How To Spot Greenwashing In The Beauty Industry

Being aware of and avoiding greenwashing brings us one step closer to a happier, cleaner planet

Photo by Monstera Production / Pexels

Today, more people than ever before are actively trying to incorporate more sustainable and environmentally friendly products into their skincare and beauty routines.

However, big beauty companies have found another way to make our path to sustainability even harder, and it’s called ‘greenwashing’. 

What Is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is an advertising and marketing tactic that companies use to persuade consumers that their products, goals and policies are sustainable and safe for the environment. Greenwashing is rampant in the beauty industry, with many companies covering their products with vague or completely false claims such as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘organic’.

It can be difficult to figure out which brands are genuinely making a positive impact on the planet and which ones are just paying lip service to the ever-rising popularity of sustainable shopping, because as of yet there are barely any regulations in place regarding marketing sustainability.

A study carried out by the European Commission and National Consumer authorities in 2021 discovered that over 50% of the businesses they reviewed were making baseless claims about the sustainability of their products. 

However, it is possible to recognise greenwashing in the beauty industry. Here are a few things to look out for, so you can avoid brands that practise greenwashing and instead choose companies that put their money where their mouth is.

What To Look Out For 


When looking for evidence that backs up a company’s claims about sustainability, a good start is to look for any certifications on their products and website. A company that is actually adhering to adequate sustainability standards will more often than not have at least one certification to prove that, if not more. Examples of these are the B Corp Certification, Leaping Bunny, EU Organic Logo and Climate Partner

Photo by Monstera Production / Pexels

Check The Ingredients

Even with certifications, ‘eco-friendly’ products, particularly those within the beauty and care industry, can still contain ingredients that can be very harmful to the environment and your own body. Avoid any ingredient that ends with ‘sulphate’ and ‘paraben’, as well as ingredients derived from animals. Even products that claim to be free of these ingredients can still sneak them in somewhere, so it’s important to research what ingredients you don’t want in the products you buy.  

Look Out For Vague Terms And Promises

Companies that engage in greenwashing often cover their products in whimsy and vague phrases like ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘green’, but what does that actually mean? If you find these empty promises everywhere on a company’s product or website, but there’s no explanation as to what they mean, they are more than likely lying. If a company is genuinely striving to better the environment through their policies and practices, they will show you the evidence clearly. Transparency is key when it comes to sustainable shopping, and many companies will dedicate an entire page on their website to explaining why the production and use of their products are safe for the planet. 

  • Look Into Parent Companies

Most brands are owned by larger companies, and although a smaller brand might meet the standards of sustainability, its parent company might be completely different. For example, a makeup line might not practise animal-testing, and therefore can be classed as cruelty-free, but the larger company that owns that brand might not have the same policies against animal cruelty. If you want to completely avoid giving money to companies that are harming the environment, remember to do some research into a brand’s parent company. 

  • Support Small Businesses

Shopping at smaller and local businesses is great for sustainability in a lot of ways, and smaller businesses are less likely to greenwash because their scale of production is much smaller. This means the packaging and shipping process is probably less harmful to the environment. Also, smaller beauty brands tend to have fewer ingredients in their products. However, it is still important to do the research on every brand that advertises sustainability. Here are a few Irish brands that are small but mighty on the real sustainability front. 

Irish Brands That Genuinely Promote Sustainability

Modern Botany

Modern Botany is a skincare and fragrance line that incorporates nature into its products and offers a range of beauty and care essentials including natural deodorant. The brand holds multiple certifications to prove that it is committed to becoming more sustainable and giving back to the planet. Check out their website here.


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The Clean Beauty Edit 

The Clean Beauty Edit is a cosmetic and skincare retailer based in Dublin that picks out and sells only sustainable, vegan and safe products from a variety of brands. For anyone who wants to get into sustainable shopping, their website is a great start.

The Nature Of Things

The Nature Of Things is an Irish essential oil brand that not only offers beautiful oils and diffusers, but is also centred around sustainability. As mentioned before, transparency is so important when avoiding greenwashing, and this brand provided a page on their website that details their certifications and a lot more information on their sustainability goals and practices. We love to see it!

Being aware of and avoiding greenwashing brings us one step closer to a happier, cleaner planet, as it pushes companies to practise what they preach and make an effort to benefit the environment, while at the same time promoting brands that really do make the world a better place. 

Words by Aicha Chalouche