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Deceptive Advertising to sell Hair Products

I often look at other products and ingredients, especially when I am researching to make a new product. What strikes me to today is how hard it is to compete when so many companies who use deceptive advertising to sell hair products. In fact, there’s a study that claims 82% of cosmetic claims are false! Ouch!

Key Ingredient Deception

When researching deep conditioners for hair, I looked at the (at the time) number one rated deep conditioner according to It is a $24.99 mask called; It’s a 10 Potion 10 Miracle Repair Hair Mask. I went to Ulta Beauty and they use one of my least favorite ways to deceive customers. I call it the “Key Ingredient” Deception. This trick lists “key ingredients” that actually look like an ingredient list but isn’t. Notice how these key ingredients are listed after fragrance. This means that there is less of these so-called key ingredients then there is fragrance.

Key Ingredients Actual Ingredients
Golden Bamboo Extract:
One of nature’s strongest compounds, this natural essence protects against environmental damage and the effects of heat styling
Indian Gooseberry Extract:
Known for its intensive nourishing properties, this fruit-based extract stimulates new hair growth and helps retain moisture
Coffee Seed Oil:
A rich antioxidant with strong anti-aging properties that preserve and restore hair’s naturally healthy stat
Aqua (Water/Eau),
Propylene Glycol,
Cetearyl Alcohol,
Behentrimonium Chloride,
Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Oil,
Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract,
Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract,
Rosa Canina Fruit Oil
Butylene Glycol
Butylphenyl Methylpropional
Benzyl Benzoate
Hexyl Cinnamal
Citric Acid
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate

The Misleading “Mistake” Ingredient List

We all make mistakes but sometimes I have to wonder if the mistakes aren’t purposeful. For instance when researching Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner, I found the ingredients listed on and they sounded really great, very natural. Except that there was no preservative listed which was off so I did a bit more digging and found that the advertised ingredients are different on the websites and on the bottle.

Listing of Ingredients on Target’s website and Ulta’s website

Deionized Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Argan Oil, Coconut Oil*, Behentrimonium Chloride, Essential Oil Blend, Vegetable Glycerin, Emulsifying Wax, Sea Kelp Extract, Panthenol (Vitamin B-5) Avocado Oil, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower (and) Lonicera Japonica ( Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil *Certified Organic

Ingredients on the Bottle

Water, Stearyl Alcohol, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Glyceryl Caprylate, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Silk, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Sodium lsostearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Benzoate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Fragrance (Essential Oil Blend).

The “Natural” Word Deception

What is natural? There is no official, approved definition of natural. In fact, I googled natural hair conditioner and found “Naturally-Based”, “Natural Fragrance”, “Naturcolor”, “Natural Beauty”… Using the word natural in the description doesn’t make it so. “Lavender Sulfate-Free Conditioner for Sensitive Skin By Tree to Tub – Natural Conditioner” has a good list of ingredients (seems low on preservatives though so I am suspect) but it isn’t exactly “natural” The ingredients are: ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF (Organic Aloe Vera) JUICE, SAPINDUS MUKOROSSI (Wild Soapberry) JUICE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL (from Coconut), CETRIMONIUM CHLORIDE, GLYCERYL STEARATE (from Soy), ARGANIA SPINOSA KERNEL OIL (Organic Argan Oil), BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (Organic Shea Butter), COCOS NUCIFERA (Organic Coconut Oil), DISTEARYL DIMETHYL AMMONIUM CHLORIDE, POLYQUATERNIUM-67, BEHENTRIMONIUM CHLORIDE (from Oilseed Turnip) & ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL (from Coconut) & DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL & GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE (from Coconut), PUNICA GRANATUM (Organic Pomegranate) EXTRACT, LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA (Lavender) ESSENTIAL OIL

It “Comes from Nature” Deception

It could be argued that everything comes from nature originally and and lots of things are organically derived. Using phrases like a blend of organic oils does not mean there is only organic oils in a product or there is not chemicals in a product.

Bait and Switch Natural

You search for all-natural products and somehow you land on a page that has nothing natural on it, only you don’t notice. Amazon is very good at this. I just googled “Natural Conditioner” and found nothing that doesn’t contain chemicals. And the truth is, no one can make a really really good conditioner for sale without chemicals. So, it’s all relative.

So, I’m hoping we can stop rewarding companies that blatantly use deceptive advertising to sell hair products. It would be wonderful if we could appreciate it when a maker tries to be honest by telling you that, “yes, her product has preservatives in it”. (And frankly any product that doesn’t have a preservative but has water and oil, is a ripe petri dish of possible bacteria and fungus.)