Greenwashing Beauty Brands

Is Kiehl’s Really Natural Or Are they Greenwashing?

By August 12, 2015 63 Comments

As I was walked past this sign in New York City, I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Kiehl’s is marketing their brand and their products as natural. I’d say that’s a pretty far cry from the truth.

If you go to Google, this is what you’ll see as their brand description:

 

While Kiehl’s didn’t originally make my first list of 22 Greenwashing Brands, it’s definitely going to earn a place on the next list.

Greenwashing: when a brand makes trumped up claims about how natural, organic or eco their formulas are, and what’s in the bottle doesn’t match up.

Is Kiehl’s Really Natural Though?

Let’s just look at this one product, Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, to get an idea of how not-natural this brand really is.

 

First if you go to Kiehl’s website and click on the product’s ingredient tab you’ll see a lovely description of three botanical ingredients, but nothing else. That’s already a tell-tale sign that something fishy is up.

I think Kiehl’s doesn’t disclose their ingredients on their website because if they did you might gasp and run for the hills.

Lucky for you I found the full list and have posted it below. Now let’s review…

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado Ingredients:
Water, Shea Butter, Butylene Glycol, Tridecyl Stearate, Isodecyl Salicylate, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Avocado Oil, Isocetyl Stearoyl Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Dipentaerythrityl Hexacaprylate/Hexacaprate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Magnesium Sulfate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium PCA, Ozokerite, Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Isopropyl Palmitate, Copper PCA, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Zea Mays/Corn Oil, CI75130/Beta-Carotene.

Avocado oil is the 9th ingredient listed, which means you aren’t getting much in the formula.

Plus, I counted 4 parabens, among other non-natural chemicals I’m not excited to see. Like the highly skin irritating/neurotoxin Phenoxyethanol.

Me thinks Kiehl’s is doing a bit of greenwashing! Don’t you agree?

Their product information video shows a woman, in a lab coat (super authoritative) with a huge amount of makeup on talking about how you can see that the cream contains “naturally-derived avocado” by the green color of the cream.

Wait a second, back up…

Bogus Ingredient Virtues

Any plant-based ingredient that’s naturally derived is basically a synthetic chemical and no longer the wonderful botanical it once was.

Instead, “naturally derived” is a way of getting cheap, stable chemicals into a formula and charging the customer more for their perceived value.

Saying the green color is an indicator that the product has (synthetic) avocado oil in it, is just bogus.

However there is a colorant in the formula. You’ll see it as beta carotene, the last ingredient.

If you go to Kiehl’s product page, it extolls the virtues of beta carotene as an antioxidant.

Chances are if it’s the last item listed in the formula, the percentage of it is so minimal it is essentially ineffective!

I will give them a minor amount of credit for mentioning that it is used impart color also.

Just for an added bit of hilarity I had to share their “Kiehl’s Insider Tip” for applying the eye cream:
“Tap delicately around eye area until you feel the quick-burst release of hydration.”

Oh come on!

Every eye cream pretty much can do that. It’s not that they are saying anything wrong, but it just continues to prove that their copy writers may be getting a bit overzealous in their sales verbiage.

Does Kiehl’s Test On Animals? Yes they do.

We might as well just lay it on the line right now that Kiehl’s isn’t technically cruelty-free. Though they don’t profess to be. So while that’s not lying, it does kind of suck.

According to PETA, Kiehl’s (owned by L’Oreal) is still testing on animals.

I couldn’t find any official Kiehl’s animal testing policy, but L’Oreal says:

L’Oréal no longer tests on animals any of its products or any of its ingredients, anywhere in the world. Nor does L’Oréal delegate this task to others. An exception could only be made if regulatory authorities demanded it for safety or regulatory purposes.

Pay special attention to that last line – it’s the trickiest.

I wrote an exposé about the companies like L’Oreal who are still conceding to animal testing in order to sell in China.

Read: China’s Demand for Animal Testing in Cosmetics and the Brands That Are Giving In

Charity and Recycling Initiatives: AKA Redemption of Sins

Kiehl’s does claim to support numerous worthy causes. They also have a thriving recycle rewards program for customers to earn store credit.

That’s all commendable, but does it make us turn a blind eye to the rather deceptive marketing practices? For me, not so much.

Need more proof?

I get it, maybe you think that one eye cream is not a good representation of the entire brand.

So here are the ingredients for a few more randomly selected products. I was going to highlight all the chemicals I don’t thing are great, but um, I’d pretty much be highlighting the entire list.

Now you look at them and decide for yourself.

(Use our Toxic Ingredient Glossary to help you along.)

Ingredients for Ultra Facial Cleanser, For All Skin Types

Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Acrylate Copolymer, PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Chloride, Pentylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Distearyl Ether, Behenyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Laureth-2, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Sodium Methylparaben, Squalane, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil

Ingredients for Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream

Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Squalane, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Cera Alba/Beeswax, Glyceryl Stearate, Nylon-12, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, PEG-20 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Clophenesin, Caffeine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Calcium PCA, Acrylates Copolymer, Adenosine, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphinganine, Copper PCA, Alteromonas Ferment Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract.

Ingredients for Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30

 Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 7%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 5% Inactive Ingredients: Water, Propylene Glycol, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glycerin, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Squalene, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitan Oleate, Caprylyl Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Beeswax, Tocopherol, Disodium EDTA, Stearic Acid, Myristyl Alcohol, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil.

A truly natural and organic Avocado Eye Cream To Try

Whenever I write these posts, I get comments asking what people should buy instead. So in anticipation of that this time, here’s a great alternative: Nourish Organic Renewing and Cooling Eye CreamNourish-Organic-Renewing-Cooling-EyeTreatmentWhat’s better than the fully disclosed ingredient list of real botanicals?

  • It’s USDA Organic certified
  • It’s cruelty-free with no animal testing
  • It costs LESS than Kiehl’s eye cream

Basically this organic eye cream is a no-brainer swap out!

So let’s hear from you…were you surprised to learn about Kiehl’s deceptive natural claims and greenwashing? Will you make different choices because of it? Let us know in the comments below!

My disclaimer: The information presented is my opinion based on *a lot* of research. When a company gives incredibly strong suggestions to the consumer that they are green/natural (through packaging ploys, sales material, or even making full ingredient lists hard to find), I take issue. You might disagree with my perspective on what constitutes greenwashing. That’s cool. There’s no real definition for it anyway. I just ask that keep your comments classy and constructive. Do your own research on each brand’s ingredients and decide for yourself what is good enough for you. This series is not as much about shaming as it is about bringing to light subjects allowing us to be more informed consumers and hopefully encourage brands to be more truthful in their marketing practices and formulations.

Kristen Arnett

Author Kristen Arnett

A makeup artist and green beauty educator helping you find the very best safe cosmetics. Teaching pro secrets for enhancing your natural beauty at every age, so you can be empowered to make healthier choices, and radiate confidence every day.

More posts by Kristen Arnett

Join the discussion 63 Comments

  • Alma says:

    I used to work for Kiehls as well and I, as well as almost all of my co-workers, had a very hard time buying into the company claims. First of all, the whole China/testing on animals thing always bothered us, as Kiehl’s products ARE sold in China. By law, beauty products must be tested on animals in China (the last time I checked). Therefore, Kiehl’s tests on animals because they ALLOW their products to be tested on animals. Think of it this way, if I refuse to hit my child, profess to not hit my child, but let another person hit my child, that makes me a bad mother!

    Second, Kiehl’s “supports” many charities. However, I remember reading the fine print of these charity events and Kiehl’s would already have a pre-determined amount that they would donate to the charity, for example, $25k nationally. We would market an old product (like the Avocado Eye Cream) with charity stickers slapped on them. Ultimately, the “charity” event was used as a promotional tool to drive traffic to the store and online, thus increasing overall sales. Because don’t forget, we had to sample/sell other products as well.

    Third, the recycling program was a joke. Maybe some stores managed their recycling program well, but we often had a hard time getting our empty containers picked up by the authorized company. Therefore, the manager would just toss bags and bags of empty containers into the garbage just to get them out of the store. This hurt, as some customers were so proud to have saved all their empty containers and really thought they were making a difference.

    Lastly, we were always instructed to list the “natural” ingredients, even though most of those “natural” ingredients were near last on the list. For example, we would market Rosa Arctica as a cream that would “bring old tired dry skin back to life” because the “active ingredient”, rosa arctica flower, is known to live up to 2 years without water, and magically survive. However, there is a big difference between a flower and human skin. Oh, also, rosa arctica isn’t even a flower, it was made up. It is based on some rare flower that grows in harsh conditions in Europe. The main ingredient is shea butter if I remember correctly. Anyways, I still use some of their products and I believe that they do have some good products, but I use them because they were free for me, and I won’t re-buy them just because of the animal testing stuff, and the fact that there seems to be a price increase every few months. I believe everyone has the right to know what they are putting on their skin and should be able to make their own informed decisions. Unfortunately, many businesses, not just Kiehl’s, go out of their way to prevent their customers from being informed.

  • Lily says:

    Than you so much for this article.

    I ordered from Kiehls yesterday after a blogger whom i follow on Instagram talked about a specific face moisturizer and recommended for everyone to buy. She usually has good advice, so i went ahead and ordered, trusting her word. I normally research everything before purchasing but i was too excited this time. My fault.
    I try to use all natural products and always make sure they are cruelty free. After purchasing from Kiehls, i kept getting a bad feeling about this company. So i went ahead and researched and found your article, along with many others.
    I called Kiehls so i can cancel my order ASAP. It had only been one day and the status of my order showed that it was still “processing.” I chatted with someone online and they were no help. They basically said it was too late even though the item had not shipped. I went ahead and called to speak to someone higher in position and they said the same thing. And i cannot return it in store for my full refund. Not only are they lying about their natural products, but they make it absolutely difficult for someone to cancel or return an item.
    i’ll eventually get my refund back after a few weeks. I’m just glad i had a chance to find this article and others before i applied any of their products on my face.

    • asya says:

      I really dont believe on organic products unless i am the one who picked it up from the trees and got extract from it. i honestly say that kiehls is one of the oldest company worldwide proven effective. i felt so bad that you need to say bad things to other company that has been around for 160 years just to sell your own products. Not all skincare will be perfect for your skin type, if you think you can plant your own coconut trees and climb to pick it then u can say you are fully organic. i bet if you ever know how to make your own coconut oil. i felt so bad on this kind of articles because all over in my family are using kiehls and we never have reactions, it is actually the best products we ever had. i am asian and i know how to extract our own skincare. but of course we dont have all the extracts we need so if one skincare brands using those natural extracts why not using it. we have our own coconut trees and we have our very own natural coconut oils and personally i am the one whose making it, but never ever i say bad to another brands just to build up myself. i love kiehls, proven effective, that you will never ever get that to another brands. Good luck on selling of your organic brands- and be nice to other products that has been here before you.

      • B says:

        To be fair, nowhere has she tried to “take down” Khiels. She has merely stated what ingredients are in the products, which are PROVEN to not be good for you.

        • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

          😉 Indeed! Everyone can look at the ingredients and make their own choices as to whether or not the brand properly represents themselves and they want to use what’s inside. I’m just pulling back the veil a bit. Thanks for your comment!

          • Sam says:

            I get what she means. Obviously not everything is going to be natural. No matter how “Organic” you call something it never will be because you know what? They grow organic and GMO foods right beside each other. Furthermore the water from the GMO plants enters that of the organic. There’s no helping this. Quit living your life in delusion.

  • Maria says:

    I happened upon your site and article. Coincidentally, I worked at Kiehl’s for many years. I’m glad to see you call them out for their ingredients. I believe the myth about their products being “natural” started decades ago, but they’ve done nothing to put an end to the myth. Rather, we were instructed (trained) to respond to customer inquiries that, “Kiehl’s has always been a blend of science and nature.” I never had a customer walk out after that statement. Mostly, women who had challenging health situations and people who were truly natural-ingredients-only were the only people who left after reading some labels. I always quietly steered concerned and pregnant customers away from Kiehl’s. … At one point, they had four certified organic products, but they were discontinued after several years. Anyway, most of their “classic” products are made with older formulas (L’Oreal and, perhaps, Kiehl’s) that, I guess because they’re classics, don’t get updated with better quality ingredients. … The entire time I worked with Kiehl’s, I only used the few products that weren’t loaded with chemicals and I have only ever recommended those few products to friends and family.

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Wow! That is a powerful story/testimonial. What a fascinating perspective from someone who saw the history from the inside. Thank you so much for sharing that here, Maria!

  • someone says:

    holy gosh, I love this article so much! fially, truth is spoken. thanks for your time!

  • Cedarmoss says:

    Hi there, I checked out the product you suggested: “Renewing and Cooling Eye Treatment Cream” by Nourish Organic. As a natural and organic product formulator, I carefully reviewed all ingredients and found no (real and actual) preservative. This would be necessary as this product is an emulsion. I can only conclude that this company is doing their own version of greenwashing by not listing all functional ingredients.

    • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

      Another reader commented similarly about this product so I reached out directly to the CEO and his response is as follows:

      Our Eye product contains Autolyzed Yeast as a preservative against bacteria and mold. We have done extensive testing of it in multiple preservative challenge tests and it has always passed with flying colors. It is also safe for use around the eye area.
      Hope that helps!
      Rob Robillard
      CEO — Sensible Organics/Nourish Organic

  • Katie says:

    Kiehl’s do not claim to be 100% natural. They state that they “combine natural ingredients with scientific innovation”. They also DO NOT test on animals and never have! L’oreal however used to test on animals but haven’t since the 80”s. Please bare in mind Kiehl”s are their own company and still create their products in their own labs. Yes, they are under the L’Oréal “umbrella” but they are still a company within their own right. Kiehl”s DO NOT support animal testing either and certainly do not send products over to China for testing. When products get sent to China for distribution, the authorities (government) have them tested on animals before they allow them to be sold in their country.
    As for companies that are organic, let me tell you. A product only has to contain 10%organic ingredients to be legally marketed as organic.

    • asya says:

      well said kathy, this kind of articles are just paid by the company that paying them, people trying to ruin other company to build theirs..

  • Melody says:

    Hi Kristen!

    FIRST OFF… I LOVE your hair/style! SO cute!

    Of course, more to the point… 😉
    I have been using a line by the name of Just Natural Skincare.com. They talk A LOT on their site about HEALTHY ingredients and do a great job of both listing and analyzing each one. I’ve actually learned a lot about healthy ingredients since I discovered them. BUT nowhere do they list/advertise that they are ‘Organic’ and I wonder if I should be concerned about that. Have you done any research on this line? I really love their products and their philosophy. Reading your article (thank you! by the way) I’m afraid of what I COULD find out.
    I ALSO LOVE LOVE LOVE Juice Beauty products and they get 1-2 marks on the EWG.org site.

    But back to Kiehl’s.. I thought (because of their successful ‘natural’ advertising) that I’d give them a try. I’ve been using their ‘Midnight Recovery Concentrate’ and their ‘Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution’ for a few weeks now. My skin is super soft, but no difference/results yet on these damn dark spots. THANK YOU for your article! I will stop using them and will not go back to Kiehl’s.

    From someone that REALLY appreciates the information you provide (it’s exhausting doing the necessary homework to find TRULY natural/organic personal products!)

    Melody in Texas

  • Riley says:

    Hi! Thank you for this post! I recently started using Kiehl products. I have very oily skin, and up until recently was relying on drug store Neutrogena oil-free wash and a prescription topical cream. My skin is clear, but it always seemed oily and never had that glow.

    I’ve been using a few products from Kiehls —
    Ultra facial cleanser
    Midnight recovery concentrate, and
    Daily reviving concentrate.

    The Ultra facial cleanser has been great. My face isn’t as oily, and still clear. I never thought I’d be putting oil on my oily face, but my face is fresh and dewy after putting the Midnight recovery concentrate on at night, and they advertise the Daily reviving concentrate to create a barrier to toxins.

    I’ve been having great results with the products. My skin looks and feels wonderful right now. But after reading your article I’m worried about the shady marketing and lack of natural ingredients. I really like the idea of using natural products, especially with news of all the damage certain chemicals can do to your body.

    Could you recommend an alternative natural brand for cleansers and oil serums? And is there a lot of risk with me continuing to use these products if they’re working well for me?

    Sorry for the ramblings.

    I enjoyed reading your article!!! Thank you so much!

    • Riley says:

      Could you recommend an alternative natural brand for cleansers and oil serums? And is there a lot of risk with me continuing to use these products if they’re working well for me?

      • Riley says:

        Can someone give me some feedback on my above-mentioned quandaries. I’d really appreciate it!

        • Anniken says:

          I just love love love the products from “La bella figura Beauty” . They are pricey, but last long ??

        • Kerry says:

          Beautycounter.
          A social mission based, certified B Corporation. Our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone, I was on Capitol Hill in May as part of a delegation Beautycounter sent to speak to senators and staffers about getting more health protective legislation in place. Products are gorgeous. safe and high performing. It’s the real deal, time for change!
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZfV91Ybmnc

        • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

          Hi Riley,
          Have you looked through the articles on our site? There are tons of recommendations to consider. If you are looking for personal advice, then you can set up an appointment with one a leading esthetician through our virtual beauty consultations.

      • asya says:

        midnight recovery concentrate, i personally use those. and powerful strength line reducing concentrate that has 12.5 vit c

  • […] full ingredient list on their website (I like to know what I use for my face ad body!) and I read this article so, Kiehl’s for me is off the […]

  • […] viņu kosmētikai, krēmiem sastāvu mājaslapā (man patīk zināt, ko es lietoju!) un izlasīju šo rakstu (angļu val) un uzzināju nedaudz vairāk, sapratu, ka Kiehl’s produkti manu kosmētikas plauktu […]

  • Madara says:

    Thank you for writing this post. It is so hard these days to really understand by myselft which beauty brands are good (green) to go and which are not. That’s why I go to Google and find posts like these that are very helpful. 🙂 And I was very pleasedto find out, that this article was quite fresh (Aug, 2015). I will stick around and see what else you have to say about other products and in general. 🙂
    Have a great day,
    Madara
    http://lookforsmile.com

  • GG says:

    Kristin,
    So look forward to your articles and or your emails! They are so informative and need to reach many, many more who do not even realize what they are putting on their face and or body.

    As for the comments from “Ray” in this extremely informative article……. it makes me wonder why he was responding for his wife; and she did not. Interesting don’t you think. And his comments about the hype on parabens….. obviously misinformed. As for Kiehls; I “used to” think their products were safe as I am sure did many others. Thanks to your Toxic Ingredient listing and website, I am much more knowledgeable. Thank you!!

  • Celia says:

    Don’t pay attention to these kinds of comments, change is hard to achieve but if you keep defending the truth things will eventually fall into place. I also believe that businesses that lie about their products are desperate to recover the ever-growing market they are loosing and the only way we can defend ourselves is being more educated and educating everyone else so they don’t fall into their trap.
    I really love and admire your work, please don’t let people like Ray discourage you. I found this analysis on ingredients from a product from Kiel’s. Definitely not natural and definitely not safe.

    http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/514708/Kiehl%27s_Actively_Correcting_%26_Beautifying_BB_Cream%2C_SPF_50/

  • Carla says:

    I think you are doing a fabulous job at educating your subscribers. I too believe Kiehl’s isn’t the best choice to make when buying Natural products. Too many filler ingredients and I’ve always been a firm believer in reading the first 5 ingredients on a product to really see what you are getting when you spend money on something.

    Pay no mind to “Ray” and please continue to do what you do!!!

    I learn so much for your hard work and I’m grateful for the information!

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Alright, Carla, I’m now taking your advice. You are absolutely right on the first 5 ingredients thing. I also tend to look at the last 4 just for fun. Even in small percentages, that’s where the nasties often hide. Thank you!!!!

    • Irv says:

      Nettles are a natural product. Should we rub those on our faces ???!!!

      • Kristen Arnett's GBT says:

        You may have a point, but let’s be kind to each other in our communications. This site promotes *safe* naturals as more ideal than harsh synthetics.

  • Kristin,

    I think you are doing a wonderful thing for people with your well researched and truthful articles. Many people don’t take the time to look at ingredients or be skeptical of why a brand would call a product “natural”, when really all that is actually “natural” in the product is the word “natural” in the name of the product.

    This is not a scaremongering article, if you have any sense. Keep up the good work!

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Denise! So great to see this comment from you and that you really understand where I’m coming from. I appreciate your support and hope you are also doing well, sister!

  • Anniken says:

    Dear Green Beauty Team!

    I can see why you got pissed of Ray’s comment.
    But I think Ray’s opinions and words speak for itself. Many people find the truth too hard to handle. Changing routines is one thing, changing values is completely different and a lot more demanding.
    If people want to close their eyes let them.
    We will not give them the satisfaction of seeing the green community being pissed or insulted.
    We will silence them with our knowledge and passion for clean and healthy beauty and living.
    Keep up the good work
    U go girl
    Greetings from Norway

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Hello Norwegian Anniken! I love that you are reading this all the way across the pond. You are definitely on to something when people confront changing or adapting themselves to a new value system – often it’s just not possible. We will keep going with folks like you helping spread the word and lending your energy to the cause, and I know it will show itself to be a cause of value. 🙂

  • Tanja says:

    I love all of your articles, they are a fantastic source of information and it has changed my skin for the better. I totally disagree with Ray and I look forward to more of your informative articles.

    Thank you so much for putting so much effort and fantastic information.

    Much love!

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Oh Tanja! That means so much to me. Thank you for taking the time to write that. It helps keep the wheels going over here.

  • Ray says:

    My wife asked me to do a quick search for Kiehl’s products reviews as she heard good comments from customers. Most Youtube reviews are very positive with customer really appreciating the products. Even Alpha M recommends the products.

    It all seems “legit” and Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehls really seems to cares about customers.

    Your article wildly generalizes using your nonsensical “greenwashing” mantra to bash a legitimate company trying hard to provide a natural, not organic, set of products for customers with different needs. As far as the hype and misinformation about Parabens go please read the comments from: musicalhouses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/kiehls-ultra-facial-cream-review-and.html

    I hope Kiehl’s or @KiehlsPrez, have a word with you about this self serving article. This is tantamount to scaremongering and pretty irresponsible in my view.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      This article has nothing to do with product performance, Ray. It addresses the way they market their products as being natural or somehow greener than they actually are. Just because you don’t like or agree with my take on their marketing practices vs. their ingredient labels, I think your general assumption about the motive behind this article as being self-serving, irresponsible or anything else is also unfounded. There will always be differing points, data, and opinions. This isn’t about bashing as it is bringing to light the falsehoods of marketing practices so consumers can make an informed choice at the store. So go ahead and buy tubs of Kiehl’s if you want – it’s totally your choice.

      P.S. Research on parabens has been updated since the “expert” you referred to made her case…who from what I can tell isn’t a scientist or doctor. So essentially she’s just interpreting data based on what made sense to her – but it doesn’t make her or you more correct.

    • Cinzia says:

      Thank you Green Beauty Team for helping educating consumers to make safer choices! I certainly did not know in my teens and twenties that the word “natural” or “all natural” on labels is not regulated and therefore does not guarantee that the product contains 100% naturally derived and SAFE ingredients. In fact, I learned only years later that my hair color contained very toxic chemicals despite carrying an all natural label, that my daughter’s lipstick contained aluminum despite carrying an All Natural label, Burt’s Bees is the brand btw, that my organic shampoo and conditioner by Organix and my “all natural” deodorant and detergents contained controversial ingredients, so unfortunately we really need to create more awareness to protect consumers.

      • Green Beauty Team says:

        Ah Cinzia, it is a very hard road to walk sometimes because of the deception and I truly hope we are making your life easier. Yes, not all natural is safe, but you are making amazing steps in the right direction!

    • Kerri says:

      Keep on doing what you you do Kristen! To me it seems quite obvious that “Ray” is in some way affiliated with Kiehl’s. Why didn’t his “wife” just reply? I can’t imagine many husband’s debating about eye cream for their wife’s let alone looking up ingredients in them.
      You weren’t “bashing” the company at all as Ray stated. It’s called transparency Ray. Kiehl’s chose to use the wording “natural” and it’s their strategy along with the rest of many companies, and not in just beauty products. Most people don’t read the ingredients, so companies rely on the few words they can splash across the front of a box or in this case a jar of eye cream to sell their products.

      As far as the “hype” and “misinformation” about paraben’s, as Ray states, just do a google search for products with no paraben’s and see how many come up. Hundreds Ray, hundreds! If there is no “hype” around parabens how come common brands sold at Target, Walgreens etc. tout “no parabens” on the front labels of their products? Because paraben dangers are commonly known of now. It’s much more than just paraben’s going on in this ingredient list, Ray.

      So Kristen PLEASE continue to move forward with your articles! Don’t let comments like Ray’s sway you! I’m looking forward to your new content for 2016!!

      • Green Beauty Team says:

        Thank you so much, Kerri!!! I really appreciate your words of kindness so much. Yeah, it seems like there might be an ulterior motive with his comment. I’m so glad people like you get it and support this site. It really does help me dream bigger for 2016!!

    • Josie says:

      Hey Ray!

      Sounds like you have shares in the company. It’s disappointing that you didn’t even site credible sources in your argument. Ewg.org is one the best sources for green reviews and Kiehls ranks 5 out of 10, being moderately hazardous. To find clean products, perhaps you should check into EWG instead of siting Youtube and Musicalhouses.blogspot. There are so many wonderful choices out there that Kristen beautifully introduces! Thank you GreenBeauty for your well researched reviews and genuine care for your readers!

    • Erica says:

      I agree with you I’ve been using kiehls for 20 years and I must say it works I’m 43with beautiful skin I get compliments every day about my skin. Kiehls is the real deal and they stand behind their products I have tried new products from kiehls that didn’t work for me and I sometimes use almost half and they will give you 100% of your money back I love kiehls and I will always recommend them to anyone who ask what I use on my face

  • Snap! We should not allow large companies to claim #GreenBeauty while small companies really do promote #GreenBeauty with amazing products!

    Nyla Naturals – promoting #GreenBeauty!

  • Betty says:

    Sad to learn about this, as well as the other companies you have exposed, but it’s a much appreciated reality check. I wish these companies wouldn’t be so deceptive, just be real with us, obviously, we end up finding out! Thanks for doing what you do to keep the consumers informed! As someone who is looking for the best skincare routine for me in a sea of so many choices, it’s good to have this kind of information.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Hi Betty! I know it IS sad. I’m glad though that you are reading my site, and are making sure you are informed so you can be healthy and help others too!! xo

  • Arnoldo Beals says:

    Leading international certifiers PETA and Leaping Bunny have no information concerning this company’s use of animal testing. Show all 1 products by Kiehl’s.

  • Monique Cook says:

    Basically, when I look for natural beauty products (that aren’t really natural), I just look for one ingredient — propylene glycol. All Greenwashed products have it, at least from my experience. If it has that, it will have other toxic stuff as well.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      That is a REALLY good point, Monique! I agree with you – and I’ll add in synthetic fragrance to the red flags I look for.

  • venus says:

    Excellent job in exposing Kiehl’s…It is truly a green tyrant to be added to the other green tyrants!
    They break every green rule in the book, and they need to stay out of the green marketplace. Made me think of a Kiehl’s shop just a few doors down from one of Neal’s Yard Remedies S. London shops, where I got all my beautycare in the days when I was living near Clapham Junction, and even at the time, (’08), I thought the close proximity location (of Kiehl’s) to Neal’s Yard’s shop to be in conflict, to say the least, in that everybody in the UK knows Neal’s Yard Remedies to be the ultimate green brand; which, I am happy to say, it is still a big part of my life to this day…Health & Beauty Is Happiness!

  • MV says:

    Hi beautiful. Without entering in any debate, (as this is not the medium for it) but remaining on the side of transparency and without trying to put anyone on the spot, like I said there are no preservatives on the suggested product.

    Autolysed (not Autolyzed) Yeast, better referred to as Yeast Autolysate, isn’t a preservative nor should be used for that purpose. There is no scientific research I could find anywhere to prove it actually prevents bacterial or mold contamination. If anything I found scientific research proving it will do exactly the opposite, it will create the perfect ground for bacteria to grow and thrive (please see the links I’ve provided).

    Autolysed Yeast is used as a food flavor enhancer in the food industry as it has MSG like qualities. It provides the “meat” taste on some meatless foods. It’s also used in baking in particular bread as a leavening agent, and as a nutrient for micro-organisms in some fermentation processes in the wine and beer industries. In the cosmetics industry it’s used as a conditioner in both hair and skin products as it is rich in vitamins, especially those belonging to the B complex but must be accompanied by a strong set of preservatives to prevent pathogens from freely growing in emulsions.

    http://www.yeastextract.info/public/documents/yeast-products/autolysed_yeast.pdf
    http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/fluka/73145?lang=en&region=US
    http://himedialabs.com/TD/RM194.pdf
    http://jb.asm.org/content/4/2/183.full.pdf

    Any laboratory tests would have concluded this ingredient doesn’t prevent any bacterial and mold growth nor can be safely used as a preservative in cosmetics or food industries.

    I hope my response isn’t misconstrued. Just like greenwashing is a huge problem in our industry so is the lack of proper preservation systems in water based products which seems to be on the rise lately.

    Best! xo

  • Thank you yet again for another informative and useful article Kristen. I too have been fooled in the past by Kiehls, but no more, thanks to you! I am still using the products you recommended and absolutely love them – can’t wait to do another session with you soon!

  • Luke Shavak says:

    As I wrote about in my book ‘Mummy Why Is There Petrol In Our Shampoo?’ greenwashing is so ripe in the personal care/cosmetic industry. It’s immoral and unethical but it’s not illegal. The most concerning thing about all of it is that some of these ingredients cause cancer and muck around the endocrine system plus more! Look for the logos! Australian certified organic is a quality logo you can trust in Australia. Thorough article Kristen.

  • Alice says:

    A friend of mine – has asked me how good direct mail skin care line Nerium is? Do you guys have any info? I told her to go to Skin Deep site – but she said it wasn’t listed. I thought they listed everything.

  • Fran Belfor says:

    Phenomenal. Thank you!

  • Mirjam says:

    I too once fell for the claims of Kiehls, thinking I was using good (but expensive) products. I have since read “No More Dirty Looks” and smartened up. Now I read the ingredientlist of every single product I buy (even if I have bought it before in case they have changed it, which often happens) and tend to stick to natural oils for my skincare and bodycare (organic, of course). It has made such a difference to my skin. Some people in stores think I am crazy, taking my time to read every single ingredientlist, but I don’t care. Here in Holland especially people still don’t realize the crap they are putting on their faces and body everyday. We rely on a few good bloggers to inform us, and people like you! So thank you for all your work and the inspiration you give me!

  • Amy Baker says:

    Great topic. Green washing is going on more than ever within the personal care industry. Kiehl’s is not the only one guilty of this as you have previously pointed out. I would recommend everyone check their skincare products against the Environmental Working Groups skin deep database which rates entire products for toxic chemicals or you can enter specific ingredients to get toxicity rates.

  • MV says:

    Always great to read your articles. Two points that raised my eyebrows. The statement from kiehls. They claim the reason the lotion is green is because of the avocado oil. That couldn’t be more bogus and misleading, can I say straight up liars? Avocado oil, even though it has a greenish tint to it (hemp oil is even darker green) in an emulsion (which is what a lotion is) won’t ever impart any color, as the emulsifiers would always overpower any oil coloration, without mentioning oils are always added to emulsion in such small amounts (as seen in the list of ingredients). The reason that lotion is green in color is because of the Copper PCA listed among the ingredients (http://www.upichem.com/products/copper-pca-pyrrolidone-carboxylic-acid/) , which it’s being proven to be toxic even though the EWG has not much information on it http://www.goodguide.com/ingredients/166307-copper-pca-ingredient-information-reviews

    The other point that really raised a concern at least for me was your product recommendation. After reading the list of ingredients I noticed there was an important ingredient or set of important ingredients missing *PRESERVATIVES* . The eye cream contains as the main ingredient Aloe Vera Juice among other water based ingredients. This means water, as aloe vera juice is a smoothie of some sort which contains water, aloe vera along with a set of preservatives. On its own Aloe Vera has a relatively ok shelf life. When it’s combined with other ingredients even if they don’t contain water or no added water is required in the product’s formula, the formulation requires a set of preservatives as the ones already in the aloe vera juice become ineffective at preventing bacterial and mold contamination. Even though the product is certified organic due to the high levels of organic ingredients, it wouldn’t mean either that it’s safe to use, especially around the eyes.

    • Green Beauty Team says:

      Hi MV, I take all of your concerns very seriously too. Glad we are both vibing about the green color – so bogus! The other piece of your comment was regarding the Nourish Organic eye cream I suggested, so I reached out directly to the CEO with your comment and his response is as follows:

      Our Eye product contains Autolyzed Yeast as a preservative against bacteria and mold. We have done extensive testing of it in multiple preservative challenge tests and it has always passed with flying colors. It is also safe for use around the eye area.
      Hope that helps!
      Rob Robillard
      CEO — Sensible Organics/Nourish Organic

      I sure hope that helps lessen any concerns you had. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! xo

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