Transparency is a word that we use a lot when we talk about organic hair and beauty (which is fairly often). We like to think it refers to products and brands that practice what they preach, are truthful about their claims and don’t mislead organic beauty consumers. At Glasshouse, we stock a range of brands that do exactly that. But transparency is a hot topic in the natural beauty world at the moment, particularly with the launch of the Soil Association’s brand new Campaign for Clarity.
The campaign aims to call on brands who are making false claims about the organic credentials of their products; encouraging them to come clean about what’s really in their serums, soaps and shampoos. Unlike the organic food industry, there is no official certification for the beauty world, so the terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ can be used relatively freely. Not only is this confusing, but it’s ultimately misleading to the person using the product.
This is where Soil Association comes in. In a recent survey, they discovered that 76% of individuals felt mislead by the labels on these so-called natural and organic products. Whether it’s a conditioner claiming to be made with organic argan oil (when it only contains 0.5% of it) or an organic aloe vera lotion containing more harmful ingredients than organic ones, the Soil Association are cracking down on this kind of misinformation.
“We want to shine a spotlight on brands which make organic claims on the label, yet use ingredients which would not be permitted in an organic product” says Jenny Collins, Beauty Campaign Manager at Soil Association, “Our Come Clean About Beauty league table scores brands according to the number of unpermitted ingredients they use, the prominence of the organic claims and the availability of the product – which tells us the potential for it to mislead people.”
We’ve seen this part of the beauty industry only grow in popularity of late (“The organic beauty market grew by 13% in 2016” says Jenny), which is great for conscious consumers and green beauty advocates like us. But we wholeheartedly agree with the Soil Association’s view that stricter rules are required. If we want to know exactly what we’re putting on our skin and hair, then we need to be able to trust brands to tell us.
Luckily, there are plenty of brands doing things the right way. Organic Colour Systems use only certified organic ingredients in their hair products and they have The Soil Association stamp to prove it. This means we can trust that every piece of information on their bottles is true.
In an industry that’s all about keeping things simple, it’s surprising that the issue has got so complex. With initiatives like the Soil Association’s and a broader understanding of the organic beauty industry as a whole, hopefully things are looking up.
In the meantime, Soil Association will continue their work against “greenwashing”. “We want to see brands Come Clean About Beauty by taking responsibility for their labelling and using the terms organic and natural responsibly or not at all” explains Jenny. We’re excited to see how things develop! Make sure you sign the petition here.
Words: Lucy Vincent
Feature image: Mehdi Lacoste