Sustainable beauty products are made with consideration to the environment and those who depend on it. It focuses on creating high-quality products that are manufactured ethically and include eco-friendly ingredients. Consumers who are interested in sustainable beauty look for items that meet their needs, are safe for humans to use, and cause less damage to the Earth.
By Tess DiNapoli
Beauty manufacturers can become planet-friendly by consuming fewer resources, producing less waste, and using renewable ingredients. Here are a few other things a company might do to be considered sustainable:
Carbon dioxide is naturally present in trace amounts inside the atmosphere, but the manufacturing of certain products can pump high levels of carbon dioxide into the air. This high concentration can cause health problems among humans and contribute to greenhouse gas buildup, expediting global warming and increasing pollution levels. The goal for many sustainable beauty brands is to keep their CO2 emissions low so they don’t leave a carbon footprint.
Packaging materials that are not recyclable or sustainable can end up in landfills where they take decades to decompose. As they compose, they release harmful CO2 and greenhouse gases. A lot of brands use unnecessary packing that could easily be reduced without affecting the product. Many sustainable beauty brands work to reduce the amount of packaging they produce and use for their products. For some, the packaging they use is made from eco-friendly materials that can easily be recycled and reused.
Beauty products can contain components that are harmful to the environment and are not sustainable to produce. While these ingredients are common in many ingredients lists, greener brands typically choose to leave them out or replace them with more planet-safe options. If you are planning to buy sustainable beauty products, be on the lookout for:
- Parabens —These chemicals are found in many products, including facial washes, shampoos, and conditioners. They are added to help products last longer and increase their shelf life, but they can cause serious health problems. Parabens have been linked to hormone imbalances and fertility issues, as well as skin and hair problems.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate —Used to create bubbly suds, this chemical is often added to face washes, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, and other soap products. Sodium laureth sulfate can leach into the ground and has been known to cause allergies and skin irritations while also stripping the body’s natural oils from the skin.
- Phthalates —These chemicals are added to deodorants, perfumes, and even scented cosmetics and beauty products. Phthalates help make the plastic that is used in these products more flexible so it can stick to the skin more easily. This allows fragrances to last longer on the skin and can improve the wearability of products. Unfortunately, phthalates can cause problems with the lungs, liver, and reproductive organs. If released into the environment, it will harm the plants, animals, and people who never intended to use them.
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene —This group of chemicals is used to make products last longer and can be found in a variety of lotions, body washes, hair products, and cosmetics. Not only does it cause problems with air quality, but it can also lead to health problems in the user. Butylated hydroxytoluene has been found to degrade lung tissue and cause skin irritation.
The beauty industry brings in billions of dollars every year and produces billions of products for consumers. That being said, the ingredients and packaging materials they use directly contribute to worldwide pollution problems. By choosing Earth-friendly beauty brands, consumers can reduce their impact on the environment and support companies that are aligned with their ethics.
Sustainable beauty is also important for the health of its consumers. The negative effects of these products may not be noticeable in small doses at first. As they build up in the body through frequent use, however, the chance you’ll experience health problems increases.
Consumers who want to be more responsible when shopping for beauty products research to see which brands are sustainable and which are not. Here are some tips to jumpstart your journey into eco-friendly beauty:
Pay attention to how brands are creating their products, shipping them, and sourcing them. Many companies share their sustainability statements to help customers feel better about buying their products. If research isn’t your thing, you can often find lists online of responsibly sourced alternatives to the makeup, lashes, and brush sets you’re currently using.
Some brands don’t just focus on making their products sustainable: they’re also in programs that actively work to make the world better. Think fair trade initiatives where workers are given a livable wage. Many brands even donate a portion of their sales to these programs to ensure they can continue to operate successfully. Knowing your purchase is helping fund these efforts can give you some peace of mind about your beauty practices.
Packaging products are one of the leading causes of pollution. Many ethical beauty brands use shipping and packaging materials that are completely recyclable to help reduce their waste and lower CO2 emissions.
Look around to see which brands are certified cruelty-free and if they’re owned by larger companies that use animal testing. You may think you’re supporting a smaller brand and making a statement against animal cruelty, but it’s all for naught if your money is just going into the pocket of a big corporation. Also, keep in mind that beauty tools and products that are using vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, and sustainable ingredients will likely be more expensive because they cost more to manufacture.
If you use a lot of beauty products and are worried about the effect this use could have on the environment and your health, adopting a sustainable, eco-friendly approach is one way to be more responsible. Supporting beauty brands that rely on renewable ingredients, production practices, shipping, and sourcing methods allows you to make a difference. Before buying another lipstick or bottle of shampoo, be mindful and check to see if that product is doing you or the planet any favors.