Free From Ingredients? – Part II

Since we posted on the subject of skincare manufacturers failing to include full ingredients listings of their products on their websites in ‘Free From Ingredients?’ a few weeks ago, we have explored the problem a little more deeply. Judging by the comments we received via social media and email, sentiment is fairly strong on the subject.

We decided to do a little, and very rough, experiment, and look at a selection of ranges which are listed in our database.

First, we looked at brands such as Green People, NATorigin and Alva – and all included ingredients on their site (and quite a few were explicit about their ‘free from’ credentials too, which we’re always keen to see). Good for them all!

But then we moved down and looked at a selection of ten consecutively-listed brands near the top of our alphabetic database, and what we discovered was surprising and disappointing. We chose a product at random from each site we clicked through to, and looked for the ingredients listing of that product. Five brands featured them, but five did not. Of the five which failed our test, for three we could only find selected ingredients (not surprisingly, the botanicals – or a few of them), and for two we could not find any ingredients mentioned at all.

We don’t want to name and shame brands, especially as several of the five we looked at have particularly good ingredients and strong ‘free from’ credentials, but the more we look into this issue, the more it is baffling us. Why are some brands failing to disclose ingredients? Do they think consumers don’t want to know? Do they think some of the widely acceptable but ‘chemical sounding’ names which are regularly found in skincare products might scare them off? Do they think it’s safer and best to just name-check the nice plant extracts?

Is there some legitimate reason we’re not aware of?

There have been other experiences we’ve had in recent weeks, since our previous post. One publicist (PR) for a range they represented was unable to give us the ingredients of a product they had put forward for review – at least not until they restocked their samples of the product in the office. Another new brand’s marketing folk told us that their products do not hide their ingredients and do disclose them fully (we should hope so – it’s required by law) – but do you think these were available to view on their (admittedly new) website yet? Sadly – no; although the light at the end of the tunnel is that they promised to remedy the situation.

We know everyone in the skincare industry is over-worked, and when setting up a website the full ingredients may not take precedence over things like product description, product image, price and ‘click to buy’ button, but is it really too much to ask to merely reproduce the ingredients that appear on the packaging, onto the product’s webpage?

No doubt there’ll be a part III to this, and we may even feel moved to start enquiring of brands why ingredients aren’t listed on their sites. In fairness, in some cases it may merely be an oversight – but surely this can’t be everyone’s excuse.

Would you find it useful to know why skincare companies fail to do this? Are you a manufacturer with good reason for not disclosing ingredients online? Have you ever had to email or call manufacturers to find out ingredients – for instance, to ensure a product you wanted to buy was ‘free from’ one of your allergens or personal chemicals to avoid?

As always, let us know …


  1. Pingback: Ingredients lists

  2. Sarah (Sugarpuffish)

    You know this is one of my biggest annoyances when shopping online. I’ve had various “excuses” as to why ingredients are not listed from “our website needs updating” to “we are protecting our formula from competitors”. I have emailed manufacturers for ingredients but I’ve got to be really keen on the product before I do that because most of the time, who can be bothered to wait for an answer. If I’m in the mood to spend money I don’t want to wait a week before I can place an order so I move on and shop elsewhere. If your only market is online selling rather than a store I think you have to provide as much information as possible because the product isn’t to hand to be scrutinised by the consumer

    1. Alex (Post author)

      Perhaps if manufacturers realised that they were potentially losing custom, they would act? I’m currently querying the PR of a new range of children’s skincare products why they are not providing their ingredients online. They don’t know, is the answer I’ve received. It’s fast becoming one of our biggest annoyances too … !


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