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Sustainability in Beauty Brands

The conversation of sustainability has been at its peak since 2020. While it’s more common to hear about it in terms of fashion, let's explore what sustainability means in the beauty industry.

In scientific terms, sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. I learned a bit about it in a science course, but we never got into specifics of it in terms of industries. One of the biggest takeaways from that course was that sustainability is more complex than what is spoken about on social media.

When it comes to sustainability there are 5 three pillars that form it: ecological, environmental, economic, and social.

Many people usually see sustainability from an environmental standpoint and attempt to come up with solutions. Something that is overlooked is even if something solves one aspect of pillars, that doesn’t make it necessarily supportive of the other aspects that would make something sustainable. Sustainability is like an abstract puzzle where you keep looking for solutions, but there is no guarantee that it will satisfy everything it needs to by definition.

Sustainability in the Beauty Industry

There are many issues to tackle in the beauty industry. Some examples include animal cruelty, the sourcing of raw ingredients, energy consumption, waste management, and the carbon footprint of the whole production chain. Sustainability in beauty is about the journey from when the product is being manufactured to distributed to consumers.

Articles have recognized that smaller brands have been leading in making efforts to make the beauty industry more sustainable. Some practices include decreasing the amount of packaging they use, being selective of the ingredients in what they put and products, and even some brands allow you to refill current products.

A prime example of this is Boafo beauty. When you visit the about page you can see a list of practices that are a part of the brand's initiative. The thing I admire most is that the mission not only tackles two issues that are prominent in the industry, it is also charitable and understands affordability. In many cases, people get turned away from sustainable items because of the price. Affordability has to be in the conversations because there are families where it's a single parent, parents who couldn't get high-paying jobs because college is expensive, and a lot of high-paying jobs do require a degree, etc.

This is where the pillars of sustainability come in. People can argue that if someone can't afford to buy something sustainable at the time, they should wait. However, that's also not fair to say considering we are in a digital era where it's so easy to want things to "fit in" and not be bullied over it. As I said, Sustainability is an abstract puzzle and even if a comment solves one aspect of a problem, it doesn't mean it can solve another.

How can Consumers be more Sustainable?

Practice minimalism

One big issue is that people buy what they want but not what they need. Often we buy beauty products to test things out without even finishing the ones we have. That’s how a lot of foundations, mascaras, eyeshadows, and even skincare products end up unfinished and unable to be recycled. Learning how to separate your wants and needs will not only be good to reduce waste but will benefit you financially.

Avoid products with wasteful material/ polluting ingredients (i.e. Makeup wipes, toner pads, microbeads)

Makeup wipes create daily waste that can be easily prevented. Statistically speaking, “7.6 billion pounds of wipes thrown into the landfill each year, which add up to 1.3 billion wipes tossed each day. That's 20 million makeup wipes a day being thrown into the trash. This makes wipes the third most wasteful product in the world”. While this is only speaking environmentally, there are so many other reasons why makeup wipes shouldn’t be used. There are makeup cleansers/ liquid removers that can easily replace them. My personal favorite is cleansers from the Inkey list.

Additionally, products that use pads are also bad for the environment due to the production process. Cotton uses a lot of water which affects ecosystems. My favorite is the all-over toner from Dermalogica because not only does it include an ingredient to help my acne-prone skin, but it is also very environmentally friendly compared to other brands that include cotton rounds in their products.

Lastly, microbeads, which are commonly found in exfoliating skin care products, are bad for your skin and the environment. They can cause micro-tears on your skin barrier. They are mostly tiny pieces of plastic that can absorb toxic chemicals. They can’t be filtered out and they don’t break down in the water, so it’s easy for them to end up in oceans where animals can easily mistake them for food.

Repurpose Bottles/Containers

People ten they can still do the repurpose part of recycling. There are a ton of DIY videos that can teach you how to recycle.

Why it's important

Sustainability is the action people take to avoid the depletion of natural resources so that people can maintain ecological balance. While we are living in a state created by the decisions of previous generations, it is our choice to be more mindful and do our best to solve problems. People will say that we are using all of our resources. Our greatest resource will forever be our brains. Through education and innovation, we will be able to discover new ways to look at sustainability and construct a better future for rising generations.

What are your thoughts on sustainability? If you share your favorite sustainability tips be sure to tag or @simplylayxx on Instagram!

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