Have you heard of ‘clean beauty’ before? Over the last few years, there’s been a rise in brands calling their products ‘clean’. Clean beauty is the idea that the ingredients inside products are ‘clean’... Whatever that means.

Clean beauty is a bit of a controversial topic for several reasons. But for a bit of context, it’s good to understand that the beauty industry is heavily regulated, especially in the UK and Europe. There are a lot of restrictions in place to ensure that products used on our skin are safe to use. There’s a list of over 1,500 ingredients in the EU that are banned.

The problem is that the term ‘clean beauty’ is not regulated at all. Any company around the world can call their products clean if they want to. And it’s a touchy subject because by calling their own products clean and non-toxic, they’re also suggesting that other brands are harmful. Clean beauty could be used as a form of greenwashing, which is essentially getting customers to believe the company is eco-friendly when in reality, they’re not.

While ingredients are definitely important and should always be as beneficial to the skin as possible, ethical business practices should also be considered when choosing where to buy your grooming products from. If using eco-friendly cosmetics and living a sustainable lifestyle is important to you, stop looking at clean beauty and start learning about ethical beauty.

What is ethical beauty?

There is an important difference between just looking at the ingredients a company uses versus how the business behaves on the whole. For consumers, ethical beauty is important because many people don’t want to use products that put additional strain on the earth or compromise their morals. 

Ethical beauty is focused on what the company as a whole is doing for the environment and beyond, not just the ingredients within the products being ethically sourced and safe, but the entire supply chain, environmental impact, use of animal-derived and organic ingredients, how they treat their employees, whether they align with any charities and so on. 

Taking care of yourself with ethical skincare

If you’re on the lookout for ethical skincare, here are a few things you could keep an eye out for:

  • Are their products vegan AND cruelty-free? This means that they make animal-free skincare products and don’t test on animals. To learn more about that, check out our other blog on vegan makeup
  • Where are their natural ingredients sourced from? Do they make a point of saying that they’re sustainably sourced or organic?
  • Are they palm oil-free?
  • What can you find out about how they treat employees? Are there reviews on GlassDoor or similar platforms?
  • Do they work with any charities or NGOs? 
  • Are they considered a sustainable skincare brand or sustainable makeup brand? What is their stance on waste and energy? Can you find out about any recycling programmes that they offer?

The point of ethical makeup

If living a sustainable lifestyle is important to you, ethical products are something you should look into. There are plenty of companies that have great initiatives to make their sustainable makeup products as ethical as possible, so you don’t need to sacrifice looking good or having effective products while striving to be eco-friendly. 

Ethical makeup brands

Sadly there are plenty of brands that still greenwash customers and claim that they are ethical. For example, popular makeup brands you might not know still test on animals include Maybelline, Clinique, L’Oreal, MAC Cosmetics, and Estee Lauder.

Similarly to clean beauty, ethical beauty is subjective. There’s a lot that could be considered ethical vs unethical. So we believe it’s about finding brands that align with what you personally believe.

Where to get ethical cosmetic brands

If you’d like to find out about the best sustainable makeup brands, it’s good to look at ratings and certifications online. Doing a bit of background research before choosing a brand to buy from is a good way to ensure they align with your views.

The Good Shopping Guide has a table of ethical skincare and ethical makeup brands. Another good accreditation to look at is whether they are a B Corp. B Corps are assessed on their impact on people and the planet. They have a directory of businesses that have made the cut so far.
January 19, 2023 — Hannah Brill

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