Ultimate Ethical Beauty Guide For 2020

The no-fluff guide to ethical and sustainable beauty tips and recommendations. #ethicalbeauty #ecofriendlybeauty

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Ethical Beauty FAQ

What is sustainable & ethical beauty?

“The solutions are not black and white, it’s more like a balancing act and trade offs.” –Amarjit Sahota, president of Organic Monitor

Just like any other realm of ethical living, it’s quite difficult to give a perfect definition for ethical and sustainable beauty…because, well…the “perfect brand/product” does not exist.

Ethical and sustainable beauty requires us to compromise for brands that land somewhere on a spectrum of ethical and sustainable.

The trick is to find those brands that really go the distance to make the world a better place.

No worries- those brands DO exist!

Use this guide on how to find and research ethical brands that align with your values in as little as 5 minutes.

You can also check out our ethical living directory for a list of makeup brands that are ethical and that match your price point.

Since looking for “sustainable and ethical beauty” products and brands is part of “ethical shopping” habits, I’ve also summarized some things to look for below.

This is how I define “ethical shopping”:

  1. Produced in a way that doesn’t harm or exploit people and/or animals
    • thriving and dignified work conditions & wages
    • support of traditional skills
    • cruelty-free products (no animal testing)
    • vegan
    • palm oil free
  2. Produced with a minimum impact on the planet
    • less or no pollution
    • less waste
    • less resources used
    • natural textiles and materials
    • low-carbon footprint
    • non-toxic dyes
    • recycled materials
    • organic & natural
    • thoughtfully packaged
    • thoughtful waste & resource management
    • and more
  3. Produced with ethical intentions (think “people over money”)

How your beauty products are affecting the environment

Here are 4 ways your beauty products are affecting the environment:

  1. Unfinished cosmetics and their packaging kills sea life and infects our ecosystems. 70% of cosmetics are discarded without being finished. Even worse, many discarded plastics are ending up in our oceans. Not only can this cause death and harm to sea life, but micro bacteria attach to plastic and create their own eco systems. Plastic can travel with bacteria and can end up contaminating other countries with disease.
  2. Fake eco-friendly companies are harming the environment. Increased demand for trending natural ingredients means that many profit-focused companies try to get those ingredients cheap and quickly regardless of the impact to the environment or to human exploitation. This results in more pesticides in soil and also depletes non-renewable natural resources with unsustainable farming practices. Mining of minerals and of petroleum based products, disrupts ecosystems and depletes non-renewable natural resources.
  3. Toxins in makeup & cosmetics harm the environment even after you wash them down the sink. The chemicals in many cosmetics don’t break down and build up in our oceans, lakes, streams, rivers, and water supply.
  • Reduction in animal plankton population.
  • Change of behavior and death of aquatic species.
  • BHA and BHT cause the death of fish and shellfish.
  • BHA and BHT cause genetic mutations in amphibians.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate alters fish behavior and increases mortality.
  • Dioxane causes death to insects.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) builds up in the environment and reacts with nitrates to form nitrosamines, which are highly carcinogenic to human and animal life.
  • DEA is fatally toxic to amphibians, crustaceans, fish, nematodes, flatworms, and animal plankton.
  • Livestock exposed to chemicals in the soil can suffer from reproductive issues and cancer.
  • Microbeads pollute waters and contaminate the food chain with toxins.

4. Palm oil directly destroys our forests and worsens climate change. 300 football fields of trees are being cleared each hour to make room for palm plantations. Each hectare of forest can release around 6000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

  • Clearing for palm oil plantations in the tropics has destroyed vast areas of rainforest.
  • Felling of trees has contributed to climate change and global warming.
  • The depletion of forests in Indonesia is particularly concerning because these forests store more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem in the world.
  • Air, soil, and water pollution.
  • Soil erosion.
  • Robbing Indigenous people of Malaysia and Indonesia of their land and livelihoods.

What makeup brands are ethical?

There is no “100% ethical makeup brand” (yet). It’s very much a balancing act of compromise right now.

But there’s still hope!

There are brands that really go the distance to make the world a better place.

Use this guide on how to find and research ethical brands that align with your values in as little as 5 minutes.

You can also check out our ethical living directory for a list of makeup brands that are ethical and that match your price point.

Since looking for “sustainable and ethical beauty” products and brands is part of “ethical shopping” habits, I’ve also summarized some things to look for below.

This is how I define “ethical shopping”:

  1. Produced in a way that doesn’t harm or exploit people and/or animals
    • thriving and dignified work conditions & wages
    • support of traditional skills
    • cruelty-free products (no animal testing)
    • vegan
    • palm oil free
  2. Produced with a minimum impact on the planet
    • less or no pollution
    • less waste
    • less resources used
    • natural textiles and materials
    • low-carbon footprint
    • non-toxic dyes
    • recycled materials
    • organic & natural
    • thoughtfully packaged
    • thoughtful waste & resource management
    • and more
  3. Produced with ethical intentions (think “people over money”)

How does organic makeup help the environment?

Generally speaking, organic beauty products are free of harmful chemicals, making it safer for the environment and the workers that make the products.

How is this possible?

Well, cosmetics that contain certified organic ingredients contain mostly natural ingredients. That means that these ingredients typically avoid things like being grown with toxic pesticides.

Unfortunately, “organic” does NOT always mean “problem-free” or “waste-free”.

Organic companies still need to store their products so that they don’t rot away.

Some may turn to synthetic chemicals to keep their products fresh and useful. Be sure to check the ingredients list on your favorite organic products.

How much plastic does the beauty industry use?

How much plastic does the beauty industry use?

In 2017, the beauty industry produced ~76.8 billion plastic packaging units. What’s worse is that about 90% of the plastic does not get recycled.

The beauty industry uses plastic for:

  • microbeads
  • boxes
  • cellophane wrapping for boxes
  • liners that prove the product is sealed
  • bottles
  • caps
  • makeup brushes
  • and more

Here is what we can do to help solve this complex issue:

  • stop producing petro-based plastic
  •  reduce overall consumption
  • demand reusable, non-plastic packaging that is sustainable (wood-based products, paper, and alternative aluminum)

Simple Guide To Ethical Beauty

  • Buy products made from natural, non-toxic, organic and sustainably sourced ingredients
  • Buy beauty products that are made locally – in your area.
  • Try to buy beauty products from local farmer/craft markets
  • Buy hair and wigs from transparent and ethical sources like Remy NY
  • Buy clothing that is sourced from ethical labor
  • Avoid products that contain parabens, phthalates, or triclosan. These are toxic chemicals that have very negative environmental impacts and health effects – from skin irritation to carcinogenicity!
  • Avoid products that use Mica. It’s widely used in cosmetics and is often linked to child labor and other illegal practices
  • Avoid palm oil beauty products. If you do buy something with palm oil, make sure it’s sustainably sourced
  • Not vegan? You can buy from brands that are cruelty-free because animal testing is not necessary with beauty products.
    • PRO TIP: if a brand sells in China, it is most likely NOT cruelty-free because it’s required by law to test on animals for the Chinese market
  • Find places to recycle your old makeup and makeup containers
  • Try to find products in reusable packaging like glass, or sustainable/biodegradable packaging.
  • Make your own make-up!

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The no-fluff guide to ethical and sustainable beauty tips and recommendations. #ethicalbeauty #ecofriendlybeauty

SOURCES: Sustainable JungleAdorn CosmeticsGreen AmericaThe Good TradeFlora and CestaThe GuardianTeen VogueWell and Good

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