Friday, July 22, 2011


By Jada Lombard

Truth in advertising, ah yes, remember back when this phrase meant something? When companies made claims that were actually true? When companies cared if what they were selling you was good or bad for your health? What happened along the way? Are companies simply giving us what we want? More smell, more lather, prettier packaging, prettier colours, youth in a bottle, and hopeful claims? This must be why I can’t even count on my fingers, toes, eye lashes, and hairs on my head, the number of cosmetic and toiletry products sitting on store shelves right now that are making blatant false performance claims and promises and are getting away with them. Natural, organic, wholesome, safe, dermatologist approved and tested, buyer beware, take these claims with a mountain of salt, some are true, most are false. So, why are companies are allowed to this? 

The answer is simple. Health Canada’s role is primarily to assist and educate the public on what is safest for use, and to oversee cosmetic and toiletry labeling in Canada. The primary voice and most influential player of the cosmetics and personal care products industry, the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) does not force companies to prove their product claims are true or that their products are safe, that is, until consumers complain to them about a product, only then will they look more closely at that product, and Health Canada steps in at this point as well. 

Another interesting tidbit of information is that the CCTFA is a trade association/lobby group which is solely funded by member companies, and who do you suppose these member companies are? You guessed it, the leading companies in the cosmetics and personal care industry that generate 80-90% of the 7.4 billion dollars of the industries revenue. Now, I do feel that I am rather biased when it comes to this topic, but wouldn’t anyone with half a brain consider this a HUGE conflict of interest? Really, a lobby group that is basically funded by those it is responsible to oversee and support??? So, you can probably see where I am going with this. This type of twisted relationship paves the way for these member companies to slap whatever the kind of label they want on a bottle, package of diapers, or tube of toothpaste, and not get their hands slapped, that is, until consumers catch on and start asking questions.

Now, since we are on the topic of labeling, I need to let you know that there is something REALLY shady going on in your local drug stores, pharmacies, big box cosmetics and toiletries stores, it is called “Green washing”, this in my opinion is as shady as it gets. Companies are introducing “new” products to the market that are advertised as “green”, “natural”, “organic’, safe”, “botanical”, they even go as far as to make the containers/jars green and dye their products a certain colour to make them appear more “natural”. But what is lacking is the natural product!!

Why would a company do this? So that a company can charge 2 to 6 times AS MUCH for the product, come off as an environmentally conscious company, all the while the ingredients in that product are practically identical to that of their less natural, organic, pure, products. It's deceitful, underhanded, and in poor taste. 

For a primetime look at what is going on in industry, take a look at this CBC Marketplace piece called Lousy Labels. Now, I know, this Marketplace clip may not expose the greater issues surrounding Organic/Natural vs. generic run of the mill products, nor, does it educate the consumer on what their next step should be to fight back against these companies that are literally STEALING money from your pocket, but at the least it brings to light a very important issue. The Canadian government is doing NOTHING to stop companies from making misleading claims and green washing. We the people, must stand up and demand that a regulatory body oversee the 7 BILLION dollar a year cosmetics and toiletry industry. We must insist on truth in advertising and institute a law that companies must truthfully label and ensure that harmful, potentially toxic ingredients be CLEARLY indicated on all ingredient lists. We must also demand that CCTFA come up with a similar system that proves and certifies that products that claim to be organic, natural, botanical are just that, so customers will not be taken in by green packaging or believe that diapers are natural because some crook decided to dye them a light shade of brown. Who's with me? 

Jada Lombard

Freelance Makeup Artist
The Green Bath & Beauty Company
Kingston, Ontario, Canada


Read other articles by Jada: MAKEUP TRENDS, (UN)SAFE COSMETICS

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