Jo Elston-Moscrop explains what to look out for in order to give your beauty shelf a green and ethical makeover.
Who takes the time to look at all the ingredients on a product? Further still, who researches what each obscure ingredient is made from? Maybe only a small amount of us do this. It’s something I did for a while before making my own products. And I was shocked at what I found in a lot of them, and also at laws surrounding these chemicals. Petrochemicals are one of things I was horrified by, aka fossil fuels. Not something you’d really choose to spread all over your skin is it? But it’s in many cosmetics. Some of them you may recognise. Mineral oils, propylene, toluene and phenoxyethanol to name a few. I remember everyone switching to soy candles because they didn’t want the paraffin wax burning in their homes. However, it would seem that instead of burning it they are still letting it enter their bodies, but through their skin.
Ever seen the words ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ listed as ingredient? EU law says that companies are under no legal obligation to disclose the ingredient of those scents. So as consumers we just have to accept that there are a lot of man-made synthetic chemicals in products. Some companies are open to you asking what is in the scent so it is worth contacting them. Meanwhile others are completely transparent and will list the ingredient of that scent on their website. That said, it can be tough to know when a product is completely natural. One way to really be sure of what goes into your beauty products, is to make your own.
Here’s my recipe for a natural make-up remover:
- 1 part alcohol free Witch Hazel
- 1 part Apricot Kernel oil
Pour into a sterile bottle. Shake before each use.
There is a ban on animal testing for cosmetic products in the UK. In 2013, the EU made the landmark decision that prompted other countries to follow suit. No ingredient tested on animals is to be used in beauty products, regardless where the ingredient was made. However, this doesn’t mean that a company can’t test on animals outside of the EU and sell their products to countries that allow testing to happen. In particular those companies that sell in China, will have tested on animals as China demands that it be done.
Avoid this by checking that the beauty brands you use are cruelty-free and vegan. Do your research, too. PETA have a list of animal-derived products here so you know what to steer clear of.
Sadly, plastic gets everywhere. Especially when it comes to cosmetics. The beauty sector generated over 142 billion units of packaging last year – most of which ended up in landfill or the ocean. Driven by this, the first green beauty success story occurred in the UK as legislation banned products containing microbeads. These are plastic particles used in many cleansers, toothpastes and scrubs. But that’s just the start. If you want to take the plastic out of your beauty items, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, seek out refill and zero-waste shops. They won’t sell items in single-use packaging, instead you have to bring your own container. Take a glass bottle and fill up on as much shampoo and conditioner as you need there. Chances are, these kinds of shops will also sell shampoo bars, too. These products require little, to no-packaging so they’re a great green beauty item to buy into. Also research brands with great sustainable ethos. Faith in Nature are a fantastic eco-friendly brand to buy from, too. They offer the use of refill stations to encourage customers to recycle more plastic. Anyone who sends back the 5L containers to their UK headquarters will get 20 percent off their next 5L purchase. Once the empty containers are returned, they’re cleaned and reused in the Faith in Nature supply chain.