Last week we talked all about sustainable fashion; this week, let's look at sustainable beauty!
When we think of beauty, the word sustainable usually isn't on our list of things to think about. Most of the time, it goes; is this moisturizer actually going to help my skin? Does this concealer actually cover my dark circles? And my personal favorite, this tiny bottle costs HOW MUCH?! Although it should be one of our top priories, I 100% get why it isn't. To be perfectly honest, the majority of the beauty industry still doesn't really promote sustainability as one of the primary benefits of their products. Yes, of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and some brands are doing great things to help promote the concept, but for the most part, sustainable beauty brands are not trending just yet.
Unlike fashion, beauty is a little more challenging when it comes to figuring out what is sustainable and what isn't. I mean, look at the ingredients list of your favorite lipstick; I guarantee you can't pronounce the names of at least five and have no idea what the hell the other five are, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the product is not sustainable. Beauty products are often extremely complex in nature. Unless you are a chemist, most do not understand the compounds used to create that beautiful silky eyeshadow that you swoon over every morning. In fashion, we see things like 100% organic cotton, and for the most part, we can decipher that a natural fiber is going to be better for the environment than most synthetic fibers (yes, I know sustainable fashion is more complicated than that, but stick with me for argument's sake). So how do we figure out what beauty products are more sustainable than others without the brand verbatim telling us? Well, here are a few ways you can make more sustainable choices when it comes to picking your beauty products.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The first thing that is probably INCREDIBLY obvious, but still INCREDIBLY important, is to look at the packaging. Is it made from recycled materials? If yes, it's definitely going to be more sustainable than the product packages that are not! Is it biodegradable or made out of recyclable material such as glass? If yes, again, a great sign! Most brands will have this or a recycling symbol printed on their products and the box or bag they come in, so this one is super easy to figure out.
2. Empties programs
Look out for empties programs or refill programs. Suppose a brand has invested time and money into creating a way for you to give them back your empties to be recycled and reused OR provides an easy way you can refill your products yourself. In that case, it is likely going to be more conscious of the waste it produces. So not only is this a great way to be more sustainable but gives you an indicator of the company as a whole. More than most likely, it's doing other things to promote sustainable beauty (Be careful, however, as Green Washing very much exists, so always try to look behind the curtain!).
3. Natural & Vegan is not always better.
So the term natural or Vegan doesn't necessarily mean sustainable. While most would believe these terms mean that the company is gung ho for that sustainable lifestyle if the natural or vegan products are being sourced in an unethical way or are ingredients that are difficult to grow and thus require huge energy consumption to produce on a mass scale etc. then sometimes those ingredients can be doing more harm than good. Ensure that your natural products are sustainable by going onto the companies website and checking out how they source their ingredients or where they are grown to get a better sense of just how sustainable those natural/vegan products are. Natural and Vegan doesn't mean bad (I personally own a lot) but doesn't necessarily mean good either.
For things like face masks and hair treatments, you can often make them yourself with just a few ingredients from your kitchen. You know exactly what everything is and how the product was made, and no extra packaging is needed. So if you can't find a sustainable version of your favorite product, go ahead and make that lip scrub yourself; I promise it's super easy and sometimes even works 10X better. Some of my favorites are mixing melted honey and coconut oil and leaving it in my hair for 15 minutes before rinsing it out or mixing up some brown sugar and coconut oil as a lip scrub!
5. Animal Testing
While this one is more about ethics than sustainability, I think most will agree that their lipstick isn't worth a bunny being subjected to intense suffering. Especially when there are plenty of other ways to test beauty products before they reach the shelves of Sephora, look for companies that specifically say they don't conduct testing on animals and check out your countries laws regarding cosmetics and skincare. Some countries require animal testing before products are sold within the said country, and if that's the case, if possible, I recommend getting products shipped from elsewhere.
6. Do your Research!
Although it's tempting to just stick with your favorite brands, do your researcher follow bloggers (like me…) that promote sustainable beauty on Instagram, read magazines, or even just do a quick google search. There are plenty of smaller brands out there, creating beautiful products that are sustainably made and usually 1/4 of the big-name brands' price. However, when buying from a new company, I highly recommend reading reviews and always remember when trying new products to do a swatch test to make sure that your skin doesn't react badly to the product.
7. Don't Forget the tools.
Beauty isn't just about products but also the tools used to use said products. Using washable cotton rounds or multi-use cotton buds, and even sustainable brushes are just as important!
So there we have it seven ways to make more sustainable choices with your beauty products! I understand sustainability is hard and often expensive, but there are little things everyone can do to help make sure we are heading towards a better future. Sustainability should no longer be an option, but a conscious choice we as consumers make to ensure our planet is liveable for our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. Now before I sound even more like a preaching mother here are a few brands that are paving the way in sustainable beauty.
Click on the links below to shop shop shop!
Plum | To Die for Face Packs
Pulp | A Millennials dream
Meow Meow Tweet | Known for their spots serum zit zapper
Honest Company | Can Jessica Alba do any wrong?
Earth Tu Face | Shell Packaging worthy of your vanity
The Good Stuff | Your hair will thank you trust me!
Bybi | Beauty on a budget
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