I’ve been thinking for a while about natural beauty products and replacing my current make up with more eco-friendly, ethical brands. After chatting on Twitter about ethical companies, I decided to take the plunge, and when things run out, I will replace with more ethical alternatives. I want to start cutting down on plastic use too, but am finding it hard to find cosmetics in particular without plastic packaging. So begins my foray into the natural beauty world.
The scariest thing I found out was that a product only has to contain 1% of natural ingredients in order to call itself ‘natural’. No wonder we’re all so confused.
My reasons are varied, and personally, for me, I’d prefer to buy from companies that care about preserving the environment and looking after the people who supply the ingredients. I’m not so big on the adverse health effects but I am worried about the amount of ingredients that seem to be entering our products that don’t really need to be there.
Another absolute no is animal testing. Cosmetic products should not be tested on animals. Period. And that goes for their individual ingredients too. It’s scary that an end product isn’t tested on animals, but the manufacturer cannot guarantee that of the ingredients that were used to make that product.
I also thought about what products I really needed. I’m fortunate to have pretty good skin, although as the world’s palest ginger I still need a very high spf in the sun (and sometimes in the shade, haha). Fortunately, I found a great one by Green People that I was given a sample of from my local health store. Shame they don’t do a factor 50 or I’d be right there! I got to thinking about make-up and beauty standards, and what i was personally prepared to forego if I couldn’t find an ethical alternative. I’ll blog about that in a future post I think, as it raised a lot of questions for me!
What I’m looking for
I had a few areas I wanted to look into when deciding where to buy my replacement products from.
-I wanted to ensure neither the end product nor any of the ingredients were tested on animals at any point.
-I looked at the ingredients list, looking for any unnecessary ingredients, or ones that were considered possibly harmful to the environment. I also avoided ingredients that may be linked to health issues. As a minimalist, I didn’t want there to be many ingredients in the products if there didn’t need to be.
-I was interested in the ethics of the company. What is their mission? Why do they exist? What are the conditions like for their workers and their suppliers? Are they fair trade or organic? What certifications do they use and why? Where are the ingredients sourced from?
-Is the company local to me, i.e the UK? I didn’t want to ship products worldwide if I didn’t have to, having as little impact as possible.
This was such a learning experience. Products that seemed ‘natural’ most definitely weren’t. Small companies turned out to be owned by bigger companies. (I found this endlessly fascinating and also pretty frustrating. You can read more here, here and here). Plastic still rules the roost, although you can find products packaged in recycled glass, cardboard or aluminium.
But amongst these, there are many companies that stand out, both in their ethical and environmental stance. I was lucky to be recommended places to start looking by people on Twitter (thanks especially Gemma @agreeableletter) and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of companies located in the UK.
I really loved the ethos of PHB Ethical Beauty, Earth Conscious, and Green People. The problem for me remains the use of plastic packaging. I’d love to see more companies supplying plastic-free products.
Rather than complain about the higher price point, I see this as a positive. I know by paying more for a product (from a company with morals anyway) means the suppliers are getting a fair deal. Hand made products cost more, good ingredients cost more. A fair price for a quality product means smaller companies are making money to continue to invest in producing better products, a wider variety of products, and are better able to cope with demand without having to resort to cost-cutting measures.
So, right now I’m not buying clothing and I’m debating over whether to replace my consumables as they run out. I’m going to change the clothes I wear, buying better quality and from local, sustainable sources. There are a few brands I’m checking out ready for next year!
In the meantime I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this issue. Do you use ‘natural beauty products’? If so, what are your reasons? Do you have any recommendations?