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  • Writer's pictureNicole Salter

Beauty industry jargon: The Ugly Truth

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

So you are standing there in the drugstore aisle reading labels, because you know you are supposed to do that, and you see all kinds of amazing things! Wow, how are you ever going to choose given all the incredible Zero Paraben, No Silicone, Botanical, Sulfate-Free and other lovely bath and body care products?!

Blonde artificial lashes

Here's the thing: While they may not be outright untruths, some of the claims on the label don't mean very much at all (like non-comedogenic, which we already slaughtered in a previous blog post). And we at SaltZ&Co are totally guilty of using some of our competitors' jargon, largely because if we don't, people start to think using our stuff is on a par with burning the rainforest to the ground to access all the baby seals.

I recently saw an ad for a kids' bath product on Etsy and was kinda floored to see them boast of a 'natural, sustainable, renewable resource' on the ingredient list - sugar. Now quite apart from the fact that sugar is NOT all that sustainable (forests must be razed for plantations, which are then farmed in typically brutal conditions by impoverished and abused workers) and is only renewable if more cane is planted...the product itself also contained a number of harsh artificial ingredients. But it was easy to disguise them because most of us are too busy to look past 'natural, sustainable, renewable...' - certainly I would be, if I hadn't become familiar with the tricks of this industry!

Don't be hoodwinked - just know what you are reading on that bottle of shampoo, body wash, or lotion, and what it really means, and then decide.

5 Bogus Beauty Buzzwords to Beware Of - And We're Guilty of a Couple

Beauty industry jargon is used to describe virtually every bar of bath soap, skin cream and body wash out there - we won't even get into cosmetics, that's another article - but here are the most common offenders.

1. Cruelty-free: Now, this used to mean something. It used to refer to 'not tested on animals'. But when you see this on a product from a tiny company (like ours) that would never have the means, ability or need, let alone the desire, to test its products on animals, and when you consider that even mega-corporations who used to test their products on animals have stopped the practice long ago, it becomes a pretty meaningless label. It's even worse when the product contains harsh additives that are certainly not cruelty free to the wildlife they will end up poisoning once the product reaches the waterways!

2. Vegan: This is a great label for food, soap, creams and lotions. But bath salts? Not many people were using lard in their bath salts to begin with, thank you very much, so maybe it doesn't really need to be said.

3. Chemical-free/Pure: Oh really? We know what you mean, but since even water is technically a chemical, this is another meaningless beauty buzzword. It is like bragging that the chicken is 'hormone free' when the use of hormones in poultry has been banned for more than half a century in Canada.

As for "pure", a word that is applied equally to snowy mountains and virgins and beer probably doesn't mean a whole lot, either.

4. Hypoallergenic: So that means if I end up being allergic to your product I can sue the pants off you? This term means nothing because no one can guarantee that a given skin product won't cause allergies. This one reminds me of non-comedogenic, a label given to products that are supposed to NOT cause acne, whatever that means.

5. Proven or Patented: Proven by whom? It is actually extremely difficult to prove anything when it comes to bath and body care products because much of the evidence is anecdotal. Even what works for most may not work for all - not only are we all different, we also are not using a product in isolation. So many other factors, from what else we are putting on our skin and hair to our environment, the amount of moisture in the air, genetics, diet, and much more, can affect how a product works on a given day for a given individual. And a patented formula doesn't necessarily mean a better formula. You can obtain a patent for a process that turns lead into gold - it doesn't have to work!

So what should you, the intelligent consumer, be looking for when it comes to skin care products? We'll talk about some great things to look for on the label, in an upcoming post. Until then, please be gentle with us as you may occasionally see one or two of these beauty buzzwords popping up on our very own product labels. It's not greenwashing if you really are green!

Keep calm and SaltZ On :)


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