September 2015


Greenwashing Beauty

Cosmetic split face


Greenwashing is the practice of creating a misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, technology, and service or company practice. Greenwashing can make a company appear to be more environmentally friendly than it really is by being vague, manufacturing false labels, and or having hidden tradeoffs. It can also be used to differentiate a company’s products or services from its competitors by promising more efficient use of power or by using more environmentally friendly containers for their products. People need to be informed of the growing amount of cosmetic and beauty products taking advantage the public’s obsession with “being green” and growing concerns of consumers to have healthy, cruelty-free cosmetics.

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A common brand you may have seen or even use is Cover Girl. This dominate company in the cosmetic industry has a line called NatureLuxe, which is used as liquid foundation to even out complexion in woman’s faces, more products in the line include NatureLuxe mousse mascara and lipstick. Unfortunately, the line is much like Suave “Naturals” and Aveeno’s so-called natural line surrendering to the bandwagon tactic of greenwashing. NatureLuxe is supposedly a healthier, greener option in drugstore cosmetics. Even looking at the smooth green tones of the foundation and other products containers suggests that these merchandises are refreshing, light and natural (as they advertise). Cover Girl, owned by P&G makes this product sound natural because they say that this line will “redefine natural beauty” on their site and describing the line as “luxury touched by nature.”

Looking at the ingredients in the foundation, this product is far from healthy and natural for application to your skin.

Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Water/Eau, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Chloride, Niacinamide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Diethylhexyl Carbonate, Talc, Propylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Wax, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Juice, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Dimethicone, Methicone, Aluminum Hydroxide, Fragrance/Parfum, Trideceth-9, Bisabolol, Lactic Acid, PEG-10 Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol.

Further analysis of the product containing Propylene Glycol and Trideceth-9:

Propylene Glycol: Propylene Glycol is used in combination with other chemical ingredients as a preservative. It is also found in products to make it easier for other added ingredients to be applied to the skin. This ingredient has been shown in studies to aggravate skin conditions such as eczema. This derivative of mineral oil is considered a petrochemical. There are many different grades of Propylene Glycol; industrial grade is found in anti-freeze.

Trideceth-9: According to the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List, this is classified as “expected to be toxic or harmful.”

So this is a case of cosmetic greenwashing where Covergirl is marketing their products as green, even though there are many harsh chemicals found within their “natural” products. This foundation isn’t better for you than other Covergirl products; however, they want to think it is by clever packaging.

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Another brand is Herbal Essence, who greenwashes its product through its name, packaging, and overall advertising. The name, Herbal Essence, even gives the illusion that these shampoos, conditioners and other hair additives are being made from natural materials. They label their product as “green”, even though they may only have a couple organic ingredients. The three main ingredients in the shampoo are water, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. Only one of these are natural (water), where the other two ingredients are known to be avoided by eco-friendly shampoo companies because they are not natural.

Herbal Essence Blog Picture

There is a new version of Herbal Essence product; with a fresh name like “Naked” it says it does not contain parabens which creates an idea that it does not contain toxic ingredients. Even though it doesn’t have any parabens and color dyes, it still has some environmentally concerning ingredients. The new line of Herbal Essence products come in a transparent bottle with green leaves, and pastel-colored flowers. This is used as a tactic to convey to consumers that this is a “pure” product.

Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally-conscious and concerned with where their products are made and the ingredients used in them. Companies are well aware that it is in their best interest to appeal to this expanding global market, and they are willing to go to any lengths, whereby misleading the consumer as being “green.” The objective of this post is to inform and educate the consumer about greenwashing and that specifically cosmetic companies go to great lengths in regards to product design to entice the consumer to place their product in their grocery cart, however the consumer needs read the “fine print” that is located on the product, the consumer needs to take the time to look for it and read the products they are buying.

About Nature Allure

Rays of Hope
Rays of Hope



Nature Allure was created for an Environmental Issues class I am currently enrolled in at a college in Upstate New York. I consider myself someone who advocates for the protection of our environment, because habitat and water management has always been a priority for my family and I since we bought acreage here in New York a few years ago.  My family and I have spent countless hours improving water quality and habitat for all the birds, fish and wildlife that call our place home.  Making weekly posts, I hope to educate and engage others with my love for the allure (charms) of nature, its creatures and issues related to our environment.

Virginia Creeper Vine
Virginia Creeper Vine