My thoughts on sustainable cosmetics; is it all about having a plastic free packaging and some natural ingredients or what else is there to it?
A while ago I have been sharing a lot of tips and tricks on how to avoid plastic in the bathroom. Also, I have been sharing a lot on natural and organic cosmetics ever since my blog existed. I always thought that when you get some natural and organic cosmetics which comes in a plastic free (or almsot plastic free) packaging then you are doing it the right way; then you are a conscious consumer and supporting sustainable cosmetics…
… in the past few months however, I got the chance to get to know the persons behind many brands for natural cosmetics, and hence, I got to know a lot more about the brands and what they are doing. The more I have been talking, the more I learned that there is actually much more to ithe topic of sustainability than just using natural ingredients and getting a glass jar instead of a plastic one. I want to share a few of the things I learned in todays post.
What happens with leftover product?
One thing I never really thought of is what is actually happening when a little tiny bit in the production chain goes wrong. When just 1% of one ingredient is too much or too little, the whole batch can no longer be sold. Thousands of liters of really high quality product are lost just because of one little mistake. Things like this happen.
Now what to do with all this product which is still a high quality product but cannot be sold any longer? Naveen is giving away those products for free to people in need. They are giving it to retirement homes, orphanages and similar – instead of throwing it away. When talking with the founders, I realized that this is sustainability too!
Where do the ingredients come from?
When looking at many natural and organic beauty producuts, you will find ingredients from like all over the world. That can be very useful and nice in many cases; but what about using regional ingredients instead? This is actually much more sustainable!
Brands such as Ekolife or Beauty Garden are doing exactly this; they are using ingredients they can find in (respectively) Slovenia (clay) and France (carrots, cucumber, pumpkin…) and make great and high quality cosmetics from them. This is so much more sustainable than importing a bunch of ingredients from all over the world.
Beauty Garden is pretty perfect by the way, as they are not only using all local ingredients but they also have these super beautiful glass and wood jars. I cannot wait for them to enter the German market.
How about fair trade?
Only fair trade can be sustainable. So how are the farmers paid? Especially when a product comes with loads of ingredients from abroad the question of fair trade should be given a thought.
A brand that I got to know this year at the Vivaness fair for natural beauty is Amo Como Soy. They make high quality cosmetics with organic ingredients from Latin America. First I thought that this cannot be really sustainable, getting the ingredients all the way from the other side of the atlantic ocean. However, Amo Como Soy actually links business with social responsiblity and they are giving 2 euro of every product sold to girls in need in Latin America. This is also a way of acting sustainable – as those girls are given a future! I will be sharing more about Amo Como Soy in the future.
What kind of plastic is used, when plastic is used?
I talked like soooo much with Janina from Ringana about the packaging of their products. In the first place I did not even want to try their products just because I wanted to avoid the plastic waste. However, Janina took the time to talk with me about Ringana’s „organic plastic“ which basically is a plastic based on sugar cane; 100% free of mineral oils. And once again I realized that there is so much more to the topic!
I mean is not worth supporting that a brand is using a sugar cane plastic which does actually cost much LESS ressources compared to e.g. making a glass jar? And not only that, for those Ringana products that actually come in a glass jar, there is a return-system so that you can send back 10 empty glass containers for one free product of your choice. The glass containers will then be reused so that less new containers need to be produced.
I gave Ringana a try and I completely fell in love with their tooth oil and their tinted moisturizer.
How are the production machines cleaned?
This is another question I never really thought about. But think about it; no matter how „green“ the product is in the end, when the production machines are cleaned with chemical loaden detergents, the environment will be harmed anyway.
It was again Ringana who made me think about this. They are cleaning their machines with lavender alcohol which is 100% natural and biodegradable.
How much thought is put into organic ingredients?
Doing natural cosmetics does not always mean doing organic cosmetics. Some companies do not really care about how organic the ingredients are in the end. They put like a label on the product saying something like „with organic argan oil“ even though the leftover 99% of the ingredients in the product are actually not organic at all.
Supporting organic farming all over the world goes hand in hand with sustainability, I believe. Conventional farming just cannot be sustainable (pesticides etc.) so checking the products on their content of organic ingredients is something I got to learn.
I was especially amazed by Provida, a German brand which is taking organic to a next level and which is the world’s first brand that is selling 100% organic and even demeter certified nail polish! I am such a fan of it and will share more about it soon.
And finally, how many ressources/money are spend overall on the topic of sustainability?
When I talked with Ringana or with Primavera about the whole topic of sustainability I got to know that they pay actually a whole lot of money on trying to find the most sustainable ways of production, packaging, etc. Primavera recently found out that they save a ton of ressources when they use recycled plastic instead of glass for their products so they actually relaunched a few products in a plastic packaging which has been in a glass jar before. Like this they are not only saving ressources which result from the glass production but they also enhance plastic recycling.
Okay, that’s been a lot for today. Have you ever thought of all these aspects? I mean, when thinking about it, it is always the most sustainable to not buy any products at all, sure. I can totally agree to that. However, the second best option is to really think carefully about which brands to support and which ones not. As I am getting more and more into the whole topic of organic and natural cosmetics, my criteria for what a „good“ brand is are becoming more and more strict. And I am happy about it. Happy about learning more, unlearning some things and relearning other things.
I hope you enjoyed these somehow critical thoughts and I would love to read your opinion about them!