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Greenwashing

It’s a term you might have heard of.

Companies know that people like you and me will pay more for a superior product. The same as been true for donkeys years. But these days and for our demographic (the wellness warriors) the term "superior" has a new meaning. We no longer want the shiniest, wankiest, most famous, fanciest product (well, not always). We want the product that is the best for our health. Because our demographic knows that health is the true wealth.

The companies know it too. And they're exploiting us.

I've seen a few examples of greenwashing first hand lately and have been really disappointed to discover that the (expensive!) products I've been trusting to do right by me have in fact been lying to my face.

Now, let me point out before I begin that the point of this article is not to name and shame the companies and products involved. Bad-mouthing people never got anyone anywhere. The point of this article is to bring your attention to the importance of always reading the label (the back as well as the front) and investigating the ingredients of the products you're purchasing so that you can make an informed choice. The claims on the front of the label aren't necessarily entirely true and there are sneaky ways of designing labels to make you think they're "natural", "organic" and "good" for you.

Take the example of a well-known Pawpaw Ointment.

I used it for years to keep my lips soft and supple, I rubbed it on dry flaky patches of skin, heck I even used it on my babies' bottoms thinking it was clean and natural for their precious skin.

The packaging claims "Carica Papaya 39mg/g Fresh Fermented Fruit. Great. It's made of fruit. Right? Turn the tube over and it states "Contains Potassium Sorbate 0.1 mg/g as Preservative". Oh, well that's only 0.1mg/g, that's not a lot right? It's still a healthy fruit-based product… isn't it?

It wasn't until I saw something on social media about this product that I went to their website to verify exactly what it was I'd been using for all these years. Yes, it contains 39mg/g of fermented fruit. That's 3.9%. The other 96.1% is Petroleum Jelly and Wax. Petroleum Jelly. Petroleum Jelly. A jelly made from petrol. Potential effects of petroleum jelly are allergic skin reactions, skin discolouration and may contain cancer causing contaminants polycyclic aromatics.

To be fair, the website does state that "It is a pharmaceutical grade base that is tested and screened for the level of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Penreco USP grade Petrolatums are not mutagenic or toxic to reproduction." But I know that I would rather avoid it all-together, and more importantly, I never would have bought this product, EVER, had I known it contained petroleum jelly.

That's Greenwashing.
The other example I came across recently is a body wash that I found in a friends shower when I stayed at their holiday home.

The label looked Good. It looked real Good. Actually it looked Only Good. It claimed to be 100% natural, palm free, cruelty free and with no sulphates or parabens. Ticks all the boxes, right? On a busy supermarket shop you'd throw that in your trolley in a heartbeat.

So of course, I read on… First ingredient, Water. Shit, this washing water is expensive. Second ingredient, Sodium Coco Sulphate (Derived from Coconut). Ohhhhkaaaaay, what IS that? The word Sulphate sounds a lot like the word Sulphate to me, you know the one the front of the package said it didn't have any of. But it's derived from Coconut so maybe it's okay? A quick google search reveals the following information:

"The process for making sodium coco sulphate is the same as for sodium lauryl sulfate except now rather than isolate a single fatty acid from the coconut oil (lauric acid for sodium lauryl sulphate) a broad cut of saturated fatty acids is used (C12 – C18 saturated fatty acids) and these are all turned into sulfates."

So… let's recap. The product that states proudly that it contains no sulphates, lists a suplhate as it's main ingredient aside from water.

That’s not just greenwashing, that’s lying.

So is Sodium Coco Sulphate safer than Sodium Lauryl Sulphate? You can read more about that here. (And btw, sulphates and sulfates are exactly the same, just different spelling).

In the meanwhile, I know that I would rather use products that contain simple, unprocessed ingredients.

My philosophy with food is to keep it as real and as close to nature as possible – that "diet chocolate pudding mix" on the supermarket shelf is considered safe to eat and therefore saleable, but I know it's a chemical shit-storm and about as far from "real food" as you can get, so I tend to avoid it. The same applies to skincare. If I don't know what an ingredient is, or how to pronounce it… I avoid it.

At Honest Skincare, every single ingredient we use is a natural, edible product and organic wherever possible.

There are no fillers, preservatives, binders or other fluff. This means it's truly good for you, for your skin and for the environment at both ends of the spectrum – in growing and processing the ingredients, and after you rinse it down the drain (well, the scrub anyway).

We hand-make every product with love (this will never change), we package in glass because it's reusable and doesn't leach BPA's and we don't stock shelves because that would mean we'd need to start talking preservatives and temperature protectors.

If you have any questions, do feel free to contact us - we'd love to shoot the shit with you. Until then remember, if you wouldn't eat it, please don't put it on your skin!

Tonia x
Honest Skincare Founder