What Makes Beauty Products Ethical & Sustainable?

10 Jun 2019




As much as I would like to consider myself knowledgeable in the world of sustainable and ethical beauty and have previously posted about how to be sustainable on a budget, there are definitely some areas I am less knowledgeable of. Today, I called upon my friends at Sustainable Jungle to bring together a short guide to ethical and sustainable beauty, including how to avoid Green Washing.

Who doesn't love a good mascara, a beautiful scent, a nourishing moisturiser or a functional deodorant? The good news is that we as consumers of these products can use the power of what we purchase to really make a positive impact on both the people involved in making them and, of course, the planet. 

How exactly can we make sure that the beauty products we are consuming are truely as ethical and sustainable as possible? How do we avoid falling victim to greenwashing in an area that is especially ripe for smart and tactical marketing?

there are a few things to consider. We think a useful way to think about this is from the very start of the product's life (i.e. the ingredients), all the way along the manufacturing and testing process and, ultimately, its packaging and end of life story. We've come up with the following key attributes we use as a framework when looking for the most ethical and sustainable brands and products on the market.

Ethical Sourcing

Ethical sourcing is a very broad term, we tend to use it in the context of impact on human life in terms of what's going on in a brand's supply chain, if they pay fair prices for material and goods, and whether their suppliers are committed to a positive environment and social impact while providing safe working conditions for all that work.

Vegan & Palm Oil Free

Separately, we look for products with ingredients that don't have a negative implication for our planet. We tend to focus on animal rights and biodiversity loss: products that are vegan (i.e. contain no animal products whatsoever- even if you are not vegan, you just simply don't need crushed insects in your lipstick, which a real thing) and palm oil free because while it's a complicated issue, the reality is that palm oil is devastating forests and jungles that are critical to biodiversity.

Ingredient Quality

Similarly, we look for products with ingredients that are high quality and non-toxic- ideally, these will be organically farmed, all natural ingredients containing no GMOs, manufactured herbicides, artificial fertilizers, artificial or synthetic colours, preservatives or chemicals. This one is super difficult to find a key problem area for greenwashing, especially in the case of cosmetics.

Cruelty-free

This is probably the attribute you are most familiar and thankfully, the cruelty-free movement has done an excellent job of forcing a number of brands to stop the cruel practice of testing cosmetics and personal care products on beagles, bunnies and other animals- a practice that we will no doubt look back on in 50 years' time as utterly barbaric.

Thoughtful Packaging

Increasingly we are looking for brands and products that cater to zero waste lifestyles and have a very clear end of life story- i.e. there is a way to responsibly reuse (through send-back programs) or compost the packaging. This is not always available to everyone everywhere so, at the very least, packaging should be recyclable.

Forward Thinking Business Practices and Charitable Giving

Finally, we love to find brands that have thought beyond just the product themselves, for example, may be powered by renewable energy, have an entirely plastic-free delivery process or have a community garden for their employees. Many ethical and sustainable brands out there also prioritise giving back to their communities through charitable giving programs.


While this framework is not entirely perfect, we find it a useful way to minimise our risk of doing damage and to support brands and small businesses out there that are doing the right thing and creating products that align with our own values.


If you want to learn more about this topic in detail, Joy and Lyall of Sustainable Jungle have gone into more detail in this article that is worth the read. Their site is also a great place to learn more about sustainable products and brands. You may also see a post by me crop up on their website in the near future.

We hope you find use in it too and we'd love to hear your ideas, thoughts, comments or questions on this thinking!

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x 



No comments:

Post a Comment

design by amanda inez