Home Magazine Save the Planet and Save Your Beauty: Your Basic Guide to Sustainable Cosmetics

Save the Planet and Save Your Beauty: Your Basic Guide to Sustainable Cosmetics

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When you decide to become more eco-friendly, you might first think of informed consumption, waste sorting, and reusing diverse products. But there is also another area where changes can boost your contribution to solving environmental problems — the beauty industry.

In the last few years, the trend of sustainable cosmetics has been growing rapidly. And since people are interested in this category of goods, more and more companies, from small ones to conglomerates, have chosen to implement environmentally-friendly principles. If you want to learn more and need a quick introduction to the topic, read on and get a brief description of the main features of sustainable beauty.

Aspects of Sustainability in the Beauty Industry

The effectiveness of skincare products has always been important for customers, but now, we can also check their impact on the ecosystem. This includes many elements, from the absence of dangerous chemicals in the composition to recyclable packaging to the innovative manufacturing processes that lead to a reduced carbon footprint. Below, we’ve gathered all those fundamental features and divided them into three major groups. Let’s check them out!

Brands and Companies

Becoming environmentally conscious in terms of using sustainable skincare starts by checking whether your favorite or a widely advertised brand is eco-friendly. First, you can simply browse their assortment and pay attention to the certifications they have. Second, search for the company’s official mission and values that are often mentioned on their website. And third, you can try to find information about the points listed below.

1. Using or testing the sources of renewable energy

Sustainable beauty brands focus equally on the quality of their products and the specifics of the manufacturing processes. Hence, energy management is among the priorities of sustainable brands. They also choose suppliers and outsource factories that have the same position and use renewable sources.

2. Using local ingredients and improving transportation

Getting necessary ingredients locally solves several problems at once. It allows the companies to better control the production and quality of the raw materials they buy. It decreases the need for transportation and simplifies logistics, which in turn, cuts down carbon footprints.

3. Supporting eco-initiatives

The brands with a green mindset launch eco-initiatives or support some third-party ones. They can offer refillable packaging or take it back for recycling and join eco-related movements. They also exclude microbeads from their products: for example, choose bio-glitter made of cellulose instead.  

Products

One of the main controversial points regarding beauty products’ sustainability is the use of synthetic ingredients. For instance, the production of palm oil can be harmful to the environment while biosynthetic vitamins C or A are safe and beneficial. Many synthetic ingredients are just replicas of the natural ones on the molecular level, so they have the same qualities. And meanwhile, their production is not damaging to the ecosystem and requires fewer resources (e.g., water), which makes them a good alternative.

Moreover, there are hardly “chemical-free” products just because of the industry’s specifics — all eco-friendly beauty products still require and have some helpful chemicals in the composition. So, in this post, let’s explore the sustainability of cosmetics in terms of not their ingredients but of other aspects.

1. Concentrated products

Concentrated cosmetics meet several sustainability requirements. First, they have less water in the composition, which also allows companies to reduce the transportation-caused footprint. Second, such products can be used longer because of the number of active ingredients and their effect, and it leads to less frequent purchases too. The most common examples of such products are facial serums, hair serums, cleansing bars, and more.

2. Waterless products

Some benefits of waterless products are similar to the above ones, including transportation, the period of use, and lower consumption of resources. Also, such sustainable beauty products need less packaging and are more convenient during traveling. You only have to add a bit of water to make the product work, be it some kind of dry shampoo, a hair conditioner bar, or a facial cleansing bar.

3. Products with upcycled ingredients

This category of cosmetics is not as popular as previous ones, but it is steadily becoming a global trend. In general, it includes some ingredients that could otherwise be banished to landfills, like fruit seeds, coffee grounds, and others. For this purpose, cosmetics manufacturers can cooperate with local coffee shops and other suppliers.

4. Multi-purpose products

Now, this trend is mostly related to makeup. Brands put the environment first place and offer 2-in-1 and even 3-in-1 products. For example, some eyeshadows can be used as a highlighter, blushers can be used as tints, etc.

5. Reusable products

Some disposable items you use every day can be replaced with more eco-friendly ones, like with reusable cotton swabs and pads. There are also trendy konjac sponges and reusable razors. Choosing even a few of the mentioned positions will make you more environmentally conscious.

Packaging

Quite a big percentage of plastic wrappers, bottles, and other kinds of packaging are not recycled. This results in overflowing landfills, growing marine plastic pollution, and harm to the ecosystem in general. That is why more and more companies choose sustainable packaging for cosmetics, including the next types:

1. Reusable

This category involves two main options: The package is reused by customers or by organizations. In the first case, small glass jars can be used for storage, craft paper is still perfect for wrapping, and carton boxes suit well for crafting projects. In the other case, the package is sent to the manufacturer or to some specific initiatives that can reuse it.

2. Refillable and large packages

Such a system allows you to refill an original empty packaging with a new product. It can be done at the same company’s shop or wholesale distributor stores. Also, it can be more eco-friendly to buy in bulk for items like shampoo or hand wash. Hence, you use less plastic than when buying multiple, smaller items.

3. Recyclable and recycled packaging

These are the most commonly known types. The first is suitable for recycling while the second is already made of recycled materials. These options contain either paper or some kind of plastic.

4. Biodegradable

It has a huge advantage as it neither requires specific recycling nor does harm to the planet. These are mostly plastic-free options, for example, bamboo toothbrushes. Given the fact that they should be replaced every three months, such a small change in your shopping list will have a high value.

The Downside of the Sustainable Beauty Industry

The most critical problem in this area is that there is no official definition for “organic cosmetics” and “natural products”. Of course, the companies that want to get such eco-labels must meet a list of strict requirements, but those requirements can differ from one certifying organization to another. Also, some natural ingredients still contain allergens and can cause a skin reaction.

Another tricky moment is that not all sustainable cosmetics are really eco-friendly. Although they can consist of only non-toxic and organic ingredients, other aspects may be lacking. Since a complex approach matters a lot in this case, even a perfect composition loses ground if the manufacturer causes environmental pollution during production or transportation or offers non-recyclable packaging.

What Can You Do to Start Being Eco-Friendly?

It is easy to find yourself a little confused by such an amount of information. Because the main question is: “How can I start switching to a sustainable beauty routine?” So, here we provide a few simple steps that lay a good foundation.

  • Don’t throw away all your non-sustainable cosmetics—it won’t benefit the environment. Finish them instead, and use this time to search for better alternatives. However, the rule of “finishing before buying a replacement” is true for sustainable products too.
  • Analyze your skincare routine and honestly decide whether you really need so many items or if your skin looks great even when you use just a few of them. Then, do the same inventory analysis with makeup products.
  • Be mindful about buying new products and take time to think if you really need them.
  • Check out local recycling organizations and refilling programs. If you have non-recyclable packaging, try to reuse it.

Summing Up

Going eco-friendly takes time. But the market always takes the demands of the customers into account. So, the more we choose natural cosmetics, the more options we’ll be offered. The only things we should do is adapt our beauty routines to a few new rules and get used to unusual forms of familiar cosmetics products. All in all, it’s important to make changes for the better, even if they seem small. Small efforts made by each of us can result in a better future inside and out of the beauty industry.

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