I’ve been a true loyalist to Origins, Aveda and The Body Shop for the better part of ten to fifteen years. I admit, I walk into a store and I fall hook, line and sinker for the scents they pump through their stores. The Body Shop was one of the first companies that tauted no testing on animals. And being the animal lover that I am, this appealed to me greatly. Whether it be a mouse or a dog, if it has fur and four legs, I’m pretty much in love. Aveda was one of the first shampoos that I bought that went beyond the cheapo brands. And well, Origins has had an image of being pure and natural from the get-go. Let’s chalk up all of this to great brand imaging and strategy: If you have ever come face to face with these companies’ marketing campaigns you can’t help but conjur up thoughts and images of nature, fresh, organic, healthy products that are going to make you look and feel great…naturally.
After working with Shelly Ballestero on our recent article of ‘The Detriments of Cosmetics‘, I started to tune in and do some homework around these products I’ve come to love. When I checked up on these three manufacturers on ‘Skin Deep,’ a Cosmetic Safety Database, I was left somewhat surprised and disappointed: All three of them have a good number (the majority) of products that are poorly ranked when it comes to the level of hazardous ingredients they include. Not so natural or fresh…is it?
Luckily, awareness is growing. A coalition of public health, educational, environmental, and consumer groups, amongst others, make up The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which works directly with cosmetic manufacturers to encourage reformulations and safer ingredients. Over 500 companies have voluntarily signed a pledge called the campaign’s “Compact for Safe Cosmetics,” a pledge to formulate products that do not use ingredients that are known or suspected to cause certain health harms within three years of signing. Get this…only The Body Shop (owned by L’Oreal) has signed this pledge. Aveda and Origins (both owned by Estee Lauder) have not.
Although each of these three companies have safe products, they also have a wealth of unsafe products. So what do you do? Just like reading nutritional labels is crucial to understanding what makes up the food you eat, understanding the ingredients in a personal care product can keep you from using toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic products that could be hazardous to your health. It is good to know that awareness is growing around this topic…as many of us have been misled to believe claims that products are natural and good for you, when they very well aren’t. I’m also glad to know that The Body Shop is moving their company into safer waters…because I still am a diehard for their products. Companies like The Body Shop need to forge ahead and make other manufacturers follow suit…and fast. I look forward to the day that consumers don’t have to do the dirty work of investigation into the products they choose.