business of making money. They may have secondary goals of sustainability or helping the planet but when it comes down to it Burts Bees is just as interested in making money as Proctor and Gamble. And there is no question that a greenwashed cosmetic costs less than an all-naturally formulated cosmetic. As long as profit is a motivation, greenwashed cosmetics will continue to be made.

There are no required standards

Finally, the fact that there are no official government standards for cosmetic product means that any company can pretty much make any product and call it natural. Maybe they can’t put a special organic seal or certified label but that doesn’t matter to most of the cosmetic buying consumers. Until there are governmental standards that everyone in the industry has to follow, there will be greenwashing.

But the bottom line reason why greenwashing will continue…It works (at least for now). And until sales of products that claim natural and organic without actually having to be, companies will continue to make those products.

If creating real natural formulas that are not greenwashed is of interest to you, be sure to check out our Formulating Naturals Cosmetics course.



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    “I am sure the customers adoration to “all-natural” is result of above mentioned propaganda and the base of it — economic interests of someone…”

    It’s a â„¢ thing Vitaly. Totally Meaningless. Doesn’t help matters much with Innovadex is going the same route either.

    The DIY realm is far worse for this sort of garbage.

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    I mean consumer not customer..:)

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    Totally agree as well, just want to point out one thing.

    There is a big difference regarding the possibility of creating all-natural products in different fields of cosmetics.
    To make an all-natural hand soap is relatively easy whilst making a permanent all-natural hair color (comparable with oxidative haircolors), is practically impossible. It is hard for the customer to get an insight in these differences. A customer can avoid a shampoo containing traces of parabenes and the same day use hair color containing for example p-phenylenediamine….

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    The Great article! I totally agree with you, Perry. Everytime I read about “natural” or “all-natural” products and the high demand to it from the side of the consumers, I can’t help thinking that consumers themselves don’t know what they want exactly till the moment when someone creates the demand for something. Another words – when the companies, associations etc. begin to create the need ( sometime very severe necessity) to get the “right” product which should be sold out. I’m sure everything the consumers want to get – they want only because their needs have been created by someone else. Creating the demand – would be very interesting theme to discuss, especially among cosmetic chemists and all people related to the creation of the cosmetic products.
    I am sure the customers adoration to “all-natural” is result of above mentioned propaganda and the base of it – economic interests of someone…

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