Green washing

I was at a place in Lagos last week. They had on sale, loads of their branded hair products and all of them had boldly written on them,  “Eucalyptus” or “Castor Oil” or “Aloe Vera” e.t.c. You know, all those buzzwords that people that are pursuing a natural lifestyle feel drawn to. I randomly took one of the products off the shelf and turned the packaging around to read the ingredients. That is my knee jerk reaction when I come across a new product. I can’t remember it all right now but the product with the Castor Oil written boldly in front of it had ingredients listed something like this:

Parafinum Liquidum, Microcrystalline Wax, Petrolatum, Castor Oil, Tea Tree Oil, PEG-75 Lanolin Oil, Parfum.

It was being sold as a Castor Oil Creme.  Now that you have seen the ingredients, I ask you: Would you regard this as a Castor Oil creme? More like a Paraffin Oil creme or a Petroleum Jelly creme, right? But that won’t sell so they name it after the 4th ingredient in the batch. Notice too that the Tea Tree Oil is not called Tea Tree Essential Oil, so don’t confuse the two. Lastly, no really natural product uses parfum. They use an essential oil for scent and its aromatherapeutic qualities. If they do not, then they tend to use phtalate free fragrances.

I looked at another product then another, then another, and yet another and they all were like that. The very things that Naturals typically do not like were available in abundant quantities in each product. ‘Cones, Petroleum based products and questionable preservatives.

I was a bit gobsmacked by the level of greenwashing that was going on there, especially as this company have built a brand that they claim is tailored towards Naturals and those that want to use Natural Products.

I had intended to do this post before then and felt spurred on to do it even more after I went there.

So let’s talk a bit about Green washing and how you can recognize it for yourself. states that:

It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.

There is much more information on the Green Washing Index site and I encourage you to go read it.

Green washing can take many forms and for the purpose of this post, I am going to focus on just a few things.

1. A product that exaggerates how natural the product actually is. 

This is clear from the ingredients posted above.

2. The Ad leaves out or masks important information, making the green claim sound better than it is. 

They clearly left out all of the  “other stuff” the ingredient contains. Probably would not have had it on the label at all, except that it is required by regulatory bodies.

3. The Ad Misleads with Visuals and/or Graphics. 

This product had a green label and the words that were largest were Castor Oil. It had the largest font and was in bold. All this done to draw in the consumer.

An example of the front not matching the back.

Now, I do have to state that I have nothing against this company or their products or any other products that are not “au naturel”. My issue is the fact that they are passing it off as something it is not. This untruth does not only draw in customers on false grounds, it also does not create an equal playing field for others that are in the market with actual natural products (which are much more expensive).

Customers that are not that discerning will then wonder why a truly natural product is sold for say, N2500 while they can get a so-called natural product for N500. Drawing on probabilities, I would say that the latter will always get their money.

Last thing to say about greenwashing are below. Please tweet them (by clicking on Tweetthis in the box below) so that more people are aware!

[tweetthis]Companies that Green Wash are usually bigger & spend more on adverts & marketing than d actual product.[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]At the end of the day, we get far less quality and help them put the products in more hands. #greenwash[/tweetthis]



I have a serious issue with products like this. I’ve seen countless. I instinctively turn the back as well and more often than not it’s a complete 180 from the back.

Natural Nigerian

Why they don’t just come clean is beyond me….when their customers find out they are often so mad they want absolutely nothing to do with the brand anymore. Just be who you are. Those that like you will like you.


I once heard that the reason why all “the other stuff” are not included is becos if they are included in smaller proportions than the proportion that would require for the company to include at the back of their product,, then there would be no need to mention it.
So, usually there are a lot more harmful products than are actually listed. Smh.

Natural Nigerian

I guess that it depends on what the country is. I know that in the EU and even the US, everything has to be listed. Even the few drops of essential oils that go into the bottle. In Nigeria though, it does not appear that this is the case.

African Naturalistas Hair Products

I fell for this gimmick a lot when I was newly natural. I would buy petroleum based creams named jojoba oil and coconut oil, and they cost like N100 and N200. There was a time I bought a bottle of ‘coconut oil’ and ‘tea tree oil’, and my scalp was always on fire when I use those oils. I still have those bottles with me, for records sake.


When it comes to food this is even more important. That’s why i don’t understand why people will buy pre-packaged and processed “healthy” foods such as fruit and vegetables. There are always extra ingredients in them and one always pays for the packaging. So even though the cheese, grains, fruit and veg from the farmers markets look much less pretty, they’ll always be better than the shop bought ones with “added” vitamins mscheewwwwww!


Please pardon my ignorance, my hair is like a year and five months old. Thing is am not so good at styling my hair, plus I really don’t know much about hair products and which one would suit my hair. Don’t if there’s any salon that deals with strictly natural hair in benin plus I don’t do you have a salon in Lagos, would be visiting lagos soon. Would love to hear from you, I need hairlp

Natural Nigerian

Lol @ hairlp! We are going to have a class soon to teach people like you about their hair and basic styling. Please look out for an announcement on this blog soon if you are interested. There are several salons that deal specifically with Natural Hair. What part of Lagos will you be in so I know where to direct you?


Dats serious dats y I go an extra mile to diy most of my hair products and try to stick to d ones dat I knw works well with my hair.


Hi. Can I get plain Castor oil from you? I see you have black castor oil on your website, not sure if there’s any difference.
Thank you.

Alasiri Oluwatosin

Hi! I appreciate the job u’re doing with informing us well. I tried getting some products here but a lot of them seem to be out of stock. Is there a difference between plain castor oil and jamaican black castor oil? And please what oils work for the skin and fading of scars?


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