All that glitters is not green: Greenwashing & Clean Beauty – terra20
All that glitters is not green: Greenwashing & Clean Beauty

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By Erin Forget

Have you ever perused the drugstore and picked up a bottle of shampoo and questioned whether or not the pretty packaging with the botanical vibe was actually made with natural ingredients? If you have, you’re not alone. Packaging can be deceiving and marketers have done their research to know what colours, shapes and words invoke natural, clean and intrinsic feelings, even when the ingredients can be far from any of those things.

We’ve rounded up three common culprits hiding in seemingly “natural” products that can be harmful to your health and the environment. Sometimes greenwashing may be hard to identify, but being on the lookout for these three ingredients will help you avoid green beauty posers like a pro.


Where you typically find them: Found in cosmetics and beauty products with creamy textures.

Why it's used: They’re used as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture carriers. You’ll notice this ingredient always has a number behind it; the lower the number the more easily the compound is absorbed into your skin.

Why you won't find it at terra20: PEGs have been linked with possible genotoxicity (which means chemical agents that damage genetic information within a cell causing mutations), and may be contaminated with cancer-causing, 1,4-dioxane.

Mineral Oil

Where you typically find them: Found in creams and lotions.

Why it's used: It’s a light, clear liquid byproduct of refined crude oil. This ingredient can therefore can be a cost effective solution to help reduce moisture loss from skin.

Why you won't find it at terra20: It can clog your pores and damage skin. It can additionally be contaminated and the oil doesn’t biodegrade.


Where you typically find them: Found in soap, shampoos, and bubble bath (pretty much anything that gets really sudsy.)

Why it's used: Known as a surfactant, it’s used to lower the surface tension between ingredients and to create more bubbles.

Why you won't find it at terra20: Can irritate eyes and skin (cause allergic reactions), and has been linked to liver damage. It’s also toxic to aquatic life.

About the Author

Erin Forget

Erin is terra20's Marketing Coordinator. When she's not navigating the healthy living retail landscape she enjoys spending time in nature with her two dachshunds, archery, cultivating her vegetable garden and creative writing.


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