Conscious Beauty: The Starter Pack
We think twice if a beauty product hurts our wallet, but why don’t we think as much if it hurts the environment? Therefore, we have compiled a list of some of the eco-friendly and ethically conscious beauty brands for you to choose from, or at least open your mind to.
September 04, 2017
It’s an ugly realization when you know how much your beauty regime hurts the environment. All the chemicals, the plastic packaging, and the unethical sourcing that the cosmetic industry is involved in are really taking a toll on the world we’re living in. In short, there’s an environmental price to your skin pampering.
Despite the glamor of it all, there are aspects of the beauty industry—important ones too—that everyone should know more about, including the products’ contents and their effects on the environment. Can such beautiful things really be that harmful? Well, they can and they are. Over time, chemicals and plastics from products that we use daily pollute our oceans which, in turn, harm marine wildlife and disrupt ecosystems on various levels. With very few regulations on what can and can’t be included in your beauty products, finding honest and transparent brands has become even more essential.
In the vast ocean that is the beauty industry it is quite easy to drown in all the information, including the ethical guidelines and/or regulations the different brands do (or don’t) abide by: everything from animal testing, organic, toxin free, cruelty free, sweatshops, ethical labor, environmentally friendly, gluten free, where do you even begin!?
One of the obvious environmental concerns of the cosmetics and beauty industry is the plastic containers that eventually end up in the oceans and landfills around the world.
Parabens are chemical preservatives, along with avobenzone, oxybenzone, and other benzo- chemicals, that are commonly used in cosmetic products such as sunscreens, body lotions, scrubs, shampoos, and conditioners, in order to stop the growth of bacteria. But these very chemicals also kill coral and accumulate in marine animals’ tissues, disrupting their hormone and endocrine functions.
Another major problem for the environment and our health is caused by the tiny plastic particles found in body scrubs, shower gels, mineral-based powders, and makeups that are meant to exfoliate your skin. These so called "microbeads” are made from chemical polyethylene that wash down your drain and end up in the oceans. Many of these products contain the microbead equivalent of a plastic bottle!
A lesser known chemical you should avoid is triclosan, which prevents and kills the growth of certain microorganisms. Present in various makeup products, soaps, shaving products, toothpastes even, and other skin care products, triclosan disrupts hormones and contributes to bacterial resistance. When entering our waters, triclosan builds up in the ocean and reduces the lifespan of marine wildlife.
A majority of perfumes, perfumed skin care products such as body lotions, fragranced soaps, hair sprays, shampoos, and nail polishes, all contain different variations of phthalates. The chemicals are used for different reasons, but are hormone and endocrine disruptors, causing a vast array of physical and physiological disorders. Despite the evidence of health concerns, these substances have yet to be regulated and do not even need to be listed on product packaging as they are often used in the packaging, which then crosses over into the products themselves.
Short of making your own products or buying from highly reputable health and environmentally conscious product lines, it can be difficult to avoid all of the negative ingredients and their consequences. However, it does help to educate yourself. For example, while “fragrance” is often listed as an ingredient in the vast majority of skin care and beauty products worldwide to protect brands’ “secret” blends, this vaguely worded ingredient is actually a concoction of chemicals that various brands do not have to specify. This means that the fragrance mixture could possibly (and legally) contain toxins that may actually be banned and/or are likely harmful to you, the environment, and untold marine life. So take a peek at the ingredients list and stay away from products that include the vaguely worded “fragrance”.
“Vegan” beauty products have made it big in recent years, if you want to go down that route. In terms of beauty, “vegan” products follow the general philosophy of veganism, i.e using no animal or animal-derived ingredients. “Clean” products have also become something of a trend too: “clean” referring to ingredients (whether natural or man-made) that were avidly researched and tested and determined to be safe for your health and the environment.
Are you even more confused now after learning a bit more about it? It certainly is both scary and confusing. To help you navigate this minefield and give you the opportunity to make conscious purchasing decisions with your makeup and beauty products, we have selected a noble few to help you get started. Environmentally conscious and toxin- and cruelty-free are just a few of the criteria these brands have in common.
Their “Never List” contains 1,500 chemicals banned from use in their products. They also educate and guide their customers in the right direction on their website.Caudalie Paris
The French cosmetics brand has made a name for itself with its firm ethical stand against animal testing, use of toxins, and degradation of the environment. Founders Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas also work to protect the environment as part of the 1% for the Planet movement, planting trees and donating a portion of their proceeds to global NPO’s with the same values. Cultivar
Cultivar is an organic, plant-based skin and body care brand with a transparent and ethical stance on everything from their ingredients to their production and packaging materials. Estelle & Thild
Swedish-based beauty brand Estelle & Thild offers bioactive and certified organic ingredients in all of their products, ultimately inspired to create something honest and pure for the future.Hug Organics
A go-to Thai beauty brand devoted to natural extract and eco-conscious products such as hair care products, body scrubs, and coconut oils. They even supplying ethical toiletries. Kahina
Kahina uses ancestral traditions and knowledge, in combination with modern technology, to create high quality skin and body care products. The brand offers a vast range of argan oils, facial and body creams, and various serums and soaps. Lush
Handmade, 100% vegetarian, and actively fighting the practices of animal testing, Lush is known for both its ethical ideals and its soaps, bath bombs, and cosmetics line all with a touch of fun. MŪN
Specializing in argan and prickly pear seed oil, MŪN focuses upon 100% natural, vegan, cruelty-free, organic, and sustainably-sourced ingredients, working with a community of women in Morocco. A portion of their profits circles back to Morocco, funding education, healthcare, and scholarships for women in the area. Neal’s Yard Remedies
Continuously fighting for both the environment and people’s well being, one blue bottle at the time, Neal’s Yard Remedies uses only plant-based ingredients. The British brand is the posterchild for honesty and transparency. PAÑPURI
Advocating a 100% Natural and Organic Wellness Lifestyle, Thailand-based PAÑPURI’s approach to its products is clean and simple: natural and organic orientation without the use of toxic, synthetic and potentially harmful ingredients.Pai
The sustainable, plant-based beauty brand Pai is the savior for people with sensitive skin. Dedicated to leveling the plainfield, the toxin- and animal-cruelty free brand offers moisturizers, eye creams, oils, serums, masks, skin cleansers, and exfoliators. Supergoop
The minimalist-style sunscreen and skincare brand provides a cruelty- and toxin-free alternative in an SPF market that hasn’t changed in years. Tata Harper
Manufacturing and harvesting happens at their farm in Vermont, where they do their own research to ensure the highest quality control practices. True Botanicals
Manufactured in California, their products are all made of natural ingredients such as beeswax, seed and root oils, algae and leaf extracts, and naturally occurring chemicals. Vintner's Daughter
The brand sources the world’s finest raw ingredients in order to create the ultimate facial oil: Active Botanical Serum. Vitner Daughter also donates 2% of each purchase to charities dedicated to protecting, educating, and empowering women and children worldwide.
Finally, if you are one of those people who wants to explore further, websites such as Oleaf Organic, Credo Beauty, Follain
, and Content
could help ease those desires. You can also visit Skin Deep
to check the various products actual ingredients and the harm they may cause to both you and others with an easy to understand point rating system.
- neal's yard remedies,
- tata harper,
- true botanicals,
- vintner's daughter,
- credo beauty,