Four companies that market skin care products, shampoos and sunscreens online have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely claimed that their products are “all natural” or “100 percent natural,” despite the fact that they contain synthetic ingredients. The commission 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 in the future 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, each of the following companies made the all-natural claim in online ads:
- Trans-India Products, Inc., doing business as ShiKai, based in Santa Rosa, California, markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” both directly and through third-party websites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com. The lotion contains Dimethicone, Ethyhexyl Glycerin and Phenoxyethanol. The gel contains Phenoxyethanol.
- Erickson Marketing Group, doing business as Rocky Mountain Sunscreen, based in Arvada, Colorado, uses its website to promote “all natural” products such as the “Natural Face Stick,” which contains Dimethicone, Polyethylene and other synthetic ingredients.
- ABS Consumer Products, LLC, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, based in Memphis, Tennessee, markets hair care products on its own websites and at Walmart.com. It makes “all natural” claims for products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixer” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo.” In reality, the products contain a range of synthetic ingredients such as Polyquaternium-37, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol and Polyquaternium-7.
- Beyond Coastal, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses its website to sell its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100% natural.” However, it also contains Dimethicone.
- California Naturel, Inc., located in Sausalito, California, sells supposedly “all natural sunscreen” on its website, though the product contains Dimethicone. The commission 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 the following when advertising, promoting or selling a product: 1) whether the product is all natural or 100 percent natural; 2) the extent to which the product contains any natural or synthetic components; 3) the ingredients or composition of a product; and 4) the environmental or health benefits of 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 commission’s complaint against California Naturel seeks relief very similar to that found in the four proposed consent orders.
The commission vote to issue each administrative complaint and to accept the four proposed consent agreements was 3-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement packages in the Federal Register shortly.
The agreements will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through May 12, 2016, after which the cCommission will decide whether to make the proposed consent orders final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically by following the instructions in the “Invitation To Comment” part of the “Supplementary Information” section. Comments case can also be submitted by clicking on the following links: Trans-India Products, Inc.; Erickson Marketing Group; ABS Consumer Products, LLC; and Beyond Coastal.
NOTE: The commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.