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Greenwashing

Greenwashing

At Madame Lemy, we seek to educate consumers about the ingredients that actually exist in many deodorants, especially those sold by many large deodorant companies that have served consumers for many years. Recently, we discovered that a deodorant released by a big-brand deodorant company that featured large text that highlighted the deodorant’s “natural scent” and 0% aluminum content on the front and center of their packaging. The packaging itself was adorned with graphics of colorful fruit--typical packaging to create the illusion of a clean and natural product. We were shocked that the company had seemed to market it in a way that would make consumers believe the product was safe and all-natural when, in fact, it is not. 

The reason for this is simple. Big brands are seeing a shift in consumer purchasing behavior towards natural products. Not wanting to miss out on this segment of consumers, it makes sense for these big companies to follow suit. While it would be amazing to see more established brands make a move towards creating all-natural deodorants, these brands instead are falling short by continuing to use toxic, carcinogenic chemicals in their products. To the customer, it seems as though they are increasing the safety and transparency of ingredients in their deodorants. In reality, they are simply taking out the most-known dangerous ingredient, aluminum, changing their packaging and marketing, and selling it as their “safe” Option. This is called greenwashing.

In particular, there are three dangerous chemicals in this deodorant released by the big deodorant company that we want you to be weary of: Glycol, Parfum and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene).

Glycol - Propylene glycol is a highly irritable ingredient, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Dermal, especially when the exposure is from cosmetics. It has been reported that even just a 2% of propylene glycol can be harmful, and many deodorants contain around 50% of it!

Parfum - In the United States, there are more than 3,000 chemicals--many of them hazardous to human health--that are not required to be disclosed under the words “parfum” or “fragrance.” In a given product, there can be anywhere from a few to over 100 additional chemicals in this product hidden under that one word. Until laws change, we will never know how many chemicals we are really being exposed to through our deodorants because companies can legally hide their full list of ingredients in this manner.

BHT - Tony Vargas, the former Vice President of Research and Development of Elizabeth Arden, he informed us that BHT is in the same family as BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole), which has already been banned from cosmetics due to its hazardous dangers on human health. Vargas predicts BHT will be the next ingredient that will be banned from use in cosmetics.  

Due to the lack of regulation in the cosmetic industry, companies easily get away with using carcinogenic ingredients. There are no laws or regulations for a cosmetic product to go to market in the US unless it is an over-the-counter product. That means any person can throw some ingredients together as long as they dont include the eleven chemicals banned in the US (compared to the EU’s 1,328 chemicals banned), put it in a jar and sell it tomorrow. Though there is obviously a lot more detail that goes into a larger corporation’s product development process, they can still legally put known carcinogens in their products and go to market with it. The hope is these big corporations will see the paradigm shift and make changes to make safe, healthy products.

Unfortunately only those educated on how to shop for truly natural products can see right through it. I was recently browsing the online list released by my favorite magazine publication of the best beauty products in 2018. There is now a natural section, and I was stunned when I saw this big brand deodorant listed at number one in that section. There are so many amazing, truly natural deodorant brands that fit the bill. Putting a product with known toxic chemicals on a natural list contributes to the issue of greenwashing. Unless the consumer has a reason or desire to go on their own search, they are going to put their trust in the publications they are reading and in branding of a product. We need to start addressing the deception of big brand companies and calling them out on it so consumers are given the real facts and actually know what is natural and what isn’t.

For 12 years, I worked as a makeup artist in TV, fashion and with celebrities on film sets, New York Fashion Week shows, and with some of the most recognizable faces in the world. I used expensive, beautifully-packaged products on all of my clients never thinking twice about the safety of these products. Not once did I ever think to question the safety of the products I was using. If it’s that expensive, pretty and in demand, it must be safe, right? During my hunt for a safe and natural deodorant, my eyes were opened on the lack of regulation across the cosmetic industry on a whole. As my journey continued with Madame Lemy, I felt it was my obligation to take my experience and knowledge and spread the word. Just because something is sitting on a shelf and looks natural, it does not mean it is.

You’re probably wondering what we as consumers can do to fight this harmful lack of regulation. We can make a difference with our wallet. Support brands that follow an ethical Standard. Vegan, cruelty-free, and safe ingredients. Eco-friendly packaging. Consumers over profit.

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