Conventional wisdom holds that seeing "natural" and “organic" on product labels somehow means the companies selling those goods are using better, safer ingredients. However, these words often offer a false promise to consumers and the planet.
For instance, "natural," which is a relatively broad word, has no concrete, recognized definition in the industry, and it isn’t currently regulated. The federal agencies that oversee the sale and advertising of cosmetics, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), still have not formally defined this term as it applies to cosmetic products.
Despite this, cosmetic makers often tout natural ingredients, implying that they are less polluting and therefore better for the environment. On the contrary, the “natural" ingredients in personal and skin care products often contribute to pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change.
Take palm oil, for example. This widely used vegetable oil is present in more than half of all packaged products sold in the United States and 70 percent of cosmetics, including shampoo and conditioner, makeup, skin care products, toothpaste, and sunscreen. Companies use palm oil in these products for its many desirable properties, including vitamin E content, texture-boosting fatty acids, and natural alcohols …