What does ‘sustainability’ actually mean in the beauty world? Can a product ever be truly sustainable or is it just another marketing ploy? And what should you look for in the pursuit of sustainable beauty products?
Half of consumers want more transparency about beauty brands’ environmental values. That’s according to a recent study carried out by the British Beauty Council.
But it can be a real struggle to find sustainable beauty brands. Even knowing what to look for can be confusing.
We’ve done the research to help you on your quest for more sustainable beauty products.
What to look for in ethical beauty brands
No brand or product is perfect. The trick is to find those brands that try to make the world a better place.
In your search for sustainable beauty products, first consider ingredients, steering clear of toxins and animal products.
And then think about how the business operates. It’s no use being kind to animals ingredient-wise, only to pollute the planet in other ways.
While it’s hard to find a brand that meets all the criteria, some companies do better than others.
As a conscientious consumer, you probably want to know exactly what’s in your products. It’s true that reading ingredient lists can be overwhelming. But you don’t need to do that. Instead, look out for labels that can help you determine which companies you wish to support.
Cruelty-free products are made from ingredients that have not been tested on animals at any stage in their development.
Non-toxic products are free from GMOs, manufactured herbicides, artificial fertilizers, preservatives, parabens and other toxic ingredients.
Vegan products contain no animal ingredients.
Palm oil-free products are free from the environmentally devastating palm oil or any of its derivatives.
Next you’ll want to consider how a company behaves. Modern beauty companies tend to be more open to transparency than their traditional counterparts. And you can often find plenty of information online.
Here are some things to ask when it comes to beauty businesses’ practices.
How were the ingredients sourced?
Who obtained the ingredients and were they treated fairly? A transparent company will be only to pleased to share this information.
How are the products packaged?
Sustainable skincare packaging is crucial. The beauty industry creates a lot of waste. And while recyclable packaging is a good start, it’s not the best option these days. Look out for companies using plastic-free packaging or biodegradable options instead.
How does the company manage resources and waste?
How does a company manage its water and energy? Does it buy energy from sustainable sources? And does it work hard to minimise any manufacturing by-products? Some companies offset their carbon or offer office recycling programs.
A lot of ethical brands have a dedicated giving policy these days. And they should be only too happy to tell you about that on their websites.
Let’s have a look at some brands that are taking steps to reduce their impact on the world.
Beauty Kubes creates plastic-free solid shampoo without sulphates, silicones or other environmentally damaging materials. The company’s manufacturing facility in Cornwall is powered by the sun and wind.
SBTRCT also makes solid shampoos and conditioners, extending its range to include balms and exfoliators. It’s made a conscious effort to reduce the water content that goes into its products. And all items are palm oil-free, vegan and come in 100% domestically compostable packaging,
Neal’s Yard Remedies was one of the first sustainable beauty companies in the UK. The family business launched in 1981 and in 2014 the Ethical Company Organisation awarded it 100% for ethics. Neal’s Yard has lobbied the government to ban microbeads in products in the country. And it also supports bee-friendly organisations.
At the other end of the scale is Flawless, a tiny company based in Wales. It may be small but its ethics are strong. Last year Flawless was named Vegan Cosmetics Company of the Year. And all of its products are hand-made in Wrexham.
Axiology is against the use of animal ingredients in its products, as well as testing on animals or selling to countries that test products on animals. It also donates to animal welfare organisations.
Sustainable Soapery is another small company with a big heart. All of its products are natural and hand-made. And the company strives for zero waste at all times. It’s all about soaps, hair and skincare for you and your pets.
Odylique uses the benefits of plants in its products. It avoids synthetic chemicals, sources its packaging in Europe and packs its deliveries with biodegradable nuggets that dissolve in water instead of polystyrene. Its extensive range includes eco-friendly makeup and sustainable skincare products.
Whether you already support sustainable brands or you’re just starting out on your journey, you’re making a positive effort for the good of the environment. The world needs more people like you!