Wellness and beauty makes us feel good and helps to boost our self-esteem - and often it’s been these little acts of self-care that have kept us sane over the last 12+ months. We find the iconic quote from Anya Hindmarch “If in doubt, wash your hair” words to live by at times!
However, the beauty industry comes with quite a heavy environmental price - from the chemicals used in the formulas to the frequent new product launches and (often) excessive packaging - and much of the industry needs an environmentally friendly makeover...
The green beauty phenomenon was born out of a search for transparency and a desire for more sustainable practices. Many sustainable beauty brands have managed to harness the power of natural ingredients to create healthier products, with less environmentally damaging packaging - without compromising on efficiency and effectiveness.
So today, we wanted to shed the light on those brands that are as concerned with leaving the right kind of planet to our children as we are, guided by ethical values and a strong will to make a change.
What does sustainability look like in the beauty industry?
Sustainability in beauty can have many touch points! Much like our practices at BLANC, ‘sustainability’ can have a true 360 view here: be that in creating the formulas, manufacturing, testing, packaging and employee practices.
Take a minute to look out for the brands that are doing better and avoiding the detrimental, toxic chemicals and unethical production methods! To help you out, here are some key certifications that allow you to avoid greenwashing and help to find the brands that are doing good!
1. Independently certified ‘cruelty-free status’: Claims such as "cruelty-free" or "not tested on animals" may only refer to the finished product, not the individual ingredient, when sadly, nearly all animal testing occurs at the ingredient level. It may also be wise to mention here that brands might claim they don’t test on animals but still outsource to other companies to do the testing for them.
According to Cruelty-Free International, “the only way to be 100% certain a company is cruelty-free is to buy products from companies that have been certified by the Leaping Bunny Program”. This ensures that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, it's laboratories, or ingredient suppliers.
2. Vegan ingredients: Many brands do use animal by-products for their beauty products and not all of them are bad, especially if they have been sourced responsibly. See PETA’s website for a comprehensive list of animal products used in skincare. If you are vegan, however, or making a concerted effort to avoid animal products, check for the official ‘Vegan’ symbol on the box or website of the brand.
3. Local production of packaging and products: If a brand produces both packaging and products locally, the economic and environmental benefits are endless - fewer Air Miles for products and ingredients to travel, employment of the local community and circular investment on home soil - win, win!
4. Plastic-free, zero waste & refillable packaging: This one hopefully speaks for itself! Most brands doing this should be shouting this from the rooftops, so it won’t be hard to find (see below for our picks). Try to vote with your wallet on this one, if you can, and plump for less or environmentally smarter packaging!
5. Palm oil exclusion: Sadly, palm oil has a way of worming its way into a lot of supply chains and it's one of the key contributors to deforestation, which in turn, is “destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, pygmy elephant and Sumatran rhino”. It pays dividends to try and avoid palm oil, where possible.
6. Clear supply chains & sustainable production methods: The more a brand displays about its production methods and supply chains, the better. This is where greenwashing lurks in the shadows! In the beauty industry, the ingredient supply chains can be intensive and the production methods unsustainable. Look for clear information on where a product has been created as well as details about the ingredients sourcing and manufacturing process.
7. Clean or naturally derived ingredients: If you are a highly ingredient-conscious customer, and want to keep your products as ‘clean’ as possible, there are a few certifications that might help you on your search! Ecocert Cosmos guarantees a range of sustainable and clean beauty practices, including the absence of petrochemical ingredient (except for authorised preservatives): parabens, phenoxyethanol, perfumes and synthetic colourants. Made Safe is a not-for-profit certification that screens products against its list of harmful or hazardous chemicals.
Here's a roundup of our favourite green brands to eco up your beauty routine:
BYBI beauty started in 2017, in Elsie and Dominika’s kitchen, and quickly became known for their “truly clean, yet high performing formulas” using natural, vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. They have swiftly moved on from their flat kitchen to a state of the art lab in central London, where they continue to innovate in the skincare sphere.
BYBI Beauty is loudly praised for its products and its planet-friendly practices: they release an annual impact report, have pledged to be carbon neutral and do not shy away from telling us how it is (environmentally speaking) on their website, and we love it.
Pai takes the environmental side of skincare very seriously. Born out of the founder’s struggle with their own sensitive skin, Pai has been a firm favourite amongst sensitive skin types for a long while. They seem to fly under the radar a little, but they are definitely worth checking out and independently certified (vegan, leaping bunny and organic). The website also features an in-depth breakdown of how each product should be recycled, along with the parcel’s packaging too.
The clue is in the name with this one really! They are all about ‘upcycling’ and reducing waste within the beauty industry. We love the fact that they use off-cut ingredients (coffee granules for scrubs, powdered fruit stones, repurposed chai spices...) that would simply be wasted, otherwise. Using Cosmos approved ingredients, they also offer a re-fill option - oh and you also save 20% when you refill your products if there wasn’t enough incentive.
Susanne Kaufmann is a sleek, effective and transparent beauty. This brand doesn’t just source natural ingredients and call it quits, but they ensure that the production processes they use are sustainable too. They use renewable sources (solar and thermal energy) to power their production facilities, and engage in responsible sourcing, for their botanical ingredients. To top it off, they have innovative refillable packaging. Look here for a lineup of bath, body, home and skincare.
For The Body
Ren was one of the first skincare brands on the block to really champion environmental initiatives, with a big focus on protecting oceans (they were born in Australia after all!). Many people don’t realise, but as sunscreen washes off into our waterways and oceans, the toxic chemicals used in SPF by many mainstream brands can have an adverse impact on the ocean’s ecosystem, on the corals (bleaching) and can induce defects in fish and dolphins. One of their hero products is Ren’s ‘Clean Screen Mineral SPF’ - it is mineral-based and far less environmentally damaging than your typical SPF.
Wild deodorant was not the first natural deodorant to grace our shelves, but it was the one that seemed to capture the public's attention and hit the mainstream. The packaging is innovative, they offer refill options and the scents have been hailed loudly. The products are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, dermatologically tested and free from artificial fragrance, parabens, aluminium and sulfates to boot. For every deodorant that is sold, they contribute a percentage of their sales to our chosen climate charity 'On A Mission', to support reforestation projects.
A serious innovator in their field, DAME creates ‘climate positive periods’. The amount of plastic that goes into creating sanitary products is nothing short of astounding. DAME creates reusable sanitary products that look equally stylish too. There isn’t any greenwashing marketing here either - they provide an impact report as well as resources for parents and schools to educate their pupils on periods.
Conventional nail varnish is chocked full of harsh chemicals that are damaging to health if inhaled and the planet when created and discarded. In addition to that, nail polish and its removers are considered hazardous waste because they are both toxic and flammable... ouch. This essentially means that when we discard of nail varnish, it can sit in a landfill and leach toxic elements, for example “toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (among others)” into the earth and soil.
Danish nail brand Nail Kind is trying to tackle this: not only do they offer a covetable lineup of nail colours, but the formulation of their products is vegan and up to 85% bio-sourced ingredients (mineral and plant-based ingredients such as potato, corn and wheat). Seriously innovative and impressive, we hope that other brands follow suit!
As stated on the Face Halo website, in block capitals: “WIPES MAKE UP 93% OF MATTER CAUSING GLOBAL SEWER AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES” - this statement, following the jarring video breaking down what a ‘fatberg’ is, is well worth a watch and far from pretty. Face Halo provides the best alternative - a reusable pad that removes make-up, without the waste and nasty chemicals. As an added benefit, these pads have also been life-changing to those with skin conditions that were aggravated by traditional make-up removers. We have had friends and family recommending these for years already, but it’s truly time to ditch the wipes for good.