Sustainable or ethical beauty is no longer far from us. We have heard these terms quite often in recent years. While the sustainable and environmentally friendly impact in fashion is reflected in the beauty industry, many brands have become more transparent and more sensitive to the materials they choose in their production processes. However, labels on beauty products such as ‘vegan,’ ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ can sometimes be misleading. It takes hours of research to find out if a product is truly ‘eco-friendly’ as it says on it. While some brands stick these ‘green’ labels to truly sustainable or unethical products with the so-called ‘greenwashin’ trend, luckily there are also truly eco-friendly and ethical beauty brands!
If you want to be a more sensitive consumer and contribute to the environment, you can turn to environmentally-friendly and zero-waste beauty brands. You may be wondering what the ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ beauty brands advocate and how they produce. In order to be a more conscious consumer, you can examine the features of sustainable and ethical beauty brands and their difference from other brands below.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL BEAUTY?
There are many explanations for this and therefore there can be confusion. The use of these concepts is often not included in legal regulations, so brands can use the concepts of ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’ as they wish. A brand can claim to be ethical or sustainable, but it can also be just a marketing or ‘greenwashing’ method! The important thing is to determine what you are looking for. There are many factors that make a brand ethical and sustainable, but what is most important to you?
HOW DO WE KNOW IF A PRODUCT IS SUSTAINABLE?
This may be the biggest and most important question! The list of things to make a product or brand ethical and sustainable can take pages. First of all, we should know that no product or beauty brand is ‘perfect’. We should mention that there is a wide spectrum in this regard. The best thing you can do is find beauty brands that strive to make the world a better place. And believe us, there are many brands like this! First of all, for a product to be sustainable and ethical, its ingredients must be cruelty-free, non-toxic, vegan and palm oil-free. In addition, the brand itself must maintain ethical resources, thoughtful packaging, resource and waste regulation, and donation systems.
DO YOU HAVE RELIABLE SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL LABELS?
We used to not read product labels, but now we are all much more conscious! We pay much more attention to labels in terms of content and methods. It is possible to see labels such as ‘cruelty-free,’ ‘organic’ or ‘vegan’ on the products of beauty brands that claim to be sustainable and ethical. Finding products that mark all of these categories is among the positive steps you can take in terms of sustainability. But what makes a brand ethical? While filling two boxes, the other two boxes may remain empty. Therefore, you can see the explanation of all of these categories below:
- Cruelty-free: Products that have not been tested on animals in any production step have this label. Even though a beauty product is labeled ‘cruelty-free’, it may contain animal ingredients.
- Vegan: Beauty products that do not contain any animal ingredients have this label. Vegan products contain palm tree oil. However, environmentally damaging ingredients can sometimes have a vegan label. Vegan labels do not prove that a product is completely organic or natural. This information will surprise you, but it is possible that only some beauty products with the ‘vegan’ label have been tested on animals!
- Non Toxic: Products with this label do not contain GMOs, manufactured herbicides, artificial fertilizers, preservatives, parabens or other toxic ingredients. While products with these labels are often organic, if a product only has this label, in some cases it may contain animal ingredients and have been tested on animals. There are a lot of ‘greenwashing’ methods applied on ‘Organic’ and ‘Natural’. For this reason, you can note that products with this label are also in other categories.
- Palm Tree Oil-Free: This label is the rarest label among sustainable and ethical beauty products. Beauty products with this label do not contain palm tree oil and its derivatives that are harmful to the environment. However, if a product has only this label, then it may also contain animal substances that have been tested on animals.
FULLY SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL SEARCH FOR PRODUCTS
After reading the above information, you may have been confused and felt like you could never achieve a completely sustainable and ethical product. But don’t let perfectionism get in your way. We may not always be able to tick all the boxes, but it’s better than nothing! However, if a product contains all of its labels: cruelty-free, vegan, non-toxic and palm tree oil-free, you can rest easy. If you cannot see some labels but only two or one, you may still think that this product is less harmful to the environment.
WHAT DOES SUSTAINABLE AND ETHICAL BRAND PRACTICES MEAN?
Unlike the content, the systems and processes of the brands are of great importance in terms of ethics and sustainability. Although many brands are not transparent in this regard, beauty brands that are completely sustainable emphasize these issues. Below you can see the descriptions of these categories:
- Considerate Packaging: Thoughtful packaging or packaging is very important in terms of waste! Beauty brands that recycle packaging or prefer sustainable materials reduce the damage to the environment. You can be careful that brands that use plastic prefer recycled materials, or you can turn to beauty brands that use aluminum and glass packaging.
- Ethical Resources: Ethical resources are one of the most important factors that determine whether a company is sustainable. This is a little different from the ingredients. Among the principles of this factor are the brands’ methods of reaching resources, their sensitivity about the production chain, their equal treatment of local employees and their safe working environment in the production process.
- Resource and Waste Management: Beauty brands that pay attention to their environmental impact operate quite comprehensive resource and waste management policies. This includes factors such as water and energy management, use of renewable energy, zero waste policy, carbon footprint and recycling programs.
- Social responsibility: Companies’ donation policies are among the things that make beauty brands ethical. Brands that donate income to environmental foundations and institutions are not only sustainable, but also thoughtful and ethical. You can follow the social responsibility projects of brands from their social media accounts and websites.
It may seem like being a savvy consumer is a very demanding task. However, as it is always said, the slightest changes made by a single person in consumption can have great effects on the environment. For this reason, you can support the restructuring of nature with the changes you make in your life and beauty shopping. At the end of the day, the beauty brand you bought may not be filling all the ‘boxes’, but even the smallest step you take in terms of sustainability and ethical beauty can cause a big positive change! We hope you decide to go for a change in your beauty collection.
You can see ethical and sustainable beauty products in the photo gallery.