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If companies market their products as “all natural” or “100% natural,” consumers have a right to take them at their word. That’s the message of four proposed FTC settlements and one just-issued administrative complaint challenging the allegedly deceptive use of those phrases in ads for skincare products, shampoos and styling products, and sunscreens. According to the FTC, the companies pitched their products as “all natural” or “100% natural,” but included synthetic ingredients.

Here’s the scoop about the four settlements:

  • Trans-India Products doing business as ShiKai, markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” on its own site and through national chain drugstores. However, the lotion contains dimethicone, ethyhexyl glycerin, and phenoxyethanol. The gel has phenoxyethanol.
  • Erickson Marketing Group, doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, promotes products – including its “Natural Face Stick” – as “all-natural.”  What’s in the Face Stick? Dimethicone, polyethylene, and other synthetic ingredients.
  • ABS Consumer Products, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, markets haircare products on its own site and on the site of a major retailer. The products have names like “Coconut Shea All Natural Curl Defining Creme” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo,” but in reality they contain a range of synthetic ingredients like polyquaternium-37, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl clycol, and polyquaternium-7.
  • Beyond Coastal advertises that its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30” is “100% natural.” But what's really in it? Dimethicone.

The proposed orders prohibit misrepresentations that a product is all-natural or 100% natural. In addition, the companies can’t misstate the extent to which any product contains natural or synthetic components, can't make misleading claims about ingredients or composition, and can't make deceptive representations about environmental or health benefits. For some claims, the companies will need scientific evidence. 

A complaint against a fifth company – Sausalito-based California Naturel, Inc. – just entered litigation before an Administrative Law Judge. The FTC alleges that California Naturel advertised a sunscreen as “all natural” when it contains dimethicone.

What can other marketers take from the proposed settlements? That “all-natural” or “100% natural” mean just that. If you advertise your product as “all-natural” or “100% natural” and it contains artificial ingredients or chemicals, now is the natural time for a compliance check.

You can file an online comment about the four proposed settlements by May 12, 2016.

 

8 Comments


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Guest
April 12, 2016
We need to read ingredients....
sherry Martin
April 13, 2016
Law requires what ,prison or fine or have them keep f rauding ,witch ones
ibrtlambert
May 26, 2016
if the label is improperly printed then the advertising co can't be blamed.the printers have to explain the method of advertisement.
Erica V
July 02, 2017
If your product "contains...chemicals," you can't advertise it as all-natural? I'd expect such scientifically illiterate statements from marketers, but not on the FTC website. Everything is a chemical, including natural ingredients--most of which are highly processed, thus blurring the distinction between natural and synthetic. Instead of talking about natural vs. synthetic ingredients, we should be educating the public about which ingredients are truly safe vs. which carry risks (and for whom). Here, the natural vs. synthetic distinction is meaningless. And manufacturers and marketers should prefer more meaningful terms like "plant-based," "organic," or "petrochemical free" over meaningless ones like "natural".
S. Joe
September 04, 2020

In reply to by Erica V

Agreed - Water is a chemical. Also, be careful with "organic". Organic is defined as being composed of the base atom of Carbon. The term "organic" means nothing to me other than a marketing term, much like "natural"
Oliver P
August 14, 2017
The word "Natural" even in these times of GMO / Synthetic chemical engineering does not represent a level of safety. Aside from what we are led to believe from some crafty false marketing, it never has. Natural merely identifies the sourcing of ingredients as from Nature. Arsenic for example is "natural" but we can all agree it isn't safe.
pblanton
December 29, 2020

In reply to by Oliver P

I agree with you on that one but there are a lot of different types of ingredients that are natural but are not safe.
Guest
October 16, 2019
It just goes back to buyer beware and you have to research the ingredients. The internet has made that very easy for shoppers, ck the ingredients right there in the aisle. Don't buy their lies, very simple. You can also search products on the EU website. Most products are banned from Europe due to the damage they can cause their people.

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