What is Greenwashing and Why Does it Matter?

young women splashing water on her face

​Do you know what's in the products you use everyday?

Shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser....basically everything that you put on your body MAY contain chemicals that are harmful to your health.

But if they sell something on a store shelf, it must be safe, right?  Wrong.

Standards for the cosmetics industry are incredibly loose in most countries, and many preservatives, dyes, fragrances, etc., are actually kind of toxic.

And what's worse is that "natural" in the cosmetics industry doesn't actually mean anything.  Think you use a natural product?  Flip around the bottle to check.  If you find all sorts of synthetic chemicals in there that's because of a phenomenon called "greenwashing".​

Before I started using certified organic products and really looking into what went into all the products we use everyday (shower gel, face lotion, laundry detergent, etc.), I had no idea what "greenwashing" was.

What is Greenwashing?

"Greenwashing" refers to the process of making claims that a product is "natural" or "organic" - or even just giving that impression - while it is in fact full of synthetic chemicals that are possibly or even known to be toxic.

Why does this happen?

Standards for the cosmetics industry in most countries (including the U.S., Canada, Australia, and others) are incredibly loose.  

Companies monitor themselves.  Many regulations are voluntary.  Ingredients don't have to be proven safe before they go to market; instead, they need to be proven unsafe before they are banned.  And some ingredients don't even have to be listed on products.  

two people in lab suits

(Fragrance is considered a trade secret.  And some ingredients may have contaminants that aren't listed.)

What makes the situation even worse is that the term "natural" is totally unregulated in the cosmetics industry.

That means that anyone can claim that any product (shower gel, concealer, shampoo, etc., etc.) is "natural".  There are no criteria.

And "organic" doesn't necessarily mean anything either.  The term "organic" simply means "containing carbon", which is virtually everything.

Why Does it Matter What You Put on Your Skin?

What you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream FASTER than what you eat.

Plus, any toxins or bad stuff in what you eat gets filtered out of your body by your kidneys.  If there are toxins in the stuff you put on your skin, it goes directly into your bloodstream without any such filtering.

Here is just a short list of the worst potential toxins that may be lurking in your personal care and cosmetics products.

  • Parabens are preservatives that have been found in breast cancer tumors.
  • SLES and PEG-compounds may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.  1,4-dioxane is a possible human carcinogen (i.e. possibly causes cancer) and is banned as an ingredient but can be found in many products as a contaminant.
  • MEA, DEA, and TEA compounds are possibly contaminated with nitrosamines, which have caused cancer in more than 40 animal studies.
  • Long term exposure to phthalates (used as a binding agent in fragrance) can cause liver and kidney damage.

How Can You Tell What is ACTUALLY Natural & Organic?

There are 2 ways that you can get rid of potential toxins in your products for good.

  1. Learn how to read labels.  You can pick up your FREE label-reading guide here and learn how to quickly & easily identify the worst cosmetic toxins.
  2. Use a product that is CERTIFIED organic.  If it is certified by a third party, like the USDA (the United States), the ACO (Australia), or the IFOAM (International), then there are strict regulations that have to be followed.

Want a quick and easy way to identify synthetic junk that you shouldn't be putting on your body?  Be sure to pick up your FREE Consumer's Guide to Cosmetics Toxins.  This handy 1-page guide will tell you exactly what to avoid and why.

Product Reviews, Detox Tips, and Exclusive Freebies
Get the latest product reviews, detox tips, in depth ingredient analysis, and (most important) EXCLUSIVE COUPONS and discounts from the best natural & organic companies around.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.


I am a Ph.D. candidate at McMaster University, a twin mommy, and a health and wellness entrepreneur. I am in the process of building a sustainable online business to support my family, and helping others to build sustainable businesses themselves. Find me on Google+.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Leave a Reply:

CommentLuv badge