Four companies that market skin-care products, shampoos and sunscreens online have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely claimed their products were “all natural” or “100 percent natural,” even though they contain synthetic ingredients.
The FTC has issued a complaint against a fifth company for making similar claims.
Under the proposed settlements, each of the four companies is barred from making similar misrepresentations and must have competent and reliable evidence to substantiate any ingredient-related environmental or health claims it makes.
“‘All natural’ or ‘100 percent natural’ means just that -— no artificial ingredients or chemicals,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies should take a lesson from these cases.”
According to the FTC, five companies made the all-natural claim in online ads. Trans-India Products Inc., doing business as ShiKai, based in Santa Rosa, Calif., which markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” directly and through third-party Web sites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com, had lotion that the FTC said contains dimethicone, ethyhexyl glycerin and phenoxyethanol. The gel contains phenoxyethanol.
Erickson Marketing Group, doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, based in Aravada, Colo., used its Web site to promote “all natural” products such as the “Natural Face Stick,” which contains dimethicone, polyethylene and other synthetic ingredients.
ABS Consumer Products, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, based in Memphis, was marketing haircare products on its Web sites and at walmart.com that claimed it made “all natural” products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixer” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo” that in reality contained a range of synthetic ingredients such as polyquaternium-37, phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol and polyquaternium-7.
Beyond Coastal, based in Salt Lake City, used its Web site to sell its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100 percent natural, ” however, it also contains dimethicone.
California Naturel Inc, located in Sausalito, Calif., was selling supposedly “all natural sunscreen” on its Web site, though the product contains dimethicone. The FTC 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 whether the product is all natural or 100 percent natural, the extent to which the product contains any natural or synthetic components, the ingredients or composition of a product and the environmental or health benefits of a product when advertising, promoting or selling 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.
The FTC’s complaint against California Naturel seeks relief similar to that found in the four proposed consent orders.
The agreements will be subject to public comment for 30 days through May 12, after which the FTC will decide whether to make the proposed consent orders final.