The September Issues

Before the October issues hit newsstands (well...before the Septembers are removed for good), I wanted to call attention to the lack of presence of natural products in all forms of print media, but specifically in fashion magazines (a guilty pleasure for many New Yorkers...especially this one). At the annual meeting of the Personal Care Products Council, held this past February in Florida, there were almost as many magazine editors as there were professionals from the products industry. I wasn’t there, but I can guarantee that beauty editors and assistants from all of your favorite fashion magazines were - Condé Nast was even the biggest sponsor of the event! So if you couldn’t already tell (from the first ten ad pages of any September fashion issue) this confirms how large a presence and impact the fashion media has on the products industry, and vice versa. I think it goes without saying that the September issue has the highest circulation and ad placement of all months in fashion glossies. So I’ve taken it upon myself to survey the beauty reviews, tips and (most importantly) advertising in my favorite magazines this month. I found some very interesting, but all too predictable results...but if you're not interested in fashion magazine ads specifically, please just skip to my last two paragraphs.

Tied for first are Vogue and Elle. The total cosmetic and perfume ads for each magazine amounted to about 22 full pages; what I'm referring to as "shower" ads (shampoo, gel, soap) came out to around 13 full pages for Elle and 19 for Vogue; and both magazines contained exactly 3 kinda-sorta natural ads. Vogue has ads for Organix (which is still mostly Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate...), Aveeno (see below), and Ecotools (more of a green tool than natural product, but let's give it to them). Elle's ads are for Aveda (sadly Esteé Lauder permits them to use some harsh chemicals to keep things cheap), Juice Beauty (they too still include lots of bad preservatives), and a third "Eco-Style" ad page designed by the magazine itself (hooray!! way to represent!!). Although their "toxic" product advertising far outweighs that for natural beauty, Vogue and Elle still come out on top for their heightened EFFORT in the natural beauty ad department. And even though I'm being a bit harsh on their featured natural products, they are all MUCH better than any of the products in the magazines other beauty ads.

Next up are Glamour and InStyle. They have a similar amount of beauty advertising. Glamour has a whopping 25 cosmetic and perfume ads, 16 "shower" ads, and 2 (measly) attempts at natural beauty advertisement, while InStyle has about 25 cosmetic and perfume ads, and around 18 "shower" ads. InStyle's attempt at natural beauty advertising is with ads for Aveda, Alterna (which is free of sulfates and preservatives - hooray! - but still has some pretty nasty chemicals), and EcoTools (see a pattern developing?). The two "natural" ads in Glamour are for separate Aveeno products, which are, again, manufactured by J&J. Not that that's a bad thing... J&J was actually just ranked third in Newsweek's "Green Rankings". I've also been a fan of Aveeno for the past few years, so I can't say too many bad things about their products. They use very few ingredients, and were accessible before many other companies began to go "natural" (I could get them in my college town, where very few natural options were available...). So, here are the ingredients in Aveeno's most popular body lotion, which happens to also be an Allure Magazine winner (still unclear as to what this means): Dimethicone, Water, Glycerin, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Petrolatum, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetyl Alcohol, Oat Flour (Avena Sativa), Benzyl Alcohol, and Sodium Chloride. You can be the judge of whether or not they're worth your time...

And Ladies and Gentlemen, in dead last we unfortunately have my two all-time favorite fashion monthlies - W and Bazaar. There really isn't much to discuss here in terms of natural versus toxic advertisement. Bazaar is amazing for fashion, and oftentimes I will find cool new naturalchemysts in the pages of W, but in the natural ads department they're both lacking. I don't want to completely discard any efforts though, so I looked online and there are a few natural beauty segments on their websites. Thank goodness.

I must note that there are plenty of magazines out there with great natural product advertising. Natural Health and Real Simple are two examples. Sadly, these magazines (and their peers) just don't do it for me in the fashion department. But I’m certainly not going to stop reading my favorite fashion mags, and I’m not saying you should either. I just hope you remember that the beauty placement in the biggest and best fashion magazines is neither helpful nor healthful. As consumers we have the ultimate power to change this.

One noticeable difference in all the magazines this month was the widespread advertising for Fekkai haircare. This is probably because uber-conglomerate Procter & Gamble recently purchased Fekkai, so now the brand has major ad and marketing money for placement in all the biggest magazines. P&G undoubtedly purchased Fekkai because of the increased demand for their products. Each time we purchase a truly natural product, we are making a choice to support our own health, the health of future generations, and the brands that will (fingers crossed) be purchased by major conglomerates like P&G and others. Those few extra seconds spent examining an ingredients label really does make a huge difference! Let's hope that major fashion magazines (and the large conglomerates that monopolize their ad pages) begin to see that natural is NOT going away, and adapt accordingly. And in the meantime, when it comes to beauty and personal products, just stick with tips and reviews from The Naturalchemyst - I promise to steer you in the right direction!

On a final and somewhat sad note…I think it’s pretty clear that the future of the magazine industry is doomed. I’m not sure if I'll ever enjoy reading an article online as much as I do from a beautiful monthly glossy. There might be one benefit, though. Natural products might have a more equal footing in the personal product world. I say this because most natural product companies are also quite "green" and sustainable, which is one of the many reasons you don’t see them in the ad pages of the most popular magazines. Basically, people will no longer be overloaded with pages on end of toxic products each time they open their favorite magazine...because there will no longer BE a magazine to open. Only a site, webpage or blog. Green and natural products are already all over the internet. I think that with the demise of print, natural products will have a larger presence, which will also heighten consumer awareness of product toxicity. But this is just my prediction. What do YOU think? Will the end of big fashion magazines (at least in glossy print) mean great things for natural beauty??? 

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