4 Steps to Building an Ethical Skincare Routine
If living more ethically, consciously and mindfully is one of your resolutions for 2018, a good place to start would be your skincare routine. It’s these little everyday changes that can actually make a huge difference. For more information on how your beauty products can affect the environment, have a read of this blog post. There are, of course, many reasons why you might want to think about changing your skincare routine to more ethical products. As well as the high volume of plastics used, there is also the cruelty to animals that is still continuing in the industry, the raw materials that are not sourced using fair trade practises and the irresponsible use of certain ingredients that are damaging to our environment. Most of us want to live more ethically in all areas of our lives, so here are just a few steps you can take, starting with your skincare:
1. Consider the packaging.
A huge amount of plastic is used for skincare packaging. We have a huge global issue with plastic waste filling up landfill sites, polluting our oceans and slowly killing off some animal species, including fish and birds who are prone to ingesting plastic. All plastic can be recycled, so next time you use up a plastic bottle of shampoo, face wash or moisturiser, make sure it goes into the recycling bin. Even better, when replacing your skincare products, choose products in glass or cardboard packaging. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly and easily to make new glass bottles. Recycling glass reduces energy output by 75% (1) and conserves natural resources used to make new glass. Evolve Beauty use recycled brown glass for their skincare packaging, this preserves the natural ingredients by shading them from sunlight, and means they don’t need to use a synthetic preserve to keep the product fresh.
2. Look for certifications.
With the abundance of ‘greenwashing’ that seems to plague the beauty industry, you might like to look for certifications in order to ensure you are not having the wool pulled over your eyes. Look out for certification bodies such as EcoCert, Soil Association, Cosmos and BDIH to ensure the product you are pondering buying is what they claim to be. These organisations will certify products or brands based on if they use natural and/or organic ingredients, their eco friendly status, packaging and manufacturing processes. Each organisation is different and will certify at different levels. It is also important to note that it is very expensive for many of of the skincare brands to become certified, so it shouldn’t be a solid rule to only use certified products. Corinne Taylor, for example, follow ethical, environmentally friendly and sustainable practises when creating all of their products, but due to being such a small, independent company, are unable to be certified at this stage due to the cost. Whilst it is important to look out for the certifications of these organisations, it should not be a hard and fast rule in your buying decision. If necessary, do your own research on the companies to ensure you are buying an ethical product. An ethical company will be more than willing to get back to you with some of their sustainable practises as they will be SO proud of the fact they are doing good!
3. Be aware of products with palm oil.
Used in cooking, detergents, food products as well as our skincare and cosmetics, the demand for palm oil is rapidly increasing - oil palm trees can yield up to ten times more oil per acre compared to soybeans, canola and other crops, making it a cheaper alternative to other vegetable oils. The problem occurs where this over-production of palm oil is causing mass deforestation in countries in South East Asia, leaving wildlife such as orangutans, elephants and without their natural habitat. Local people are also losing their homes and being imprisoned trying to protect their land, as well as children working on the plantations contributing to child labour.
There are over 170 ingredients listed on products that are derived from palm oil, common ingredients you will see listed are Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Hydrated Palm Glyceride and Glyceryl Stearate. The answer is not necessarily to stop using products with palm oil, the answer is to ensure that is any of your products do contain these ingredients, that the palm oil is sourced sustainably. Demand drives supply, therefore the push for sustainable, deforestation free palm oil is the direction we need to head in. Do your research and ensure you are buying from ethical companies who use sustainable palm oil.
4. Always choose cruelty free.
This one goes without saying! If you want to build an ethical skincare routine, don’t buy products that have been tested on animals, simple. As a general rule, small batch, handmade brands are never tested on animals, and the many of the brands in high street stores are, I’m afraid to say, test on animals. If it’s sold in China, it’s tested on animals, and if it’s owned by L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Maybelline, or most of those big name brands, its ingredients or finished product is tested on animals. By buying these brands, you are effectively supporting their unethical practises. If you buy from a smaller brand that is independently owned, where they make the product in small batches, you are supporting someone’s dream to make a difference to the industry, as well as supporting their lifestyle, feeding their kids, keeping a roof over their heads, the list goes on!