There’s a lot of lazy reporting out there, particularly about beauty products, which are widely perceived as fluffy anyway. (Unless, like me, you see it as a fascinating $30 billion industry that warrants a journalistic approach.)
One of the most frustrating examples I recently encountered included the claim that natural beauty products, because they don’t contain the preservatives of traditional ones, “last just a week.” Um, even my open carton of organic half-and-half lasts longer than that.
This completely erroneous statement wasn’t from a hack beauty blogger or an untrained summer intern, but from an episode of “Good Morning America” that aired just yesterday. Check out the clip, below.
As a journalist on this beat for more than a decade, I was shocked by GMA’s sloppiness. The piece called “The All-Natural Makeup Revolution” (even though it was also about skin care) didn’t include a lick of research, context, or even basic terms about natural or organic beauty before explaining it to, say, 4.4 million viewers. We know a lot of people go away in August, but was there no segment editor on duty?
The segment’s opening statement sounded logical enough (though dated): The demand for natural and organic beauty is now mainstream, because, like natural and organic foods, people are more interested in healthy ingredients and concerned about toxicity.
These natural beauty products "last just a week," according to GMA
Then women on the street (and a random Real Simple editor) were quoted on camera saying they care about toxicity—but not a single allegedly toxic ingredient was named in the piece or how traditionally manufactured beauty products might include them. Doesn’t their claim warrant investigation? Or is that only if women are concerned about toxins in food, pharmaceuticals, or baby bottles?
Another natural-beauty shopper was called upon to perpetuate the myth that her preferred products cost more for their purity. I’ve still yet to see a natural moisturizer cost anywhere near Chanel’s Sublimage La Crème at $390 or La Prairie’s best-selling $710 Skin Caviar.
Two successful natural beauty CEOs were quoted, but unevenly, because they weren’t allowed to explain what makes them work better: Leslie Blodgett said her 1.7-billion-dollar-valued mineral makeup line Bare Escentuals doesn’t harm skin and actually improves it. (Now that would have made a good investigation.)
Tata Harper, founder of the leading luxury natural beauty line of the same name, was shown in bucolic splendor on her Vermont farm, and making a homemade mask with honey, sugar, and lemon juice—when in fact her truly sumptuous all-natural skin-care line sold in high-end spas shares more with Dior beauty than DIY. Harper is no hippie.
Really embarrassing were many of the beauty brands displayed by the GMA hosts that must have been gathered by the show’s advertising division. Who else would think the multisyllabic chemicals used in Neutrogena Naturals were farm-raised?
There are dozens of ways to source and make natural and organic beauty products, the industry is poorly regulated, and there is a ton of concern about traditional skin care as a major source of toxicity, the facts of which have yet to be fully fleshed out by anyone.
But for now I’ll take some simple fact checking from a source that should know better.
Oh, and the average organic skin-care product lasts 6 months after it’s opened. —Melisse Gelula