Why do skin care companies make claims related to the environment? Because the FDA does not allow cosmetics to claim improvement to skin physiology or biochemistry. If you are not allowed to say that your product improves skin health, what can you say? You can talk about the beautiful sea, how beautiful the mountains are, how your product doesn’t impact the environment in a bad way, etc.
This is why when you choose a skincare product, you should ignore the ecological buzzwords in the advertisement. Just look at the ingredient list. That will tell you what the advertising can’t. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the environment (more below).
Organic, green, sustainable, natural, biodegradable. Do they matter? It depends on the context. When they are written by the advertising department a skincare company they are not. They are used with nebulous (or no) meaning that can’t be tested by you, the consumer.
You can’t test and see whether a product is made with organic ingredients, they are words that have to be taken on faith. Don’t: leave the faith for religious matters.
When does ecology matter? In the context of government policy and individual behavior. It matters if we have a lawn in Arizona and we are wasting water to water this lawn. We choose to go for a desert-type garden. It matters when we have to choose between oils: if the fatty acid composition is similar, go for the oil that will not require the destruction of a natural habitat to plant palms. Ecology matters when trying to decide what car to buy, whether to use herbicides in your garden, or whether the pizza you are eating has been shipped all the way from Italy. You weigh the evidence and you make the decision.
But when it comes to skincare, what matters to you, as a consumer, is the contents of that package: is it working the way it is supposed to? Is it safe? Is it benefiting your skin? Here, ecology would be a distraction. If you buy a product on the basis of advertising (is it green?) you may end up with a useless jar that will end up in the trash, and that’s not good for the environment.
When it comes to skincare, look at the ingredient list. Does it contain the actives you are looking for? Natural or synthetic, the ingredients should be useful and safe and the product pleasant to use if at all possible (some very useful actives don’t smell nice; if they are good for the skin, I will still use them).