Virtually every cosmetics or personal care products company in the tries to sell its customers on the idea that above all else, they are trying to help. They’re on your side, their products are safe, their products are natural, and all of their business operations are wholesome and virtuous. This is, of course, a fallacy. Business is business, and companies are always going to be most concerned with taking care of their executives and shareholders. Even in the cosmetics industry. There’s a time and a place for altruism, and a board room doesn’t really fit the billing.
Now, with that being said – this doesn’t mean that cosmetics or personal care products companies can’t or don’t help people. Many companies produce a vast array of cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, cleansers, etc. that provide real solutions for consumers at reasonable prices. More so, a great number of these companies do in fact lead charitable efforts that do a lot of good for humanity and the environment. There’s no denying that. However, as previously stated, business is business. As the great French Montana once said, “All about the moolah, all about the moolah.”
Therefore, in the name of profit-turning, there are many business malpractices being committed by these companies that contradict their innocent public mission statements. We could spend all day writing about them, but in the interest of practicality, here are the top-5 cosmetics and personal care company violations that are most relevant in 2017:
Not So Cruelty-Free
The term ‘cruelty free’ is thrown around so frequently these days that consumers have almost become numb to hearing it. While Americans are more likely than ever to oppose animal testing, a number of major brand-names including Neutrogena, Revlon, Victoria’s Secret, Covergirl, and L’Oreal violate cruelty-free principles in some capacity. Most commonly, these companies allow for Chinese-mandated animal testing in order to sell their products in China, proving that they assuredly value profits over morals.
A number of major cosmetics and personal care products companies do in fact offer wholly cruelty-free catalogs, including Aveda, Lush, Bath and Body Works, Paul Mitchell, and Urban Decay. Supporting truly cruelty-free companies in favor of companies that do conduct animal testing is the best way to drive animal testing out of the industry for good.
Markups, Markups, and More Markups
Cosmetics is one of the most unjustifiably marked up product categories in the world. With an average markup on premium cosmetics of 78-percent, companies continue to take advantage of consumer willingness to spend by overcharging for products and brand-name labels. Effective cosmetics products can be produced for a pittance and still find success at exorbitant prices based on brand name alone. Thankfully, in 2016 consumers took a step towards loosening the stranglehold that big-name brands have on the cosmetics industry by showing an increased willingness to opt for cheaper, generic labels. Let’s hope this trend continues.
Sulfates, Parabens, and Other Silent Killers
It’s hard to believe, but the overwhelming majority of cosmetics companies are still using unsafe chemicals and additives in their formulations. This despite the overwhelming evidence of their harmful effects and unsafe properties. Consumers: this is on you! If you don’t hold corporations accountable for these practices by refusing to buy their unsafe products, they’ll see no reason to change things up. Hitting them in their wallet is one message that they will undoubtedly hear loud and clear, so opt for safe, natural products every time!
Among the most commonly used unsafe ingredients in cosmetics are sulfate, a cleansing agent used in many personal care products, and parabens, a cost-effective preservative. In addition to causing a negative effect on your skin or hair, sulfate has been shown to break down proteins, while parabens have been linked to hormonal imbalance and breast cancer. Turn the tide by using sulfate- and paraben-free products.
Miracle Products: Not Very Miraculous
We’ve all seen it before: advertisements and infomercials that promise unbelievable anti-aging results, feature remarkable before-and-after pictures, talk of newly discovered or ‘secret’ active ingredients, and charge and arm and a leg to boot. What these products are really selling, ultimately, is hope. People don’t want to go through the necessary invasive lifestyle changes to significantly improve their skin or hair. What they want are quick and easy results, and they’re willing to spend on what ultimately amounts to a lottery ticket to get it.
Don’t be fooled by boasts or unsubstantiated claims. Be smart. Find out what kinds of cosmetics ingredients are useful in promoting skin and hair health, and find companies and products that utilize these ingredients. Avoid the bad, find the good. It’s that simple.
And the Rest
We could spend all day talking about the numerous ethical violations and grey-area business practices that the cosmetics industry is replete with. Sadly, necessity dictates that we keep things relatively concise and straight-forward. Among other malpractices to look out for are unsafe spray products that harm the environment, marketing vehicles that prey on the vulnerable self-esteem of young girls, and flashy products like bath bombs that make a splash but don’t offer any therapeutic benefits whatsoever.
In closing, the underlying message that consumers need to take away from all of this is simple: be smart. Be a smart consumer, be an educated consumer, and you will easily avoid these pitfalls and traps that are the near-inevitable result of companies putting their bottom line first. You’re smart enough to realize that these issues and potential problems for consumers could be easily avoided by simply exercising caution and learning about what makes for a safe, reasonably priced, ethically produced cosmetics product. Go forth with this in mind, and together we can change the industry – one savvy consumer at a time!
Author Byline: Caleb Backe is a writer and editor for Maple Holistics.