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Greenwashing Beauty Brands

St. Ives Is Greenwashing: Don’t Fall Prey

By August 17, 20193 Comments

It’s so tempting to buy into the natural claims of St. Ives since they’ve been around for decades as a budget-friendly, drugstore brand. But I hate to tell you, they’ve been doing a lot of greenwashing for a long time.

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

Let’s start by taking a look at what’s on the St. Ives home page.

st ives greenwashing claims

At first glance all this marketing speak about natural plant ingredients would make anyone feel better about choosing them as an effective, natural skincare brand (that’s fun to use too!)

…oh, but wait…

Those perfectly crafted sentences (not the portions I’ve underscored) don’t actually say every product is 100% natural.

They say the products contain 100% natural ingredients…and this, my friends, are where the lies begin!

How St. Ives Is Greenwashing: Beginning with their legendary Apricot Scrub

As a teen, the St. Ives Apricot Scrub was my go-to exfoliator. Even back then the thought of a peachy smelling scrub to banish my teenage acne at an affordable price was highly alluring.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub greenwashing brandI would learn later that the walnut shells were far too rough and creating microtears in my skin only exacerbating the problems…and what I didn’t know then (that I share with you now) are how many other non-natural, skin irritants were in the St. Ives Apricot Scrub.

As my friends at Truth In Aging, aptly warned about the new formula of St. Ives Apricot Scrub:

“…there’s a potent biocide (Methylisothiazolinone) that has been linked to irritation, neurotoxicity, and Alzheimer’s, as well as a multi-purpose ingredient that may be toxic to the skin, immune system, and respiratory tract.

A high dose of synthetic fragrance, the number one cause of contact dermatitis, continues to trick the nose with traces of artificial apricot.

St. Ives also hasn’t been able to let go of perilous PEGs, which can cause severe skin irritation and possibly internal toxicity in the presence of impurities. It is not recommended to use products containing PEGs on broken or damaged skin.”

Note the final sentence above, and remember that a harsh scrub creates micro-tears and breaks the skin’s protective barrier.

Basically, I wouldn’t recommend this product line to anyone, especially a teen with acne!

Current St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub formula ingredients: Water (Aqua, Eau), Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Zea Mays (Corn) Kernel Meal, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetyl Acetate, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Polysorbate 60, Ceteareth-20, Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Fragrance (Parfum), PPG-2 Methyl Ether, Phenethyl Alcohol, Limonene, Linalool, Methylisothiazolinone, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract.

More Ways St. Ives Is Greenwashing

When I saw St. Ives #NatureReset campaign, and images of fresh-faced girls, supported by quotes of believable data about the mental-health benefits of nature, I got truly excited.

I even went so far in my bold imagination of hope and possibility to think this meant they also cared about teen girls’ body health and did a #NatureReset on the ingredients in their products too.


Sadly, the St. Ives family of skincare products boast natural ingredients with crafty marketing language, but they all still contain a fair amount of cheap and synthetic ingredients that I personally wouldn’t put on my skin.

St. Ives is Greenwashing in their latest promotional campaign

St Ives #NatureReset BusThe more I looked into the St. Ives #NatureReset social push, the more I realized they really don’t get it. Or they don’t care.

If what St. Ives is saying is true – that 15 minutes in nature relieves anxiety and promotes mental health – do they have a clue as to what plastic off-gassing (from fake plants) also does to human health – especially the vulnerable hormonal systems of young women?

The plants on their promotional bus tour have to be fake and plastic. Perfect looking oranges and lavender don’t grow in the shade and blossom at the exact same time.

St Ives #NatureReset BusSo did they even consider what that amount of plastic production and off-gassing would do to nature?

And I’m gonna assume that bus filled with plastic plants isn’t solar powered either…

Greenwashing conclusion: Big thumbs down on St. Ives

It’s not just the apricot scrub that has ingredient transparency flaws, that has me saying St. Ives is greenwashing.

It’s fair to say all their products are questionable when it comes to truly being natural. Take a look for yourself — all you have to do is read the “full ingredients” (not the “key ingredients”) they’ve cleverly pushed down on the site and hidden in a toggle tab.

St. Ives products (like so many others on the market, even the green brands) are also packaged in plastic.

So yes, based on all this, I consider St. Ives a greenwashing brand.

What about you?

Leave a comment below (keep it classy and constructive) to share your thoughts.

My friends, we must wake up to the clever marketing schemes. Unfortunately this kind of epic, unethical deceit is totally legal.

If you want to become a consumer who doesn’t get taken advantage of by these inauthentic, greenwashing cosmetics brands doing the money grab at your wallet anymore, I invite you to do one powerful thing.

Educate yourself.

Then educate someone you love about what you learned.

Resources to avoid being greenwashed

Use this site as a resource and share the information.

I have a free resource called the Toss the Toxins Toolkit that can help you identify ingredients to avoid in cosmetics.

If you’re ready to take it one big step further, and stop giving money to corporations that don’t have your best interest at heart, grab a copy of my online course “The Ultimate Natural Beauty Shopping Guide.”

natural green beauty course

Quickly and simply you’ll see how to shop for clean, green beauty – and get the most value from your purchases without harming your health or the planet.

By investing in your knowledge, and taking action, you support brands that are doing good. And when you buy this thoughtfully crafted, concise course, you support my educational work too.

It’s a win for us all!

Buy your course on natural, green beauty here and get started being a smarter shopper now.

pinterest st ives greenwashing

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 3 Comments

  • M. says:

    Antes los productos “St. Ives”,eran muy buenos…,una vez que “Unilever” compró o esta marca pasó a ser parte de esta empresa,ahora,su calidad no es buena…,lo digo porque usé los shampoos “antiguos” de esta marca,¡y me encantaban!

  • Virginia says:

    Dear Kristen,
    OMG! How coincidental that the product you write about is the very product that we are using and experiencing problems with! Their product Body Wash (St. Ives) was causing an immediate rash on my husbands face.

    Thank you for exposing the truth about this Brand.

    • Kristen Arnett says:

      Well I’m happy that you found this article in time to help you figure out that it’s not just your husband having a weird reaction, but perhaps the ingredients are to blame. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment too, and I hope you’ll share this article with your network of friends and family to keep them informed and safe. Come back and let us know what happens when he stops using the wash!

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