We've been thinking about Greenwashing - can it be extended to health & beauty products too?

Perhaps rather belatedly, we learned of the term “Greenwashing” this week. Wikipedia defines this as “… a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.” which you can see here.

We believe everyone is familiar with the concept, but we think this term, or an adaptation of it, could be extended to refer to those products which use PR or green marketing to (possibly) deceptively promote the perception that their products are healthy.

We saw two products recently which could be considered as good examples of this. One is Radox shower gels which you can see here. These have the quite “clever” strap line of “100% nature inspired fragrance”. What does this really mean ? They don’t show their ingredients on their website so we’ll have to find a product in a supermarket to check, but we strongly suspect that their chemists have been "inspired" by the fragrance of, let’s say, red apple, and then they’ve artificially created it with synthetic and cheap chemicals for their product. Just a suspicion !

Another example could be Aveeno. Now you can’t blame them for trying to maximise profits as they must have given Jennifer Anniston an absolute fortune to endorse their products around the world, but that doesn’t detract from the honesty of what’s offered (this is just an example, we think there’s lots of other brands doing the same thing).

We looked at their Daily Moisturising Lotion which you can see here. (incidentally, Liz Earle must be a bit miffed; Aveeno is “Active Naturals” and Liz Earle is “Naturally Active”, but then again we understand Liz Earle is now owned by multinational industrial conglomerate Proctor & Gamble, so we guess they’re all part of the same club !).

For this product we have lots of good images of natural oats, pulses and green coloured branding. All very healthy looking and of course Jennifer is as radiant as ever !

Take a look at the ingredients though. Ingredients have to be listed in the order of proportionality in the product. The greater the volume (or weight) of an ingredient as a proportion of the total, the higher up the list it has appear. For Aveeno, as soon as we’re past the water and glycerine we’re into Distearyldimonium Chloride, a synthetic moisturiser and smoother (see here), then Isopropyl Palmitate an ester of isopropyl alcohol and palmitic acid which is also used for its smoothing properties (see here), then we have a petroleum and it’s not until we get to the eighth ingredient that we see oats. After that we back into more paraffins and alcohols.

The closest product that Handmade Naturals offers to this is our Unscented Hand & Body Lotion and a closest match to the Radox shower gel is probably our Frangipani & Grapefruit Shower & Bath Gel. Compare the two respective ingredients lists and we think you’ll see the difference and what we mean by this re-interpretation of Greenwashing. 

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