With the Extinction Rebellion Climate Change protests causing disruption all over London last week, and veganism growing at 24% on average per year, it has become increasingly clear that society needs to, and is moving towards sustainable consciousness, particularly when purchasing goods.
This growing awareness about the impact of our purchases is particularly evident in the beauty industry, with certain buzz words and jargon flying around – sustainable, clean beauty, cruelty-free, and vegan products. However, it’s difficult for the average consumer to recognise what they mean, and how each one can make a difference.
Fear not, Voir has the breakdown for you.
CRUELTY-FREE – /ˈkro͞oəltēˌfrē/ –
adjective – (of cosmetics or other commercial products) manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals.
As China announced this month on 3rd April that it would be renouncing its compulsory animal testing by 2020, it meant that many of our favourite beauty brands would be making a move to becoming cruelty-free. For example, NARS, founded by makeup artist Francois Nars in 1994 was once cruelty-free, with Nars himself being a vegan. However, in 2017 the brand announced that, despite being against animal testing, it would begin selling its products to the ever-growing Chinese market.
In a public statement, the company said: ‘We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law.’
The move to the Chinese market called for the boycott of NARS from vegan and Animal Rights Activist consumers, however, NARS isn’t the only beauty company to have a similar policy. French skincare brand Avéne claims on its website it abides by ‘European
cosmetic legislation’ that requires ‘manufacturers to use alternatives methods to test new raw cosmetic material and finished products’ – yet they fail to disclose that by also selling their products in China they aren’t a cruelty-free brand overall.
However, the real difficulty comes when brands are owned by larger conglomerates – for example, Too Faced is famously known for being and having always been a cruelty-free brand. Because the brand is owned by large beauty conglomerate Estée Lauder, who sell their products, alongside other subsidiaries they own, in China, meaning as a company Too Faced aren’t entirely cruelty-free.
Thus, since Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) announcement that, the Chinese government has approved nine new methods for cosmetic testing methods that do not involve animals, is a huge step towards worldwide animal welfare. After all we shouldn’t have to pick between the love of beauty, and love of our pets.
Spot cruelty-free products yourself by looking for these two symbols on packaging.
VEGAN – /ˈviːɡ(ə)n/
adjective – using or containing no animal products.
As Hourglass has pledged to make all its products vegan by 2020, similarly to the pledge made by the Chinese government – cruelty-free brands are also making an increased effort to make their products vegan as well.
It’s often surprising that animal products could be in makeup and skincare items, but animal fats, beeswax, and carmine (a red pigment made from crushed bugs) are in more ingredient lists than you would think. For example, ingredients such as glycerin, collagen, gelatine, retinol can all be derived animal by-products.
Ultimately one of the main attractions to Veganism in beauty products is not just animal welfare, but for the benefits to the environment, as the keep and slaughter of livestock accounts for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.
adjective – Products conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.
As most of our beauty products are not going to last you for life and ultimately have a shelf-life, the beauty industry doesn’t have the best reputation for reducing waste. Thousands of non-recyclable beauty products and its packaging get thrown away everyday without a second thought.
It’s from this, that the sustainable beauty movement has begun – companies like The Body Shop and Aveda are the frontrunners of the movement, by creating products which are either made from recycled products, can be recycled, or can be repurposed.
For example, The Body Shop have marketed their glass pot and tubs as repurposed plant pots, and Aveda claim to be ‘the first beauty company using 100% post-consumer recycled PET’, and the ‘first beauty company manufacturing with 100% wind power’. Furthermore, sustainable beauty doesn’t stop at the packaging, its also to do with the sourcing of the ingredients too. Look for the Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance logos to see if your next skincare purchase is sustainably sourced.
adjective – products that are mindfully created and produced without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients.
The clean beauty movement, also known as natural beauty, or organic beauty, has somewhat been influenced by new wave spirituality and pseudoscience adopted by the likes Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goopand more recently Kourtney Kardashian’s Poosh.
In the same way that pseudoscience believes in using natural ingredients and methods to treat illnesses – clean beauty products claim to only use organic and natural derivatives in their ingredient list. The belief is that because your body absorbs anything you put on your skin, accounting for what you put onto your body is just as important as what you put in it.
Although anything can be reduced to being a chemical, clean beauty products don’t include any harsh chemicals -such as parabens, alcohol, petroleum jelly, and PEGs – and use as many essential and naturals oils for any beauty needs.
Furthermore, clean beauty products all tend to be cruelty-free, sustainably sourced, and vegan – with the aim of being as clean in ethics as its ingredients. It’s because of this environmental consciousness that clean beauty has that so many environmental activists recommend everyone going clean.
To check how ‘clean’ your products are try the Think Dirty app which allows you to record all of your beauty products and gives them a rating out of 0-10 on how toxic its ingredients are.