The FTC on Super (un)natural product claims

FTC

In a recent post by Seena Gressin, Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, we get a glimpse of the FTC’s view of “natural”

For lovers of word-association games: what words leap to mind when you think of “all natural” ingredients?

Did you pick “Dimethicone,” “Phenoxyethanol,” or “Polyethylene”? Perhaps “Butyloctyl alicylate,” “Polyquaternium-37,” or “Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate”? No? Well, not to worry — you haven’t lost the game. But five companies that tagged products that contained one or more of these ingredients as “all natural” or “100% natural” are now rethinking their strategy.

The FTC alleged the companies misrepresented their personal care products — including sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels — by describing them as “all natural” or “100% natural” when they contained one or more synthetic ingredients.

According to the FTC, the claims showed up in product names, such as “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion,” sold under the trade name ShiKai by Trans-India Products, Inc., of Santa Rosa, Calif., and “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixir,” sold under the trade name EDEN BodyWorks by ABS Consumer Products, LLC, of Memphis, Tenn.

The FTC said the claims also showed up in product ads. For example, The Erickson Marketing Group Inc., of Arvada, Colo., which uses the trade name Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, and California Naturel, Inc., of Sausalito, Calif., both advertised their sunscreens as “all natural,” while Beyond Coastal, of Salt Lake City, touted its sunscreen as “100% natural.”

Four of the companies have agreed to proposed orders that would prohibit them from claiming that any product is 100% natural unless they have reliable evidence to back up the claim. The orders also would require them to have proof for any claims they make about the products’ environmental or health benefits. The Commission issued a complaint against the fifth company, California Naturel, seeking the same relief.

How can you avoid being burned by misleading “all natural” claims for sunscreen and other products? Take the claims with a non-synthetic grain of salt, check out the ingredients list on the package, and please visit our website for information about shopping for products that claim to have health or beauty benefits.

 

According to the FTC, each of the following companies made the all-natural claim in online ads:

  • Trans-India Products, Inc., doing business as ShiKai, based in Santa Rosa, California, markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” both directly and through third-party websites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com. The lotion contains Dimethicone, Ethyhexyl Glycerin, and Phenoxyethanol. The gel contains Phenoxyethanol.
  • Erickson Marketing Group, doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, based in Aravada, Colorado, uses its website to promote “all natural” products such as the “Natural Face Stick,” which contains Dimethicone, Polyethylene, and other synthetic ingredients.
  • ABS Consumer Products, LLC, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, based in Memphis, Tennessee, 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 products contain a range of synthetic ingredients such as Polyquaternium-37, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Polyquaternium-7.
  • Beyond Coastal, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses its website to sell its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100% natural.” However, it also contains Dimethicone.
  • California Naturel, Inc., located in Sausalito, California, sells supposedly “all natural sunscreen” on its website, though the product contains Dimethicone. The Commission has issued a complaint alleging that California Naturel has made deceptive “all natural” claims in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.

The proposed consent orders bar the four settling respondents from misrepresenting the following when advertising, promoting, or selling a product: 1) whether the product is all natural or 100 percent natural; 2) the extent to which the product contains any natural or synthetic components; 3) the ingredients or composition of a product; and 4) the environmental or health benefits of a product.

The orders require the respondents to have and rely on competent and reliable evidence to support any product claims they make. Some claims require scientific evidence, which is defined as tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated objectively by qualified individuals using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

More information can be found at the FTC website. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/super-unnatural-product-claims?utm_source=govdelivery

Do you use a product that claims to be all natural, but isn’t? Share with your fellow readers or contact us to take action.

 

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