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4 Examples of Wellness Washing and How to Avoid It in Your Copy

6 minutes read

You've probably heard of greenwashing.

Businesses that deceive eco-conscious consumers with false environmental claims are known as greenwashing and threaten genuine sustainability businesses.

Wellness washing is a less-known term, but it is the only way to describe what I've witnessed happening in the holistic wellness industry.

Many businesses use manipulative language in marketing communications, either exaggerating benefits or playing on fear to drive sales.

This is wellness washing.

Some follow this approach, fully aware of what they're doing. We can demote those businesses from the wellness industry - because, frankly, they don't give two sh*ts.

But, if you are a holistic wellness expert with a genuine desire to help others, this blog is for you.


After supporting several wellness coaches and businesses, I've spotted one common theme...

They have little to no direction on how to connect with their community without using outdated and manipulative marketing techniques.

When attempting their own marketing or hiring a copywriter with no industry knowledge, businesses often end up with a profit-focused strategy rather than building a community on trust.

Does this mean they don't care?

Absolutely not.

They simply need better direction and complete trust in their purpose and who they want to help. When they establish this, they can transform a misguided audience into a strong and connected community.

To help shed some light, I want to outline how businesses use wellness washing to manipulate one of the most vulnerable demographics of people there is.

You might recognise the following copy from ads targeted at yourself...

...Or, this is the kind of content your current marketer dishes out.

Either way, these examples are here to demonstrate the influence your words can have, and how choosing them wisely is your responsibility as a holistic wellness expert.

Do You Use These Words? 🐝

Let's talk about wellness buzzwords.

Anyone who has access to the internet has come across these words in some form or another...

🌱 Holistic
🌱 Organic
🌱 Detox
🌱 Superfood
🌱 Healing
🌱 Restorative
🌱 Transformative
🌱 Overcome
🌱 Alleviate

…you get the idea.

Wellness vocabulary carries connotations - usually of a positive nature - but when used irresponsibly, it can be manipulative, triggering, and deceiving.

I'll share more in my next article about using compliant language in the wellness industry to protect your clients and your business.

But first, I want to explain the impact a misuse of these buzzwords can have on the people you intend to help to provide some guidance on navigating your language as a holistic wellness expert.

#1 Exploiting Emotional Triggers

People who are vulnerable and desperate for a solution can find wellness buzzwords triggering as they tap into an unmet emotional need.

Unless your words come from a place of honesty, support, and manageable expectations, your lead will likely act impulsively without guidance on why or how your services can help.

And when they don't understand the why, they are likely to feel the dreaded buyer's remorse once their heightened emotions wear off - leading to mistrust and resentment toward you and your business.

Educate first, then provide the social proof, and only use wellness words that genuinely reflect the result.

What not to say:

Are you tired of feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Sign up for our course today to transform your energy levels.

Say this instead:

Our 6-week guided course provides tools to integrate into your daily routine to support a more balanced lifestyle.

The example of what to say instead is transparent and uses words like integrate and support, which suggests these are manageable tools and not a cure.

#2 Promoting Unrealistic Expectations

Words like transformation, alleviation and healing can be detrimental if misused.

None of these terms should be used without certified evidence-based studies to back them up.

As a holistic wellness expert, you are responsible for not only certifying your claims but recognising that you are not serving a group of people.

You are supporting the individual on their unique path to an improved sense of well-being.

The complexity of human biology combined with psychological conditioning, trauma, and genetics should be at the forefront of our minds when supporting people with wellness goals.

To claim that X achieves Y for everyone who completes your course, attends your therapy session, or signs onto your yoga retreat is one example of wellness washing.

This promotes expectations that are not sustainable or realistic for everyone.

And what's worse?

It doesn't address the unique circumstances of your client.

As a result, they'll feel dissatisfied with your service as you approach their needs with a blanket approach.

Personalisation, empathy, and expectation management are crucial to avoiding this.

What not to say:

Join us for our 4-day retreat to overcome depression, anxiety, and trauma.

Say this instead:

Our 4-day retreat offers a personalised approach to help you discover the tools and techniques to enhance your quality of life.

Here, we have simply expanded on the what and softened expectations with the how.

The first example is a claim - it suggests you will overcome depression, anxiety, and trauma.

The second example is offering tools to help your client discover - this places the result in their hands and doesn't promote an unrealistic transformation.

#3 Playing on Fear and Insecurity

Instilling fear to gain customers and make a quick buck is a dark art.

Manipulating people's fears around health, appearance, or safety is a long-standing marketing technique.

Unfortunately, it's proved successful in some cases where profit is the goal.

If you're only after making that quick buck, then go ahead

But this won't gain trust or build an authentic customer base of people who genuinely value your service and respect you as the expert you are.

Also, have fun trying to sleep at night. 🤐

If you want to connect with more of the right people and retain them as a part of a growing community, you must lead with compassion.

What not to say:

Your unresolved stress can have negative impacts on your family. If you're tired of letting your family down, my 1:1 coaching sessions will restore your relationships and make you a better person.

Say this instead:

Developing self-compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness is essential to becoming the best version of yourself. My 1:1 coaching sessions can support your journey to self-growth and give you the tools to improve your well-being and nurture relationships.

#4 Lack of Scientific Evidence

Making claims with no evidence-based research is a huge driver of wellness washing.

This one is a biggy.

In my upcoming blog, I will explore how to use compliant language to navigate legalities in the wellness industry...

But for now, this example should provide insight into how a simple change in verbs can transform your words from an unsupported claim to a guided statement.

For most holistic practices, gaining scientific or medical research to back up claims is challenging.

So it comes down to not what we say but how we say it.

What not to say:

Our nutritional meal plan includes healing foods like ginger and turmeric that help cure diseases like IBS.

Say this instead:

Key ingredients, like ginger and turmeric, can support healthy digestion when combined with a nutritionally rich, balanced diet.

Claiming your solution can cure or heal is a big no-no, regardless of scientific evidence.

Again, we must consider the unique circumstances of the individual we're helping - so even if there is evidence that a solution has cured a person of their ills - we can't ethically make that promise to the next person.

Adding a reference from a certified health resource, such as the National Library of Medicine, will solidify your statement and steer you away from making unsupported health claims.

Key Takeaways

✅ Manipulating fear and insecurity for profit may be a successful short-term strategy, but it won't lead to genuine trust or a loyal customer base.

✅ Wellness business owners are responsible for providing an honest and compassionate duty of care.

Small modifications to the verbs used can transform a claim into a well-informed and knowledgeable statement.

✅ Using science-backed studies is crucial when sharing health claims or facts.

I'm available for a power-hour session to discuss your marketing challenges and develop a strategy that helps you nurture your wellness community and grow your business ethically.


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