These days, it’s a fairly standard practice to opt for an environmentally-friendly beauty routine. Reaching for a marine-friendly face wash, cruelty-free makeup line, or sustainable shampoo is not out of the ordinary. As more people begin to care about where their favorite products come from and how they may impact our world, it’s not surprising that some companies try to hide their true origins. With this in mind, many of us have been asking the question, “Are my hair products eco-friendly?” Thankfully, there are several ways to find out. Here are some tips and tricks on how to make environmentally-conscious choices as a beauty consumer!
Are You Being “Greenwashed?”
It’s safe to say that we’ve all purchased products that claim to be “green,” but in fact aren’t. Often times, the most green thing about them is the label. Think packaging covered in trees and floral patterns with the word “Natural” splayed across the packaging. This is actually a marketing technique often referred to as “greenwashing,” or “the green sheen.” You can spot greenwashing campaigns fairly easily by a simple flip of the bottle. A quick scan of the ingredients will usually prove the opposite.
Typically, when you come across a product with vague imagery, little details, and zero certifications, it probably isn’t natural, eco-friendly, or cruelty-free. One of the most well known examples of greenwashing is St. Ives. By now, most people know that St. Ives scrubs are not good for your skin. The walnut shells within their formula can actually cause microtears on the face and exacerbate skin issues. But beyond the surface damage that your face might endure, St. Ives products are nowhere near “100% Natural.” Sure, maybe they contain a single natural ingredient, but that doesn’t mean the entire formula is natural. Sadly, this tactic is very common amongst drugstore and high-end brands, so it’s important to look for these signs before heading to the register.
Parent Companies: Who Is Who?
Another way to investigate how genuine your favorite cosmetics are is by looking at the parent company. Oftentimes, a product line will be made with the environment in mind, but simultaneously owned by a less-than-friendly parent company. A parent company is pretty much what it sounds like: a large, single entity that has some level of control over many smaller companies. Examples of parent companies within the beauty industry include Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal, and Johnson & Johnson.
But what does this all mean? Here’s 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 may be! But, since they are owned by Shiseido and sold in countries that enforce animal testing, they are 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 they may be the reason why a line is or isn’t eco-friendly.
Look for Certifications
Certification badges can be extremely helpful when you’re out shopping and not sure what to buy. These “Eco Certs” are awarded based on third-party, independent investigations with the purpose of proving what they claim. The most well-known certification amongst beauty 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’re looking for a product that is certified organic, look for the “USDA Organic” badge, the “NSF” International 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.” The ultimate certification is the B Corporation, or “B Corp,” certification. B Corp companies are graded on the treatment of employees, environmental impact, company governance, and community outreach. So any product from a B Corp company is sure to be as eco as you can get.
Use Existing Resources
If you’re looking for more detailed guidance on eco-friendly products, try an environmental directory. These online resources contain years of factual information and study, compiled into easy-to-digest lists that act as a search engine. One of the best is a website called Cruelty-Free Kitty. Here you can find detailed information about products and their parent companies, as well as alternatives to your favorite lines. If you are a someone who would like more information on fully vegan lines and brands, try out Ethical Elephant. Either way, resources like these can help you make ethical and informed beauty decisions.
Looking for advice on switching to a clean beauty routine? HERE’s how to get started!