76% of UK consumers feel misled by green beauty labelling

The Soil Association predicts there are thousands of products on sale in the UK that make organic claims but contain ingredients that would not be permitted in certified organic products.

The membership charity and certification body commissioned a survey of 1000 women aged 18-65.

It found that 76% felt misled by labelling that marked some products as “organic” when they were told the products were not certified as organic, and contained some ingredients that wouldn’t be permitted under organic standards.

A string of beauty brands, including Boots, Dr Organic and Faith in Nature, have been accused of “greenwashing” by The Soil Association and other organic product campaigners.

The research produced a league table of health and beauty products with labels that suggest to consumers that they are wholly or mainly organic yet are not independently certified. The list even included some brands with the word “organic” in their name. 

Two Dr Organic products and one product from The Organic Pharmacy made the list. 72% of the respondents said they would lose trust in a beauty brand that made misleading claims about being organic. 

69% said they believed that this sort of misleading advertising should be against the law, though all products used in the research carry legal labelling and ingredients.

“This is the tip of the iceberg”, said Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett. “The labels on products we encountered were littered with confusing terms. Our consumer research shows that it is very difficult for consumers to know they are making the right choice when doing their shopping.”

The Soil Association’s Come Clean About Beauty campaign is calling on consumers to demand that brands come clean about their organic and natural claims. Sign the petition at soilassociation.org/comecleanaboutbeauty