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Greenwashing vs. true sustainability in the beauty industry (4 min read)

In this blog post, we dive deeper into the world of greenwashing and explain how you can make genuinely sustainable choices.

Imagine you just bought a new cosmetic product that was marketed as natural and environmentally friendly. You feel good about making a responsible choice—until you discover that the product contains harmful chemicals or was made somewhere other than advertised. You have just fallen victim to greenwashing.

Greenwashing is a significant problem in the beauty industry, where many companies use appealing but misleading marketing tactics to make their products appear more eco-friendly and responsible than they really are. Unfortunately, this can also harm the reputation of the product's resellers, as consumers become disappointed when the promises made to them are not fulfilled. 

So, how can you differentiate genuinely sustainable products from greenwashing?

Greenwashing can be hidden behind statements like: 


This term can be misleading if the product's manufacturing process isn't entirely environmentally friendly.

"Natural ingredients"
A product may contain natural ingredients but still include synthetic substances and potentially harmful chemicals.

"No harmful chemicals" 
This claim can be vague, as "harmful" chemicals can mean different things to different people, and the term is not precisely defined.

A label may state "organic," even if only some ingredients are certified organic.

"Made in Sweden"
This might mean the product is assembled or packaged in Finland, but the raw materials and components could be imported. Consumers might assume the entire production chain is domestic, which may not be the case.

"Domestic product"
This claim might suggest the entire product is made in Finland, even though only part of the production process occurs domestically. For instance, raw materials or certain production stages might come from abroad.

"Responsible product"
The challenge with this word is that it can mean many different things. What does responsibility mean anyway? Without clear definitions, claims of responsibility can be very vague.

"Vegan product"
Veganism means that no animal-derived ingredients are used in the product. This is undoubtedly good and particularly important for vegans, but veganism does not necessarily mean the product is eco-friendly or natural.

"Cruelty-free product"
EU legislation has completely banned animal testing in cosmetics since 2013. Advertising this in a cosmetic product is marketing the obvious, which might suggest the product doesn't have actual sustainability promises.

Transparency and honesty as the foundation of trust When using these phrases, it's essential to verify that they are truthful and backed by clear and verifiable grounds. Transparency and honesty are crucial in building trust with customers.

As an importer, it is extremely important to us that we communicate truthfully, reliably, and honestly. Our customers trust us, and we want to earn that trust every day. Therefore, transparency is central to everything we do. We want to ensure that you know exactly what you are getting when you choose our services and products.

Who can consumers trust? 

In the hair industry, consumers hold a special place in professionals' hearts. We want to take care of our customers, provide them with the best possible service, and keep their hair healthy and beautiful. We know that those working in this field never want to deceive anyone—on the contrary, they genuinely want the best for their customers. However, because the industry encompasses a wide range of companies and the legislation surrounding all this has been almost non-existent, the responsibility often falls on hair industry entrepreneurs to ensure that all claims and promises are truthful and based on real evidence. This applies not only to environmental claims but to everything we say about our products and services.

Changes in legislation coming 

The European Parliament is currently working on updating rules on commercial practices and consumer rights to improve consumer protection, protect the environment, and promote a circular economy. A key part of this reform is banning greenwashing! Now is the perfect time to stop and examine what your claims are based on and whether they are accurate. You can read more about the preparation here.

Checklist for truthful communication 

How can a hair industry entrepreneur ensure that they do not unintentionally or indirectly engage in greenwashing? This checklist will help you ensure that the products you use and resell are indeed what they claim to be. Use this list to evaluate the truthfulness of communication and marketing claims and find out how you can implement it in practice:

  • Does the company's operation have an open and transparent reputation? 
  • Has the company always been transparent in its communication?
  • Is it possible to identify the company's responsible individuals and contact them?
  • Has the product been awarded a reliable organic or environmental certificate? (A reliable certification, such as the COSMOS standard, is always transparent and audited by a third party.)
  • Does the certification cover the entire product line or just a specific product or its ingredient? 
  • Is the product's origin and production chain documented and traceable? (For example, the company's B Corp certification helps assess the responsibility of the production chain.)
  • Are the claims substantiated, and is there concrete evidence or research to support them?
  • Are the backgrounds of marketing claims disclosed, and are the claims based on impartial facts? For instance, if a cosmetic brand claims to be natural, always look for the naturalness percentage on the product label. Otherwise, the claim might be more marketing than truth. 
  • Are the ingredients and manufacturing methods genuinely environmentally friendly?
  • Do the ingredients not highlighted in the marketing also adhere to sustainability principles?
  • Is the company committed to continuous improvement in environmental matters?
  • How does the company respond to new or commonly available information?
  • Does it strive to improve its practices or maximize profits? 

Thank you for caring! 

Together, we can make the beauty industry a more sustainable and reliable place to operate. The more professionals increase their knowledge of genuinely sustainable solutions, the harder it becomes for companies to make misleading claims. As knowledge grows, we can not only avoid greenwashing but also promote the well-being of both the environment and people.

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