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Are Yves Rocher Greenwashing?


Are Yves Rocher telling the truth? Are we being Greenwashed?Updated 31.07.12 - Yves Rocher have been stripped of the leaping bunny logo

You're probably familiar with the brand Yves Rocher as it is successful in Europe and USA. A while ago I was approached by someone representing them with a friendly but bold statement - "I thought you might be just the person to work with as I can see that you are interested in natural and free from products - Yves Rocher have a wide range of organic and natural products and pride themselves on their botanical ethos". 

Personally, I won't accept products without giving consideration to formulations and sadly Yves Rocher do not make that easy since they do not list full ingredients on their website. My response to this situation is to ask the representative for clarification on the following -

Do you have Vegetarian or Vegan approval? What is your policy on Animal Testing? Can you tell me more about your ingredients policy is? For example, do your products contain any of the ingredients listed below: Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES), Parabens, Mineral oil and petroleum derived ingredients, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG), Artificial Fragrance or Parfum, DEA or TEA (di- or tri-ethanolamine), Phthalates (DBP/DMP/DEP) and Lanolin

I have been waiting for a reply and completely forgot about it until this week when an email finally arrived. The following has been copied straight from the email so if the grammar looks out of place the writer has translated French to English.

"According to the European directive, "products launched on the cosmetic market cannot damage the human health when they are applied in normal or predictable conditions of use". We study all the raw materials entering into our products composition and we realise series of tests on our finished products before their launch on the market. These tests are realised on cell cultures then on human volunteers to confirm that these products are tolerated well. Moreover, our products are no more tested on animals since 1989. 

All our products are conceived from plants directly: we select among more than 1,100 ingredients from plants origins that are studied by our laboratories, each best adapted to the specific cosmetic profits of every product, while defining their just concentration. Also, we always give priority to components from natural origins in our formulas, as long as the efficiency and specifically the safety - of these natural materials are guaranteed. In case they were not entirely guaranteed, we prefer using synthesis ingredients. Finally, we do not use neither aldehyde, triclosan nor lanolin in the formulation of our products. Only two of our products still contain Diethylphtalate used for alcohol distorting: those products are Eau de toilette Plaisirs Nature flavour "raspberry" and the Perfumed Deodorant of the So Elixir Purple perfume (launch 09/2012)" 

It's an honest response but I have to weigh up the contents. I'm not completely against synthetic ingredients as they can serve a purpose e.g preservation but I would still like to know specific ingredients. I decided to do a little digging on the internet and came up with a couple of resources that lead me to believe Yves Rocher formulation can contain parabens, mineral oils and perfume. These are ingredients I am avoiding for a variety of reasons.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how some brands really don't wish to give away much about formulations. When you can't physically get hold of a product then you become reliant on the information presented online. What brands fail to recognise is that for customers with allergies and sensitive skin, every ingredient is important. I'd spend my entire time returning products if I could never read a full ingredient list. I prefer to work with smaller indie brands who are open to transparency and willing to share their formulations in detail. I do not doubt that Yves Rocher use botanical plant extracts but there are potential fillers (synthetic ingredients) that may be a concern if you have allergies and/or sensitive skin. I will always ask brands questions because I can not take personal risk with my allergies. I hate wastage so would rather not receive products that I can't test and I'm not keen to pass them along to friends/family if I don't personally approve of the formulations.

I'm not comfortable working with Yves Rocher, as I suspect them of being "Fake Natural Skincare" and I would argue a case for potential greenwashing. Why? because they market on green credentials but use ingredients which other natural brands would avoid. Products that are produced on a mass scale and sold around the world are often formulating on filler synthetic ingredients to keep consumer costs low, quality botanical ingredients are not necessarily going to be budget friendly.

Sarah x