This post was originally written and published in Jan/Feb 2019. Six months later it was linked to on a very popular online group for women with curly hair. This created a bit of attention, including an emotionally defensive and condescending email from the manufacturer of the products that this post is all about. Thus, I made a few edits to better get my point across. Admittedly, they will probably be even less thrilled with it now.
The cosmetic industry is a multi-coloured plastic minefield of promises which ensnare us with hyperbolic marketing, alluring fragrance and preservatives. With the increasing number of companies positioning themselves with a green and ethical brand identity, we as consumers must be even more vigilant in our efforts to not be mislead. Cosmetic companies big or small, regardless of their attempts to paint themselves as unique and different, rarely are. After all, they are in the business of selling cosmetics - an industry whose sales driven needs often confuse and mislead consumers.
Am I sceptical by nature? Yes. Is this because I've been burned before from a cosmetic company? No. Guess who has though? My clients. Literally every one of them. I've listened to thousands of stories from my clients the last 30 years which consistently speak of the frequent bullshit they been told and sold. My direct professional presentation and the contributions to this very blog are a deliberate effort to honestly educate and inform. I see it as my outright duty to use my experience and voice to ensure that clients know someone is on their side and looking out for their best interests. The cosmetic industry is a billion dollar industry which profits from the emotional manipulation of women. I will always do what I can as a conscientious service provider to help in any way I can to level the playing field. Clients tell me they appreciate this greatly.
Whenever I stumble onto a company whose website is littered with all sorts of 'green' information about how ethical and upstanding they are I actually become more dubious - especially when their individual product marketing then reads just like every other cosmetic company. Whether big or small, cosmetics companies are in it to make money by selling lots of products. This is fact. Manufacturers nowadays are held accountable by their customers and must show that they are 'giving back'. Many are absolutely doing great things for the environment and the communities they support and this should not be overlooked. While this is obviously admirable, it also directly part of their brand positioning in order to win over customer loyalty. Equally important to any company's ethical position in the marketplace though is for their product offerings and marketing to equally be so. Marketing hyperbole, redundant offerings and products which don't deliver the results one would be expecting are things which can easily undermine credibility. Also, I find it incredibly contradictory when a company with a brand identity that promotes how ethical and responsible they are simultaneously chooses to use images of women in their advertising that are widely considered to be socially irresponsible in this era. Using images to promote your products that feature women of all ages, shapes and sizes would be an honest reflection of the actual consumer market and resonate more soundly with the time we live in. A truly conscientious and ethical cosmetic company would also have a streamlined yet effective product portfolio, not a redundant, ever expending and confusing one. Recyclable, refillable or otherwise a smaller product offering would mean less plastic and therefore be unequivocally better for the planet. Then again, I'm not a sales and marketing guy.
The word ethical and the selling of cosmetics to women is so ripe with contradiction. One would have to be so very careful to not be the constant target of criticism as an inconsistency in a company's presentation would readily undermine any attempts to convince me that they are in fact, different. This is precisely why I am cautious and don't automatically parrot any company's ethos onto my clients, let alone sell their products directly. The lesson here is pretty simple. Just because a company puts forth an image of being ethical and environmentally responsible doesn't mean that as consumers we should blindly assume their products are going to do what the labels and marketing says they will nor will they all be necessary for one person to purchase. After all, they are still just a cosmetic company, and products can only do so much. True beauty comes from within and we are all equally gorgeous in that way. Our best self is absolutely achievable without cosmetic assistance of any kind whether that be scissor, brush or multi-coloured plastic bottle. So watch where you step!
While online comments are always closed, I encourage any readers to email me their thoughts directly. I will always respond in kind.
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