There are many steps in a makeup routine. You have your primers, foundation, concealer, mascara, eye shadow, eyeliner, and the list goes on and on. That’s makeup alone, let’s not even dive into a skincare routine. The point is what happens to all those things after you use them, unfortunately, many of these are not recyclable and most will add to the existing landfills.
In short, beauty products can be more eco-friendly through conscious packaging, ingredient sourcing, manufacturing, and many more. Beauty brands are now catching on with a growing demand for eco-friendly beauty products, and many are taking initiative.
If you own a beauty brand or thinking about owning a beauty brand, the green movement is the way to go. People are willing to spend more money if it means better products for them and the environment.
How do Beauty Products Affect the Environment?
One of the biggest problems in the beauty industry is all the trash that gets thrown into landfills. In 2018, in the U.S. alone, 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were created from beauty and personal care products.
This is a problem because the amount of plastic that is piling up is not biodegrading as fast as it’s being produced. It can take up to 500 years before they biodegrade back into Earth’s ecosystem. In addition to that, plastic releases methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that is harmful to the environment and contributes to global warming.
Products like hair sprays and dry shampoo contribute to air pollution as much as car emissions can. Once in the air, they produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are bad for our health. Hair spray is the largest source of emissions responsible for 92,000 pounds per day of smog-forming hydrocarbons.
The industry is also not very regulated, so other products can contain toxic ingredients that pollute and contaminate waterways. Ingredients that are not safe for the environment may not also be safe for you to put on your skin every day.
How Can Brands Be Eco-Friendly?
Newer small brands right out the gate know that most consumers prefer environmentally friendly products so they build that expectation from the beginning. Bigger brands are now slowly making the effort to transition, and although it won’t happen over night, it’s great to know that it’s in their plans. Here are some things both should keep in mind.
- Recyclable packaging. This one is a no-brainer, reusable or recyclable packaging will show up on every eco-friendly checklist. We all know landfills are piling up so this is the most important part of not contributing. In beauty, the packaging is everything and it’s the reason most people want to buy the product because it delivers either fun or luxurious experience to the item and brand. But we know that is such a waste. Consumers need to be educated on the problem and brands need to stop producing such extravagant packaging.
- Refillable Service. There are a lot of people that are religious about their beauty or skincare routine which will require them to constantly repurchase. Most companies even offer monthly subscriptions to mail you products so you’ll never run out. While this is convenient, I can’t imagine all the trash that can accumulate in a year from it. The box that it comes in, the plastic bubble wrap to protect it, and the product’s packaging itself. Refillable services ensure no extra waste when an item runs out.
- Reducing Single-Use. Products like cotton swabs, makeup remover wipes, and cotton rounds, all have one purpose and a one-time use lifeline. If only one person uses them daily, can you imagine a whole neighborhood of people using them daily as well? Throwing something away every day can add up, one year is 365 days. Can you imagine contributing 300 pieces of trash every year just to do your skincare or makeup routine?
- Responsibly Sourcing Ingredients. The green industry is seeing more use of bio-based oleochemicals which are derived from renewable plants and bacterium. Formulating things with natural oils, agricultural plants and bacteria are sustainable ingredients that are better for humans and the environment. Responsible sourcing also means the workers have a good working environment as well.
- Banning Toxic Ingredients. Harmful ingredients are more likely to cause irritation and allergic reactions than non-toxic ingredients. The ingredients may do their part in the beginning but can have issues in the long run. If it’s bad and will contaminate the Earth then it’s bad to put on your skin every day.
- Innovating. The movement is a challenge. If it’s convenient then it’s most likely not eco-friendly. Companies overcome hurdles and think of new ways to create something that aligns with Earth. What hasn’t been done, what CAN be done?
- Water Wastage. Water can weigh a lot when mixed in with other ingredients, which increases carbon emissions when transported. The less water used, the more cost-efficient production can be and the more water we can save.
- Banning Microbeads. Microbeads are tiny plastic particles that were once included in face washes to act as an “exfoliator” to make you feel like you are scrubbing your face clean by removing dead skin. Turns out it was incredibly damaging to the environment because it polluted waters and fish were eating them, which was bad for them. This has now been officially banned and we hope to never see them again. It was also incredibly damaging to your skin as well, physical exfoliants only scratch and irritate your skin even more.
Why Should Companies Be More Eco-Friendly?
When you build a company you are building a brand, and that means creating meaning behind a name. What do you think of when you hear Walmart? Probably cheap products, you don’t think environmentally friendly because they don’t care about that. They care about selling the most at the cheapest price. A lot of beauty brands might’ve had that thought in the beginning, but nowadays brands don’t want to be viewed that way anymore. That’s why many are making the effort to change.
Building a brand also means building a reputation for yourself. Being upfront and transparent about your process is what people want. People don’t want to be lied to or feel like you’re only in it for the sale (even if it’s true). We want to feel like we’re supporting a good cause and supporting a brand with the same values.
Owning a beauty brand also comes with a lot of responsibility. We are talking about products people use every day, for instance, many people wear makeup to work every day. Environmentally friendly or not, companies need to be aware of the amount of products they are producing. There are aisles and aisles of beauty products in stores and even more selling online and all over the globe, imagine the impact of all that getting thrown away.
Many brands, either on purpose or accidentally can greenwash, which means advertising one thing but not living up to it. Slapping on words like “biodegradable” or “natural” on labels to attract people but not doing the correct research or don’t have the right business plan to live up to the claims. Companies should beware of this because once you break the trust, it’s hard to get it back.
Now more than ever people are likely to spend more money on brands they know care. Brands that put more effort into being environmentally friendly will attract the right customers. It’s all about being open and transparent.