The beauty industry around the world has been growing and this success is mainly due to the rapid development of new products and skincare regimens evolving every day. But the environment is paying a charge at its expense for these beauty products with each passing day. The beauty and skincare industries have a notoriously adverse impact on the entire ecosystem.
The beauty industry, from some of its unlawful practices of developing skin care through toxic ingredients, animals or their by-products, or by testing them on animals, has been a highlight of how we have misused nature and how these things can lead to fatal consequences. The factors where our wildlife, marine-life, and forests are depleting is alarming. The over-abuse of the environment for our beauty needs can lead to more destruction than one can imagine. By unintentionally promoting these wrong practices of “clean/green-washing” by many brands, we’re also unknowingly contributing to unethical beauty.
Let us unfold some factors that will help us understand the pathway that leads to beauty standards that protect the environment and take care of an individual.
WHAT EXACTLY IS ETHICAL BEAUTY?
Ethical beauty begins with the truth. It can be the truth about sourcing organic and natural ingredients being cruelty-free, vegan, or how an organization treats its employees. Today, people want to buy products from brands that they connect with for being sustainable, transparent, and natural, leaving behind the era where beauty products were ladened with artificial ingredients and contributed consistently towards toxifying the environment.
The industry is filled with brands that claim that they’re ethical or sustainable, but most of them are either greenwashing or marketing gimmicks. The most basic beauty products, especially where skin and hair care are concerned, are laden with artificial preservatives, compounds, dyes, colors, fragrances, and other ingredients that harm the skin significantly. It’s vital to understand as a consumer what you are looking for and what makes the brand truly ethical and sustainable.
Let’s understand those five major aspects that are involved to categorize a brand/products as clean beauty and the myths related to their definitions, of which some brands take utmost advantage.
It takes subconscious effort and a lot of research for any consumer who decides to choose sustainable beauty and therefore, these factors/features of any brand or product are to be measured clearly before you take your first step towards supporting nature:
Animal-cruelty has been a harsh practice in the beauty industry where products are tested on animals at any stage during development or post production for skin and eye irritation. Hypo allergen testing is carried out on rats, rabbits, and even guinea pigs, which lead to adverse effects on these animals and in some cases also lead to their death.
Through popular marketing tricks, a product/brand might claim itself to be cruelty-free but could still contain animal ingredients. In all possibilities, to get animal ingredients, a life would be put on stake. The product may also contain palm oil, an ingredient that causes destruction of thousands of hectares of rain forests and all the animals that live in them.
This brings us back to the question: Is the brand/product in all senses truly cruelty-free? Lastly, if they’re not clean/natural, then the production has had an adverse effect on the health of our ecosystem and subsequently our wildlife.
The beauty giants sell the fact that if the beauty products aren’t tested on animals, they might not be safe for human use, which is an absolute myth.
Several alternatives where beauty products are clinically tested and the ingredients in use are safe and free of allergens are used by vegan brands, which are as effective as their counterparts, leaving it for the consumers to make informed decisions.
Your definition of vegan can be just food at first thought, but it goes beyond that. A vegan beauty product eliminates any form of animal ingredients: direct or derived from animals irrespective of the fact that the ingredient derivation harms the animal or not. Beauty products, at first glance, may not look full of animal products. However, you will see with a closer look the beeswax within your lip balms and squalane derived from the livers of sharks in your serums, which are crossing the thin line of being clean/sustainable beauty. Ingredients like beeswax, lanolin, carmines, squalene, gelatins, and so many more are either extracted by gravely harming animals’ habitats or merciless killing of the animals they are extracted from.
A consumer must look at what the raw materials are and how they’re sourced by the brand to make the right choice of picking products that are truly vegan.
Did you know that there’s a myth that vegan beauty products are far more expensive and do not last longer than regular brands?
Vegan-friendly skincare is as long-lasting as any other brand and also fits the budget. Therefore, it becomes a consumer’s conscious choice to not fall for ploys and make their choice for a better environment.
Non-toxic beauty defines itself by claims of eliminating ingredients believed to be toxic and not contain any GMOs, artificial preservatives, herbicides, parabens, SLS, or any other toxic ingredients that deeply affect the skin and the environment, which can lead to fatal diseases in humans.
It is only with a steady watch on the ingredient list that a consumer differentiates a truly non-toxic brand from a brand that often “clean washes” it’s products to make them seem more natural or safe. Words such as clean, non-toxic, and natural are not regulated by the FDA on labels, so it's for the consumer to understand what they look for in ethically sound beauty.
Did you know that most brands vaguely “clean-wash” themselves as being free of toxins, parabens, and SLS just to fall under the category of safe brands, but their productions emit grave chemicals polluting our marine life and ecosystem?
A consumer must avoid these fake claims and intentionally read through their ingredient list to ensure they’re making the right choice.
4. NATURAL & ORGANIC:
Products categorized as natural are made with ingredients sourced from nature, be it plants, minerals or animals, whereas products that are prepared and grown without pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, parabens, SLS, or GMOs are termed organic. Any ethical and transparent brand will always mention what percentages of its ingredients are “natural” and “organic,” separately, making it easier for the consumer to select the best products for themselves.
It's a common myth that these natural products wouldn't last long due to the lack of chemical preservatives. On the contrary, these products are preserved in airtight pumps and they are preserved well through some harmless preservatives reducing the threat caused to the environment.
5. SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES:
Sustainability is not just limited to a brand being cruelty-free, non-toxic, or clean. It is comprehensively how a brand sources its ingredients and how transparent the ingredient sourcing, production, and business ethics is.
Aspects like thoughtful packaging, which are eco-friendly, recyclable, and reusable, reflects any brand’s ethics and means that a lot of care has been taken beyond the ingredients themselves. A brand must be aware of its supply chains, the raw materials, and goods being sourced at fair prices, and it should make sure that its suppliers are devoted to positive ecological and societal impact and providing a safe working environment to its employees.
Not just this, brands that really care about the impact they’re having on the environment and wish to transform the space take lengthy measures to ensure they have exceptional waste and resource management policies. It’s also very stirring to see that a lot of ethical brands have a dedicated giving policy, either through every product bought by an individual or yearly charity to what they are passionate about. Some key players have themselves set charitable trusts to drive impactful work in areas they care about the most, thus setting a pathway for others to follow.
Sustainable packaging isn’t great for storing the beauty products in the long-run is a common myth or excuse among many beauty giants to avoid trouble or being questioned.
It is important for a consumer to invest their trust in a brand that is thoughtful in its packaging, takes utmost care of our nature, and understands its value.
WHY MUST WE DEVIATE TOWARDS ETHICAL BEAUTY?
The use of plants, natural ingredients, and the use of nature to take care of our skin and hair has been an age-old practice. Before the world began to treat their skin with moisturizers, acid-based serums, and hair conditioners, people used fruits, flowers, herbs, and medicinal plants for their skincare.
With science and research, we now have an abundance of natural plant ingredients that surpass the effect of lab-grown chemicals. Clean and ethical beauty are effective and there are no harmful aspects attached to harm both our skin and the environment through their constant usage, which automatically means less toxins entering your body, no skin irritations, and a lower risk of cancer and hormonal imbalances. Thus, it is a completely beneficial practice to adapt and follow.
Whether you already support an ethical brand or you’re beginning your journey towards sustainable beauty, the effort is positive and conscious and is a step toward improving our environment.
Small but incremental steps can begin the journey of transformation, not just for the consumer but for brands as well. This initiates the practice for others to walk on the same ethical pathway of sustainable or “green” beauty.
The term mindful consumerism is what drives the change with consumers changing their buying exercises and habits eventually. Ethical and clean beauty is a philosophy that sits well with an individual that reflects to achieve healthy and happy skin. Beauty is not achieved through glossy skin or flawless makeup by jeopardizing the entire ecosystem of plants and animals but by accepting your skin and nurturing and caring for it in sustainable ways for your personal and the environment’s well-being.