Don’t ever fall for cleanwashing!
Stop! You’re checking your dictionary for the meaning of “cleanwashing.” You won’t find it there—this practice is still pretty new and it might take a while for the term to be part of contemporary English.
So, what is cleanwashing?
It means marketing products as “clean” or “non-toxic” without backing up these claims, especially when the claims are not true. It is similar to greenwashing, where products are marketed as being “green” or “environmentally-friendly” when in reality they are not. You should be careful, as cleanwashing is the newer version of greenwashing. Nowadays, words like “clean,” “non-toxic,” “organic,” and “natural” might be misleading. Just because a product is labeled “clean” or “non-toxic” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Always check the ingredients. Learn what the mean, how they affect you, and how to pick what is best for you. Check out Soap Hope’s product and ingredient rating system here.
So, what does “clean” really mean?
The term “clean,” when it comes to beauty and skincare, has no clear-cut explanation or meaning. No government or third-party certified standard exists to qualify a product as “clean.” Because of this, manufacturers of skincare and beauty products have the leverage with their definition and explanation of clean. As consumers increasingly demand natural and clean products, most brands label their products as clean, non-toxic or natural, and have very little evidence to back up those claims. Amongst the few that make their standards public, they make it so ambiguous that you end up more confused than before. In the end, it becomes more difficult to tell what’s safe from what isn’t.
Are you being cleanwashed?
How do you spot out cleanwashing from all the product claims out there?
Simple! When you’re out shopping for beauty products, watch out for the terms “clean,” “non-toxic,” “chemical-free,” “active,” “plant-based,” “handmade,” “organic,” or “safe” on the product labels.
Though some of the traditional products with such labeling will be more effective than their conventional alternatives, others might be wolves in sheep clothing. It is crucial to set your own benchmark for clean, so as not to fall for cleanwashing. Having done that, you have to do your research and if you discover any of these things, then you’ve caught cleanwashing right in the act:
- the manufacturers refuse to reveal their standards, even after claiming to be clean or non-toxic on their labeling.
- when they reveal their standards, they make it ambiguous—if a manufacturer has skeletons in their cupboard, they’ll intentionally make their standards vague, or hide it altogether.
- There is no team or individual that can be held responsible for their standards.
- They do not convey the meaning of their ingredients properly or the sources for those ingredients.
- They say one thing on their product labeling, but the ingredients sing a completely different tune. Always read the ingredients.
Don’t fall for cleanwashing
Aha! Now that you can spot out cleanwashing by due diligence, how do you weed it out on the go? By becoming an ingredients expert of course! By having a good understanding of what ingredients constitute a safe, natural or organic formula for body and skin care products, weeding out cleanwashers becomes an easy task. Before going for any product that claims to be clean, non-toxic, organic, or natural, ensure to scrutinize the ingredients list to see if the ingredients match the huge claim. Most brands indicate natural or organic ingredients with an asterisk. Check out the ingredients we ban at Soap Hope here.
If you come across an ingredient that you’re unfamiliar with or are in doubt regarding its safety or functions, ensure to look it up. We have many resources at our fingertips now to learn about any ingredient’s concern or safety.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what to look for, be bold enough to choose brands that you can trust and that their products work best for your skin. Always look out for transparency, as the real “clean” brands will have nothing to hide. Shop smart! Shop Soap Hope 😊