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Beauty / Health and wellbeing | 21.08.2015

Natural skin care: what you see isn't always what you get

The words ‘natural skin care’ have never been more powerful. 'Natural' has become such a big marketing buzzword that cosmetics companies are slapping it on their bottles, boxes, tubes and jars with wild abandon — whether or not the ingredients inside ARE actually natural. 

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?

And it turns out many consumers aren’t that fussed, as long as the product LOOKS natural. 

Social analytics firm NetBase conducted a two-year study into exactly what consumers are saying about leading skin care brands online. The Brand Passion Report found that the 5 aspects of skin care that matter most to consumers (judging by comments on global social media sites) are: 

The highest amount of positive brand conversation was about ‘natural looking’ products, while talk about ‘anti-aging’ products had dropped in the past couple of years. 

I’m not quite sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it’s positive that people are seeking out ‘natural looking’ products.  But on the other hand, what’s the point of paying for a product just because it looks natural but is, in all likelihood, filled with toxic chemicals, preservatives, fillers, synthetic fragrances, plasticisers and endocrine disruptors?

If you want to know the truth about some of the major cosmetics and skin care brands (even some of those that look natural), read our blog post: 17 frightening facts you should know about skin care products.

I really hope some of those consumers that feel drawn to the illusion of all things natural, clean, fresh and healthy will dig a little deeper.

I always suggest people read the ingredients labels (ingredients are listed by volume in descending order so if the first ingredients listed is water or aqua, that's what you're mostly paying for).

Breakdown of a skin care label

If you imagine the label is roughly divided into three parts, the ingredients are listed in descending order of quantity:

1. The top third of the label: this area lists the ingredients that constitute the majority of the product. These ingredients usually make up around 80-95% of the product and the common ingredient you’ll find here is water, or aqua.

2. The middle third of the label: this constitutes about 4–12% of the product and is made up of oils, actives, emulsifiers and surfactants.

3. The bottom third of the label: this makes up around 1–8% of the product and consists of preservatives, fragrances, stabilisers and label claims. Because ingredients are listed in descending order, by the time you get to the lower third of the label, some of those ingredients could be just label claims. For example, if a product is boasting that it contains argan oil, but the argan oil is listed way down the bottom, it’s probably a label claim.

stay a step ahead of deceptive marketing

Are you swayed by marketing of skin care products that use the word 'natural' or create natural-looking packaging?

@bymukti

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