Beauty Brands Accused of Misleading Terminology on their Packaging

Beauty products being falsely marketed as ‘green’ or ‘organic’ are causing a stir in the UK, with new campaigns coming forward to combat the rise of so-called ‘greenwashing’ beauty products. 

Come Clean About Beauty (which is also known as the Campaign for Clarity) is turning on the pressure and demanding companies back up claims that their products are made with all-natural or organic ingredients.

The campaign was set up by the Soil Association, the UK’s leading independent certifier of organic products. Their seal of approval can be found on millions of household products nationwide, including foods, drink, clothing and agricultural products. 

For beauty products to be certified by the Soil Association, they must contain at least 95% organic ingredients.

A report published by the organisation called out various products for having ‘misleading’ terms, such as natural, in the title. Boots’ Beautiful Hair Moisture & Nourish Shampoo with Added Organic Argan Oil was the most highly-ranked in terms of misleading labelling. There were an additional twelve beauty products on the list that were ‘uncertified and potentially misleading’, according to the report. 

In a survey carried out as part of the report, 72% of participants said they lost trust in brands that misleadingly claimed to be organic. 

Although cosmetics giant LUSH’s name was nowhere to be found on the list of offending products, the company has come under fire recently for promoting itself as all-natural, organic brand. In reality, LUSH’s products contain a plethora of chemicals, many of which have been proven to be toxic or harmful to humans. It’s possible it avoided making the list because the products themselves generally steer clear of marketing buzzwords like ‘organic’, choosing instead to market their storefronts and website with such terms. 

The EU laws that govern cosmetic marketing are clear; ‘When environmental claims are made, cosmetics companies shall respect the principles of truthfulness, clarity, accuracy, relevance and scientific substantiation. If the environmental claim being made is not literally true or is likely to be misinterpreted by consumers or is misleading through the omission of relevant facts, this environmental claim shall not be made.’

Abroad however, the laws that control how companies market cosmetics are much tighter. In Canada, the Natural Health Product Regulations oversee the labelling and advertising of cosmetic products, and have taken on a role that was previously carried out by Health Canada. 

China goes a step further, banning all unnecessary words in the titles of beauty products. The law states that the name of thecosmetic product should be concise and it must not contain any content which may mislead or deceive the consumers. The Cosmetics Naming Guidelines prohibits the use of phrases such as; powerful effect, extraordinary, skin renewing, wrinkle removing, anti-bacterial and any expression that falsely claim a product is ‘absolutely natural’. 

What do you think about this? Should brands be more responsible about potentially misleading terminology on their packaging?