Let’s face it. The new conscious consumer is emerging savvier than ever. Soon, a brand will not be able to use “organic” in its name without living up to the title.

Look at the investment One Love Organics made last year to become an Ecocert certified manufacturing facility in order to produce its own certified organic products.

In green beauty, every line is held up to scrutiny and one glitch in marketing could tear down the facade. That’s why brands need to come up with new terminology because consumers want 100 percent authenticity more than anything. Tweet This!

I believe it’s a good sign that we are progressing away from certain words. Our word choices prove that we are informed and can no longer be duped into buying something because of an “all natural” sticker on the label.

It also shows that we are making tremendous strides toward a total beauty evolution where catch-all promises like “anti-aging” are no longer relevant and transparency is the norm.

Pretty soon even the term “green beauty” will be obsolete as it continues to infiltrate mainstream markets and claims its rightful title as simply “beauty”—a category that no longer demands distinction.

Clean beauty will become the new standard of beauty and everything else will require the label: “Contains chemicals that may prove harmful to your health and to the environment” OR “Produced in a facility that does not treat its workers fairly.” Because we need to be aware before we buy.

Meanwhile, these promotional terms need to get the boot.

Non-toxic

As any formulator will tell you, even rose essential oil, a seemingly natural and innocuous ingredient, can become toxic at high levels. The FDA states that “many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic.” (Source)

“Non-toxic,” which literally means non-poisonous, harmful, or deadly, is such an ambiguous term that it actually proves nothing about a brand’s care in formulations and could be misleading.

When a company uses it, a big red flag goes up and you’d better research its ingredients with a magnifying glass. You’ll likely be surprised by what you unearth that is far from a non-toxic claim.

Look at what has happened to the now defunct Ava Anderson Non-Toxic. When held up to the lens, it collapsed entirely. It seems the company folded due to mounting issues regarding not listing all their ingredients, perhaps to guard their “non-toxic” image, but that’s merely speculation on my part.

The official statement on the website reads: “Our daughter has been under attack, online and in person, and has been tethered to social media for years, attempting to protect the brand and the company she cares so much for.”

If there is nothing questionable in the labeling, there is nothing to defend. Period. Tweet this!

Maybe it’s also worth examining whether toxic and beauty belong in the same sentence.

Check out Josh Rosebrook’s site. You won’t find the word “toxic” anywhere. Instead, he focuses on celebrating what makes his products work and the selective process that feeds his formulas. That is a way prettier approach to beauty if you ask me.

Preservative-free

If a product publicizes itself as “preservative-free,” run from this irresponsible company instantly. A product containing water must include a preservative in order to maintain shelf life and resist mold and bacteria. It is the type of preservative that matters. But a lack of preservative is not only a careless marketing ploy, it can be harmful.

Chemical-free

Any brand that’s using this phrase is probably still living in the previous decade when brands needed to hunt down words to prove that they were free from harmful ingredients. Use it and be prepared to receive a barrage of angry shouts that even water is a chemical.

This phrase misses the mark completely and reflects poorly on a company. Instead, brands  like Laurel Whole Plant Organics use “harsh chemicals” or “toxic chemicals” to distinguish what’s not in their formulas, and those words work much better.

Free from

The UK cosmetics trade association (CTPA) and France’s body for competition and fraud control (DGCCRF) advised against the “free from” claim in 2009 (source), stating that a brand that pronounces itself to be free from certain chemicals is willfully misleading the consumer into thinking it’s offering a healthier option and implies that the other ingredients used to replace those chemicals are safer and better.

It is certainly no guarantee and generally means the consumer needs to do more research or steer clear of the brand altogether. In researching this post, I found a line that really shocked me.

Paula’s Choice is a website written by Paula Begoun who is known to blow the whistle on false beauty claims. But look at what she wrote in an article titled 6 Meaningless Cosmetic Claims You Shouldn’t Believe:

“…and that’s why every Paula’s Choice product is free of unnecessary skin irritants.” Does that mean that if an irritant is necessary, they will use it? Really, as a consumer we have to dig deep and read between the lines.

Instead, follow the standard that May Lindstrom and Leahlani Skincare have perfected of extolling the virtues of each of the ingredients and the inherent beauty in truly natural formulations.

Plant-derived

Buyer beware. Thanks to this revelatory post by Josh Rosebrook, “plant-derived” is the new green washing—when companies misrepresent themselves as being more environmentally responsible than they really are. It is used to deflect notice of totally synthetic ingredients in a product, while still claiming to be clean and green.

Rather than repeat Josh’s entire article, head over there and take notes. It’s a must-read for any conscious consumer.

All natural

Snapple still uses this phrase on its bottles and the popular beverage is anything but natural. There is absolutely no regulation by the FDA when it comes to these labels and proving authenticity.

In fact, what would “all natural” mean anyway? Grass is not even all natural when there are pesticides sprayed all over it.

By the way, the FDA does not regulate the word “organic” either, though the USDA does but has minimal capacity to oversee it due to limited resources. So there is no guarantee that a product with organic in its name or in its ingredients is safer than its conventional counterparts.

Stephanie Greenwood, founder of Bubble & Bee, has a great explanation about why there’s no such thing as certified organic soap, so if you see a soap that’s organic, watch out! It’s definitely worth reading here.

It is time to quit slapping on meaningless phrases. The new conscious consumer wants authenticity above all else. Misleading the public, now that is toxic.