Nowadays, it is quite common to opt for an eco-friendly beauty routine. Searching for a sea-friendly face wash, cruelty-free makeup line, or long-lasting shampoo isn’t out of the ordinary. As more and more people start to care about the origin of their favorite products and the impact they can have on our world, it’s no surprise that some companies are trying to hide their true origins. With this in mind, many of us ask ourselves the question: “Are my hair products environmentally friendly?” Fortunately, there are several ways to find out. Here are some tips and tricks for making eco-friendly choices as a consumer of beauty products!
Are you being “greenwashed”?
It’s safe to say that we’ve all purchased products that claim to be “green” but actually aren’t. Often the greenest thing about them is the label. Think packaging covered in trees and floral designs with the word “Natural” smeared across the packaging. This is actually a marketing technique often referred to as “greenwashing” or “the green sheen”. You can spot greenwashing campaigns quite easily with a simple flip of the bottle. A quick analysis of the ingredients will usually prove otherwise.
Generally, when you come across a product with vague images, small details, and no certifications, it’s probably not natural, eco-friendly, or cruelty-free. One of the best-known examples of greenwashing is St. Ives. By now, most people know that St. Ives scrubs are not good for the skin. The walnut shells in their formula can actually cause micro tears on the face and exacerbate skin issues. But beyond the surface damage your face might suffer, St. Ives products are far from “100% natural.” Of course, they may contain a Single natural ingredient, but that doesn’t mean the whole formula is natural. Unfortunately, this tactic is very common in pharmacies and premium brands, so it’s important to look for these signs before heading to the register.
Parent companies: who is who?
Another way to investigate the authenticity of your favorite cosmetics is to look at the parent company. Often a product line will be made in an environmentally friendly way, but simultaneously be owned by an unfriendly parent company. A parent company is pretty much what it sounds like: a single large entity that has some control over many small businesses. Examples of parent companies in the beauty industry include Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, and Johnson & Johnson.
But what does all this mean? Here is an example. NARS is a very popular cosmetic line that creates amazing formulas and color ranges. Many assume that due to its status, the line would be more eco-friendly or at least cruelty-free. In the United States, they can be! But, because they’re owned by Shiseido and sold in countries that enforce animal testing, they’re required by law to test their finished products on animals. This is why it is important to look at the role of the parent company, as it can be the reason why a line is or is not green.
Certification badges can be extremely useful when you’re out shopping and not sure what to buy. These “Eco Certs” are awarded on the basis of independent investigations carried out by third parties with the aim of proving what they claim. The certification best known to beauty product buyers is the “Beauty Without Bunnies logo”. This bunny shows that the product is certified cruelty-free. Other cruelty-free badges include the “Leaping Bunny” and the PETA “Vegan Certification”.
If you are looking for a certified organic product, look for the “USDA Organic” badge, the international “NSF” badge or the “ECOCERT COSMOS” badge. Fairtrade badges include “Fair Trade USA” and “Fairtrade International”. There are also badges for sustainability such as the FSC “Tree” badge and the Rainforest Alliance “Frog” badge. The ultimate certification is the B Corporation, or “B Corp” certification. B Corp companies are rated on the treatment of employees, environmental impact, corporate governance and community awareness. So any product from a B Corp company is sure to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Use existing resources
If you’re looking for more detailed advice on environmentally friendly products, try an environmental directory. These online resources contain years of factual information and studies, compiled into easy-to-digest lists that act like a search engine. One of the best is a website called Cruelty-Free Kitty. Here you will find detailed information about the products and their parent companies, as well as alternatives to your favorite ranges. If you’re someone who wants more information on all-vegan lines and brands, try Ethical Elephant. Either way, resources like these can help you make ethical and informed beauty decisions.