A study conducted by Organic Monitor - an independent research organisation - has found that Britain’s retailers score badly in terms of content in skincare products which claim to be organic or natural.
The author, Judi Beerling, a chartered chemist, found that products from two of the UK’s largest multinational retailers, Boots and Superdrug, scored poorly. On the scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest naturalness rating and 1 the lowest naturalness rating), both stores’ own-brand products scored at the lower end of the scale with Boots own Boots Extracts Fairtrade Brazil Nut Body Butter scoring just 2 out of 10. Amajit Sahota, managing director of Organic Monitor explains that while the product contained natural ingredients it also ‘contained all the synthetic chemicals that are common in conventional cosmetic products’ meaning that despite being marketed on the strength of its Fairtrade Brazil Nut content, it was found to be low in comparison with the cocktail of synthetics also present.
It is actually legal to market cosmetic products as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ even when natural or organic ingredients make up only a tiny percentage of the overall content. So Boots and Superdrug aren’t doing anything wrong, well apart from taking consumers for a ride.
So well done Organic Monitor for bringing this issue to light. It is something which Essential Care is incredibly passionate about – we believe that UK consumers need protecting from dubious marketing claims when buying skincare. (Regulation has existed since 1992 for organic food.) France has introduced regulations to protect cosmetics consumers, the USA is in the process of doing so and we think it’s about time we had the same here. Boots and Superdrug aren’t the only culprits; a number of brands have invented symbols to make you think that their product is certified organic.
Organic Monitor suggests that the best way to combat deception is through certification: ‘By adopting natural and organic cosmetic standards, formulators have a clear list of permitted/ prohibited ingredients and processes’. But we argue that this needs enforcing through regulation - without relying on companies to voluntarily certify (as Essential Care has done since our launch on 2003). Essential Care is supporting an Organic Trade Board initiative to change the law and protect both consumers and the brands who are doing things properly. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for the Soil Association symbol or another certificate of organic integrity to ensure you really are getting what you pay for.