Natural Washing in the Cosmetics Industry

Chances are, you’re a pretty well-informed shopper. According to the FDA, half of all Americans read food ingredient labels ‘always’ or ‘some of the time.’ More and more people are concerned about what they put IN their bodies. But how much attention are you paying to what you put ON your body?


60 percent of what you put ON your skin gets directly absorbed in your bloodstream. If you don’t believe that, try cutting a clove of garlic in half and rubbing it on the bottom of your foot. Within minutes, you’ll be able to taste garlic in your mouth. Seriously. Try it.


That’s why it’s so important to read and understand the ingredient labels on your skincare and personal care products.


Natural-Washing in the Skin Care Industry

[ctt template=”3″ link=”6by68″ via=”no” ]Learn about “natural washing” in the cosmetics industry: Via @heymollyb[/ctt]

Perhaps you pride yourself on buying your personal care products from natural brands only. You look for words like “clean,” “natural,” and even “organic.”


But unlike the food industry, those terms are not regulated. A brand can put a leaf on their packaging, say their ingredients are “plant-based,” or even use the word “natural” in their marketing – and it can be completely meaningless.


The cosmetics industry is an unregulated no-man’s land. This means that the ingredients in your personal care products aren’t subject to government approval. Companies can put anything they want in products – including toxic chemicals – and market them as natural.


This, my friends, is called “natural-washing.” (Some people call it “green washing.”)

I was at a friend’s house the other day. In her bathroom, she had a small tub of coconut oil. I picked it up and looked at the back of the container. The ingredients were:

  • Coconut Oil
  • Fragrance
  • BHA

Yet, the front of the container had a coconut and a leaf on it. You’d see it and immediately think it simply contains all-natural coconut oil. Not “fragrance,” containing potentially several unknown chemicals. And certainly not BHA, a known carcinogen.


That company pulled a “fast one” on my friend. And it’s likely they’re pulling a fast one on you two.


Know this:

  • Some brands label their products as organic even though they contain a very small amount of organic oil.
  • Some products are called “natural” when they’re laden with toxic chemicals. They just happen to contain a small amount of a natural ingredient.


Why Is It Important to Use Natural Skin Care Products?

If you’re someone who cares about what goes in your body (and you should be), you should care about what goes ON your body.


How would you feel if you found out that the food you thought was healthy was full of toxic carcinogens?


You’d probably be pissed. Afraid, even.


Well, every time you pull a random shampoo, body wash, or lipstick off the shelves and put it on your body, you’re dosing yourself with toxic chemicals.


What you put ON your body has the same effect as what you put IN your body.


On any given day, it’s likely that you’re exposing yourself to 200 different chemicals, many of which are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones. EPA tests show that many ingredients in shampoos, dyes, and other personal care products “may be reeking havoc with hormones that control reproduction and development.”


One in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in her lifetime.


[ctt template=”3″ link=”Y2dtH” via=”no” ]1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in her lifetime. via @heymollyb[/ctt]


The rates of cancers, infertility, autism and other disorders have been on the rise in the last 50 years. And the amounts of carcinogenic products we’re consuming has also increased. Thankfully, organizations like the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are exposing companies who use cancer-causing chemicals in their products.


Here is some data that you might care to see, courtesy of


  • 4 pounds: Average amount of lipstick a woman will ingest over her lifetime.
  • 11: Percentage of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal-care products that the U.S. government has documented and publicly assessed for safety.
  • 1,110+: The number of ingredients banned in cosmetics in the European Union.
  • 10: The number of ingredients banned in cosmetics in the United States.
  • 600: The number of companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.
  • 20: Percentage of personal-care products that contain at least one chemical linked to cancer.
  • 22: Percentage of cosmetics contaminated with possible cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane.
  • $160 billion: Amount spent annually on skin- and hair-care, makeup, cosmetic surgery, fragrances, health clubs, and diet products.


What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?


Always read ingredient labels: We have pulled together a helpful cheat sheet of the most harmful ingredients found in cosmetics, skincare, and personal care products. Print off this PDF document, put it in your wallet and take it with you when you go shopping. It lists the top toxic ingredients to avoid, what they do to you, what they’re found in, and safer alternatives.




Refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Database: This organization has a helpful database where you can search the toxicity of your cosmetics. Also, we recommend downloading the Think Dirty app, which helps you find cleaner, safer cosmetics.


Write or Call Your Representatives: We need policy change. Big beauty companies hide behind “trade secrets,” which harms you as a consumer. Those companies pay lobbyists millions of dollars per year to make sure their interests are protected. But who is making sure YOUR interests are protected?


Vote with Your Dollars: Stop buying toxic skincare products. Start pumping your dollars into safer beauty companies. Write on cosmetics’ companies Facebook pages asking for safer options. Tweet at them. Instagram them. Comment on product forums and let them know in the review sections. Let your voice be heard. Once there is enough of us asking for safety and transparency, the big companies will comply.

Click here to get your free PDF download to learn about the most harmful ingredients to avoid in your skincare and personal care products.


love, molly

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