Burt's Bees' website campaigns for regulation

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Personal care Cosmetics

Natural personal care firm Burt's Bees has put forward its own
definition of natural in a recently launched educational website,
as concerns about the state of the regulation of natural
personal care products in the US continue.

The new website, called The Greater Good, describes what Burt's Bees believes natural beauty products should contain and how they should be made. Burt's Bees said the website was created because the US customer can be too easily misled when there is no official regulation for natural personal care product. The guidelines on the new website, which were compiled in consultation with the Natural Products Association and several competitors, are accompanied by a mock regulatory framework, the Burt's Bees National Standard. Visitors to the site are encouraged to sign a petition for universally recognized and regulated guidelines for all natural personal care products, which is called Burt's Bill for Setting the National Standard. Fueling its arguments for stricter standards, a survey of 502 women commissioned by the company reveals widespread misunderstanding about the status of the 'natural' label. A total of 78 percent of respondents wrongly believed that the natural personal care sector was regulated. Support for regulation was strong with 97 percent saying they thought that natural cosmetics should be enforced. While two-thirds thought that a cosmetic product labeled natural should have at least 95 percent natural ingredients, the absence of regulation means that this is frequently not the case. Products with greatly differing quantities of natural ingredients can be labeled 'natural.' "There are currently no guidelines or labeling standards for using the term 'natural,' so products that have as little as 1 percent natural ingredients can claim to be 'natural,'"​ said Mike Indursky from Burt's Bees. As the naturals segment continues to grow rapidly, Burt's Bees' campaign seeks to inform and educate customers about the cosmetic products they buy. "The goal of The Greater Good is to educate consumers about 'natural' personal care products and establish a standard for the personal care market, which is unmatched in the industry,"​ added Katie Valentiner from Burt's Bees. Strict official standards would help customers distinguish Burt's Bees' products, which contain on average 99 percent natural ingredients, from other cosmetics that are currently labeled 'natural,' but sometimes contain as little as 5 percent natural ingredients. Burt's Bees is not alone in its anxiety about the state of the US regulatory system, which many experts say has permitted unsatisfactory health risks. Earlier this year the Environmental Working Group said that many cosmetics currently on sale in the US contain levels of toxins that may have a potentially harmful cumulative effect. A few weeks after that, the Investor Environmental Health Network warned that investment in the cosmetics industry could be hit if regulations weren't tightened up.

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