by Mark Wuttke
It’s 2014 and time to take a fresh look at the universe of “green” beauty products. Why? As the category grows exponentially, so does the complexity of information provided by manufacturers and retailers. Given that the skin is the body’s largest organ, it is wise to be mindful of what one puts on it. Here’s a brief quiz:
True or False?
All green beauty products are alike.
FALSE. The integrity of a product begins at the growing site and continues through processing and packaging before it hits the retail shelf. Did you know, for example, that U.S. companies are required by law to treat raw botanical plant substances being imported from other countries? The most common forms of treatment include fumigation with chemicals like methyl bromide or irradiation which arguably renders any botanical ingredient to the category of non-living plant material? Natural and organic ingredients that are cultivated, harvested, and distilled into a liquid or packaged dried form at the host farm are exempt from this requirement when crossing borders. The difference in quality between the two is like night and day as are the environmental concerns
Knowing that a product is certified green is sufficient reassurance for the consumer.
FALSE. It is imperative to know whether the certification is self-awarded by the manufacturer or provided by a credible, impartial third-party organization. It is also very important to understand if the entire product is certified or just a few selected ingredients. Respected certifiers in the field of natural and organic include NATRUE, EcoCert, and Demeter USA, among others..
Consumers who purchase green products are more concerned about doing the right thing for the environment than getting results.
FALSE. If this were ever true, it is no longer. Consumers today are seeking results, and those who do their homework will find products and product lines that are able to prove efficacy through clinical trials and other scientific research conducted by credible, impartial third party organizations.
It is important to know how a product has been handled in the manufacturing process.
TRUE. Just as how one handles food affects its nutrients – prepared raw, lightly steamed, or microwaved – the way a product is manufactured can bring the same range of results. With plants used for products, the extraction method is key. A plant that is aggressively percolated, macerated, or where harsh chemicals are used to extract and/or force the natural content will produce a much different end product than one whose natural properties are gently brought forth as essences, extracts, and elixirs. The latter method is designed to preserve, rather than destroy, the plant’s nutrient value. Knowing that, it is easy to understand the importance of the manufacturing process.
The terms “natural”, “organic” and “green” are interchangeable.
FALSE. A review of certification organizations and their standards will show that there are variations in definitions as well as in degrees based on a product’s level of purity and how it has been handled from the ground through processing and packaging.
Reading and understanding skincare product labels is as important as knowing ingredients of foods one buys.
TRUE. With the range of product ingredients, processes and certification types, the savvy consumer knows before buying and is better off for it.
Mark Wuttke heads the Wuttke Group, LLC, a business development team with a focus on sustainable, organic beauty products in luxury spa and boutique retail. He is a globally recognized authority in environmentally and socially responsible business practices and he oversees brand development and distribution strategy for several results-oriented, plant-powered skin care collections including Amala.