Are You Being Greenwashed?

First things first: What is “Greenwashing”?

It’s how a company positions their products on the marketplace suggesting to the consumer that a product is eco-friendly, natural or better for them, when in reality it’s not.

A few drops of something natural does not make a product “green.”

In the world of beauty, often a company will put in tiny drops of something natural and then sell the consumer the fantasy that they’re purchasing a “green” product, when in fact most of the ingredients are still a chemical soup of potential toxins.

These ploys can include using botanical imagery, the color green or words that have no regulated definition. For example “natural” “herbal” and “pure” can be stamped on the front of a bottle even if it contains no real natural ingredients in it—and the U.S. government is totally OK with that.

In my work as a sustainable makeup artist and green beauty advocate, it’s been important to me not to bash brands. It’s just getting a little out of control these days with companies just trying to cash in on a trend. I feel like spreading hate doesn’t get us very far, but I’m a bit fed up with keeping quiet entirely.

Major greenwashers in the beauty industry…

Take a listen to the Green Divas Eco Style episode below to hear who I called out as a major greenwashers in the beauty industry and why. Learn about other catch phrases you should be aware of that are often used in false marketing practices.

What bothers me most are the brands who blatantly lie.

However there are brands who don’t present themselves with the natural or green slant, but customers themselves jump to that conclusion based on a feeling they get from the branding. A good example of this is Kiehl’s. My clients often assume it’s “a healthy brand” because of the Kiehl’s apothecary feel, which people associate with wellness. This isn’t a case of a brand greenwashing, but rather an example of how consumers can easily be mislead even of their own accord.

I want to make it clear that this topic is anything but clear. It’s impossible to draw a line in the sand and say, “these are truly green and these aren’t”. It all goes back to not having concrete definitions of what green means.

Want to see my list of beauty brands who are greenwashing? Visit


Listen to the latest Green Divas Health and Beauty segment on yoga, juicing and the California state of mind…

You can listen to the latest Green Divas Radio Show—and other green and healthy living podcasts—daily on (or get the GDGD Radio app)!

Written by Green Diva Kristen Arnett


Dimitris Dallis
Past Member 3 years ago

No :)

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper3 years ago


Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Christie C.
Christie C3 years ago

Thank you Green Divas. As a cosmetic manufacturer, I am well aware of this issue.

Sometimes it shocks me how easily people will believe marketing, especially if they want to believe the lies, like when a hot pink lipstick is sold as organic. I know that hot pink colors can't be made without synthetic pigments, but most consumers don't. So they buy the "organic" lipstick and tell everyone about it.

It irks me to see companies throwing around "natural" marketing while their products are full of petroleum and GMO crops. Money that should have gone to organics becomes money that supports Big Ag and Big Oil every day. I also get alarmed by all of the "handmade" cosmetics out there. Cosmetic ingredient vendors also greenwash their ingredients, lies that are believed by the hand-makers, who in turn spread the misinformation to their customers.

I hope that consumer awareness grows and that less money goes toward the fraudsters. Getting rid of the trade secret exemption with the FDA and requiring the disclosure of ALL cosmetic ingredients on labeling would be a good start. I had hopes that the USDA would strengthen organic cosmetic regulations, but unfortunately the NSOB has been taken over by corporate interests. Organic regulations will continue to deteriorate instead of getting better, unless massive consumer action to divest from organic fraudsters occurs.

.3 years ago


Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa3 years ago

Thank you

heather g.
heather g3 years ago

Had to contact a Customer Service desk about a "green, organic" sun-lotion. Even after shaking it repeatedly, it remained stubbornly clotted inside.

Victoria P.
Victoria P3 years ago

Another thing that's really irritating is finding a truly green product and getting to love it only to find it being bought out by one of the major corporations who then proceed to change the formula destroying whatever was best about it but still mooching off the product's established green reputation.