Written by Alina Gao
Sustainable beauty means beauty products that are less harmful to the world compared to toxic beauty products that are full of chemicals. This includes products made from organic materials with eco-friendly practices and sustainable packaging. For example, raw renewable ingredients and biodegradable materials are all sustainable beauty products, and currently, bio-based oleochemicals are a very big part of sustainable beauty. Clean beauty products are made with natural and organic ingredients, and often simpler recipes with a refillable option. Their packaging is also usually recyclable, and features the recyclable symbol, cruelty-free bunny, and 3rd party certifications such as Fair Trade or B-Corp.
Some examples of what these products are made of include:
● Natural oils, such as palm and coconut oil. However, palm oil has been proven to cause forest endangerment, so a better alternative is argan oil or avocado oil
● Plants, including soybean, corn, and others used to produce oil and alcohol are often used for emulsifiers in these green beauty products
● Bacteria is used to create scented and pigmented products
Here are some unsustainable materials to avoid:
● BHA/BHT are preservatives commonly in lipsticks and moisturizers, and they’re proven to alter the endocrine system, which regulates your metabolism, growth/development, tissue function, sleep, and mood
● Formaldehyde preservatives, which are also used in cleaning products, are known to cause cancer in humans
● Aluminum is usually in deodorants, blocks the sweat glands, and is linked to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis
All the side effects of these ingredients demonstrate why clean beauty is vital. Sustainable beauty is important because if everyone was using it, it would greatly reduce the amount of toxic chemicals and waste in the world. The cosmetics industry affects many people in the world, and is expected to reach a net worth of $463.5 billion by 2027. These products often contain harmful ingredients and wasteful packaging. This current focus on clean beauty will help the planet as well as the people who use the products. The world is suffering from dangerously high carbon levels and an ocean full of plastic. The petrochemicals in beauty products are harmful for both the earth and our bodies, and as these effects gain attention we must be more conscious of the ingredients we use.
For example, microbeads are a huge plastic pollutant in the ocean. Microbeads are miniscule pieces of plastic usually in cleansers and exfoliators, and they’re so small they pass through the drain filtering system. This leads to microbeads in the ocean, where fish and other sea creatures eat them.
Sustainable beauty is better for us because the products are not as harsh and irritable. The chemicals in most beauty products are bad for our skin, and natural plant products are gentler and more effective for your skin. For example, aloe vera has micro-bacterial, anti-aging, and soothing properties, while each of the dangerous ingredients mentioned above have a plethora of dangerous side effects. This relates to another reason why this movement is important, which is that these ingredients are extremely harmful for human health, so making the switch will not only help the planet, but also you!
I think that this trend is what the world needs, and will inspire many other sustainability movements. Another factor of climate change is fast fashion, which, like the beauty industry, is starting to change. It shows great progress with awareness and action for a more sustainable future. However, it makes it easier for companies to greenwash consumers and use it as a marketing tactic, and sustainable beauty is often more expensive. Not everyone is able to afford it, and unlike clothing, clean beauty isn’t just about reducing use and you can’t go thrifting for used products. There are thrift stores for makeup products, but that doesn’t mean they were produced ethically. And sometimes buying ethical beauty products is not accessible, and it’s not beneficial to shame those who have no other options. We should focus on companies who take advantage of these situations and exploit and harm the earth, as well as try to bring awareness to this issue so that sustainable beauty becomes more widespread and accessible. With the growing interest in sustainable beauty, I hope more companies start making these eco changes.
This movement has led to companies scrambling to hop on this movement and appeal as “green” and “eco-friendly”. Greenwashing is when a company uses marketing tactics to make consumers think their products are more sustainable than they actually are. EOS, Johnson and Johnson’s, and St. Ives have all been accused of greenwashing. This is often a facet of marketing, trying to convince those concerned about the ethics of their products to continue giving money to the brand. To spot and reduce greenwashing, do and look for
1. Vague words related to sustainability, such as “green” – what does that actually mean? 2. Targeted pictures, such as aesthetically appealing pictures of flowers that are used to influence your subconscious into associating “plant” with the company and their products.
3. Look for third party certifications, such as ECOCERT and USDA Organic.
4. Ask the brand specific questions. You can email or review their products.
5. Find out who’s making the products. Workers rights go hand in hand with sustainability.
I love using multi use beauty products, such as towels instead of cotton pads. I’m trying to be more sustainable with my shampoos, but I haven’t found a good and affordable one yet. However, I understand that sustainable things are often more expensive. I especially love ethical skin care products, such as The Ordinary who uses glass bottles for their serums. They’re also clean beauty and super affordable. Emma Watson, Gwyneth Paltrox, and Jessica Alba have all been seen using and promoting green beauty products. Here are some more sustainable beauty products and brands:
● Burt Bee’s
● The Ordinary
● Drunk Elephant
● RMS Beauty
● Earth Tu Face
● Skin and Tonic
● Meow Meow Tweet
● Fat and the Moon
● Ursa Major
● Herbivore Pink Cloud Cleanser
● Alpyn Beauty Wild Huckleberry 8-Acid Polishing Peel
● Dove Refillable Deodorant
● Love Beauty & Planet Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Dry Shampoo https://goop.com/beauty/skin/gwyneth-paltrows-morning-routine/
If you’re wondering how to make your beauty routine more sustainable, try to implement these tips: Use reusable products, such as reusable cotton pads. It’ll also be more cost efficient in the long run. Make sure to read the ingredients on products and check against a masterlist. Questions brands claims to prevent being greenwashed, and do your research, because different brands have different definitions for “clean”. Try your best to buy bar shampoos and body washes instead of bottles, to reduce waste. Invest in all the ways to reuse and recycle empty bottles and packaging.
Sustainable beauty is often expensive and time consuming, and having money and time is what allows you to have this privilege of buying clean beauty products. There is nothing wrong with buying less sustainable products if they’re the only ones accessible to you. The most important thing is to spread awareness and do what you can to advocate for more sustainable beauty.
Read more of Issue 7 here.