Burt’s Bees is a company that prides itself on being all natural and eco-friendly. Their website promotes getting in touch with nature, and tries to connect the use of their products to a healthier, happier lifestyle. According to their website, their workers are *“a bunch of hands-on, tree-hugging, greased elbow do-gooders. It’s kind of what makes our company [Burt’s Bees] special.” Which makes this beauty company sound pretty awesome.
This Burt’s Bees SPF 30 Sunscreen label states that this product is “chemical-free”, though if consumers knew enough about Chemistry, they would know that this is not true. Burt’s Bees is a very popular beauty company, which is why their incorrect labeling surprised me.
First of all, everything is made of chemicals. Literally everything. The air around us has chemicals in it, even the plastic packaging holding this sunscreen is made of chemicals. So, essentially it is impossible to create a product that contains absolutely no chemicals. Consumers should learn these facts and realize that labels such as the one on this sunscreen are purely for the happiness of the consumer.
Let’s just look at the first 5 ingredients listed on the back of the sunscreen bottle. Water, cannabis sativa (hemp), glycerin, stearic acid, hydrated silica . . . and the list goes on. Seriously, all you’d have to do is glance at the ingredients list to prove that this product contains chemicals. The very first ingredient listed is water, which is a chemical compound. The third is glycerin, an organic compound used in skin softener products. Basically, almost all the ingredients listed are, in fact, chemicals. Which obviously says something about the reliability of this sunscreen label.
With the words “chemical-free” showcased on the front of this bottle, this product looks appealing to someone trying to buy things that are beneficial for their skin or the environment. It is not very likely for consumers to look at the actual list of ingredients when buying products – especially if they see the words “chemical-free”, “animal cruelty free”, or “all natural” plastered on the front. These phrases are tempting and distracting because consumers assume: 1. That they can trust the manufacturer to label their products honestly. And 2. That these products are bettering their lifestyle because they have extra awesome ingredients.
The marketers of these products are trying to convey that the product doesn’t have any harmful chemicals in it. I’m sure they are also trying to appeal to their consumer base of environmentally friendly or self-aware people. There has to be a discrepancy in the rules for labeling a product that make it legal to place words like “chemical-free” on a product that is not, in fact, free of chemicals. Using the words “chemical-free” even if it’s not true, makes the consumers happier, which is the goal of any company. Happier customers that are more appealed to a product end up buying more – meaning more money for the company.
Burt’s Bees says that they believe *“certain ingredients don’t help the skin thrive.” So their website provides consumers with a list of what is not included in any of their products *“No propylene glycol, butylene glycol, polyisobutene, parabens” . . . etc. (products that are bad for your body). This list only shows what most definitely isn’t in products. Though it does not mean that their products do not contain chemicals whatsoever. They state that they use synthetics to “bolster” the natural ingredients in the products, as well as un-natural ingredients to preserve the consistency of their products. Making it even more obvious that they are not completely all natural or chemical-free.
Basically this label is not accurate or appropriate. Burt’s Bees is a very well known and loved brand, and I bet this product would sell with about the same popularity if the label said “ __% chemical free”. This manufacturer wants consumers to think this product is safer than others. Their consumer base loves their products because their company delights itself in using the best ingredients they possibly can. That fact wouldn’t change if their labels removed words like “chemical-free”.
If the manufacturer is honest in their labeling, consumers will build up more trust for the company overall. I personally think that Burt’s Bees is an awesome brand, but the fact that they labeled this SPF 30 Sunscreen product with the words “chemical-free” makes me wary about whether or not the rest of their products live up to the wording on their labels.
*Quoted from Burt’s Bees official website
“Glycerin Topical.” WebMD. 2005-2015. October 3, 2015. <http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-20275/glycerin+topical/details>
Mariel, Suzette. “Review Burt’s Bees Chemical Free SPF 30 Sunscreen.” WordPress. July 27, 2011. October 3, 2015. <https://suzettemariel.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/review-burts-bees-chemical-free-sunscreen-spf-30/>
“Our Story” and “Our Philosophy.” Burt’s Bees. October 3, 2015. <http://www.burtsbees.com>
Romanowski, Perry. “Why Chemical Free Claims are Harmful.” Chemists Corner. June 18, 2012. October 3, 2015. <http://chemistscorner.com/why-chemical-free-claims-are-harmful/>