One would assume when buying a product marketed as “all-natural” or “100% natural” that said product wouldn’t contain synthetic ingredients like phenoxyethanol or polyethylene, right? Wrong. At least, that’s the cases for five companies facing action by federal regulators for allegedly making false claims about their products’ ingredients.
The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it had reached deals in which four companies have agreed to settle charges that they falsely claimed their personal-care products were “all natural” or “100% natural,” despite the fact that they contain synthetic ingredients.
A fifth company continues to face a complaint related to the same charges.
According to the FTC, each of the five companies made false all-natural claims in online ads for their products, including skin care products, shampoos, and sunscreens.
In the case of Trans-India Products, Inc. — doing business as ShiKai — the FTC claims [PDF] the company’s “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” were anything but “all natural.”
The products, which were sold directly to customers and through third-party websites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com, actually contain synthetic ingredients. Specifically, the lotion contains dimethicone, ethyhexyl glycerin, and phenoxyethanol, while the gel contains phenoxyethanol.
The FTC claims [PDF] that Colorado-based Erickson Marketing Group — doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen — falsely claimed on its website that its “Natural Face Stick” was made with all natural ingredients. However, the FTC found that the product actually contained dimethicone, polyethylene, and other synthetic ingredients.
Tennessee-based ABS Consumer Products, LLC — doing business as EDEN BodyWorks — markets haircare products on its own websites and at Walmart.com.
It makes “all natural” claims for products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixer” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo.” In reality, the FTC claims [PDF] these products contain a range of synthetic ingredients such as polyquaternium-37, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, and polyquaternium-7.
Finally, in the case of Utah-based Beyond Costal, the FTC claims [PDF] the company used its website to sell “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing the product as “100% natural.” However, it also contains dimethicone.
Under the agreed upon settlements, the four companies are barred from making similar misrepresentations in the future and must have competent and reliable evidence to substantiate any ingredient-related, environmental, or health claims it makes.
The FTC also filed a complaint against a fifth company, California Naturel, Inc, for allegedly deceptively selling “all natural sunscreen” on its website, despite the fact the product contains dimethicone.
The complaint seeks to stop California Naturel from claiming its products are all-natural.
“‘All natural’ or ‘100 percent natural’ means just that — no artificial ingredients or chemicals,” Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.