Why Clean Beauty Isn’t Always Sustainable


As consumers, we are often drawn to clean beauty because we believe it is the best option not only for our skin, but for the environment as well. The notion that natural ingredients equate to sustainability is a common misconception by many people in the beauty industry. The truth is not all natural ingredients are sustainable for the environment but also socially and financially. Educating yourself on the topic of beauty sustainability and understanding the ingredients in your beauty products will help you to make the best decisions for future purchases. It is wonderful that we want to reduce our negative impact on the planet by using clean products, but first we must understand that natural is not always the correct answer! 

Environmental Sustainability 

We have been taught that natural ingredients are better for the environment than those created in a lab because they are derived from the earth, this however is not always the case. One of the most important things to remember about natural ingredients is that there is a finite amount of resources, especially when we consider the industrial scale said natural ingredients would be needed for. An example that helps to put this into perspective is natural fragrances. If a brand wanted to produce an all natural perfume lacking any synthetic materials, they would not be sustainably producing the product. There is not enough land and resources to supply the demand of mass production. Another aspect to consider is all that it takes to get raw materials versus producing synthetic materials. The labor, transportation, and packaging in order to possess mass amounts of natural ingredients can have more of a negative impact on the environment than a synthetic material. 

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Social Sustainability 

Sustainability is usually thought of in terms of the impact on the environment, but rarely thought of as the impact on the people involved. Palm oil is a natural ingredient used in many products that is grown on plantations where rainforests have been cleared. Not only is the deforestation that takes place for this plant to grow devastating, but the impact it has on those who live there. Deforestation is devastating to the indigenous people that live there, as their homeland is destroyed. Many indigenous people rely on the rainforest to sustain their way of life. Clearing the forests to make room for plantations to grow plants to get natural ingredients such as palm oil is neither environmentally nor socially sustainable. It is important to keep both the environment and the people that live in that environment in mind when it comes to the collection of natural products. 

Financially Sustainable 

Being able to obtain natural ingredients is not always financially sustainable for a company. As mentioned above, mass production of finite natural resources is not sustainable for the environment, but it is also not financially sustainable. The cost to obtain a finite natural material over a long span of time is very expensive, which in turn, makes the final product expensive for the consumer. An example of an ingredient that is not financially sustainable in large quantities is organic rose essential oil. This ingredient is typically grown on a small organic farm which takes a lot of time and effort. This ingredient is not sustainable for mass production because of the amount of effort that goes into nurturing the growth of the plant, which causes it to be very expensive. 

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How to Support Sustainable Products 

After learning all this information it can feel as though it is impossible to support sustainability across all fronts, but knowledge is the first step in the right direction! The best way to find sustainable products is to take the time and do your own research. Seek out full ingredient lists to understand what is in your product before you decide to purchase it. Something else that is very important to remember is, synthetic does not equal bad! Many synthetic ingredients made in a lab are modeled after natural products and are not harmful to your skin. 

Be sure to check out our skincare products on our website that lists out all the ingredients found in each product and what they do for your skin! Shop smart and clean!

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