The cosmetic industry is filled with lies and deceit. Today we are going to uncover the dirty side of green- Greenwashing.

What is Greenwashing?

The definition of Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound or their products are considered “clean”. There are two different types of Greenwashing: environmental and cosmetic. Environmental Greenwashing is where a company claims to use sustainable products and/or they are Eco-friendly when in fact they are not. This form of Greenwashing is actually illegal in the United States. Cosmetic Greenwashing is where companies will use buzz words like “natural”, “organic”, “chemical free”, etc. when they actually are none of the above. This form of Greenwashing is LEGAL. This goes back to the last law that was passed in the United States in 1938 (that’s 82 years!!) which stripped the FDA of any form of oversight when it came to the cosmetic industry. This means that it is legal for companies to directly mislead their consumers.

How to watch for Greenwashing as a consumer.

As a busy mom of 2 little kids, I understand the desire to get in a store and get out quickly while I have some sanity left! I go over to the personal care section and I quickly glance at the products. I spot a lotion that uses the terms “organic” and “chemical free”. It looks legitimate because the packaging is appealing. I put it in my cart without checking the ingredients. Come to find out, this product is loaded with toxic chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, known carcinogens, immunosuppressants, linked to birth defects and infertility!

Company’s are smart. They know that we are too busy to check the back of a label. They place these buzz words on the front of their packaging in a way that will appeal to you in order to get you to buy. They know that you are trying to be health conscious and they will take advantage of you.

The term “all natural” is deceiving. Poison Ivy is all natural but it isn’t something I would want to be rubbing all over my body, kwim?

When you see something labeled “chemical free” do.not.purchase it! If something simply exists, it is made from “chemicals”. Water is a chemical. Air is a chemical. You are made of chemicals! Repeat after me- not all chemicals are bad! What you need to look into is how particular chemicals affect the human body.

Another tricky marketing ploy is “not tested on animals”. It is a great thing that the product is not tested on animals and this will no doubt appeal to your moral and ethics and make you feel good about buying. They know this. Just because it was not tested on animals does it mean that it is a clean, non-toxic product! Side note- If this is something that means a lot to you, make sure to check and see if your products are Leaping Bunny Certified. This is an extremely difficult certification to receive and it will absolutely guarantee that those products were not tested on animals.

But I am safe if my dermatologist recommends it.

 WRONG. Just like traditional doctors, dermatologists may not be versed in Greenwashing and the harmful affects that toxic chemicals have on the body. Things to watch for with a dermatologist: are they paid to endorse a product? How well versed are they on non-toxic products?

How to find a clean product

The first thing I always tell people, is to make sure you learn the buzz words to watch for and educate yourself on what you are looking for in the ingredients. Education is priceless when it comes to your health. The second thing I always tell people to look into are brands that are 100% transparent about their ingredients and their testing process. You are going to want a brand that has identified all harmful chemicals and not only vowed to remove them but is constantly having their products third party tested to ensure that they are clean. Another great resource is the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Their skin-deep guide is a great way to search products and brands. Your products should fall between a 1-3 in order to be considered “clean”. Even better are the products that are EWG verified!

Companies that I trust

It can seem like an overwhelming process to learn all the ingredients and do the research on finding transparent companies. My favorite company for personal care and make up is Beautycounter. They have amazing products for everyone in the family and their ‘Never List’ of 1800 ingredients mixed with their transparency is what sold me. Another brand that we use frequently is Everyone.


Have you ever fallen victim to “Greenwashing”? Let me know in the comments!





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You can read more about my favorite mineral sunscreens here.