Most of us have heard the term sustainable beauty, but when it comes to what exactly that means, the answers can be varied and fuzzy. At its core, sustainability refers to human behavior that allows harmony with nature to exist for future generations. When it comes to body care and beauty products, sustainability means a commitment to care for the environment through company policies. This includes the production process itself, what kind of ingredients are sourced to make the products, and, of course, packaging. If you are personally committing to sustainability but haven’t yet transitioned to sustainable beauty, here are the basic guidelines for making the shift.

Use Up What You Have

Throwing out unused products isn’t exactly sustainable, in fact, it’s downright wasteful. So, when you decide to make the switch to sustainable beauty, don’t toss your old products. Instead, use them up with the consciousness that when they are gone you will recycle or compost the packaging and then replace them with a sustainable beauty product. It may be tempting to start stocking your bathroom with coconut water lotion and mineral makeup, but let your excitement about adding sustainable products blind you from the true meaning of sustainability.

Pay Attention to Packaging

Reuseable, compostable, and recyclable packaging is best when it comes to sustainable products. Plastics, however, are best if you avoid them because of the current planetary plastic waste crisis. While a package made from recycled plastic does show good effort, it’s never a guarantee that the purchaser of the product will make the effort to recycle the bottle when it is empty. Look for glass, bamboo, recycled paper and cardboard, refillable, and biodegradable bioplastic packaging.

Do a Little Research

Check out a company before you buy the products. Some companies use sustainable beauty as more of a marketing term than a real commitment. Find out as much as you can about company policies on things such as animal testing, use of ingredients like palm oil, which is devastating rain forests, and even use of wind and solar power in production and office operations. Carbon neutral and eco-friendly shipping policies are also a good thing to look into if you’re serious about buying only sustainable beauty products.

Look for Harmless Ingredients

Look for products that consciously choose ingredients that do not cause environmental degradation. Sourcing ingredients should not destroy forests, deplete the earth or be full of synthetic pesticides. Look for biodegradable ingredients that will not add potentially harmful chemicals to the earth and its waterways. Some toxic ingredients have even been banned at this point in the beauty industry. Look for ingredients that are more easily regenerative in a way that is giving back to the environment, not just taking.

A more recent and very interesting trend we can probably expect to see more of in the future is the use of by-product ingredients. Many useful natural by-products are created in manufacturing processes that can be used by the beauty industry. The use of such by-products can reduce waste while at the same time potentially offering more cost-effective ingredients.

Buy Products Consciously

Whenever possible, buy products directly from the company that makes them. You can also purchase them from a store that uses more sustainable practices. For example, a local food co-operative or a store with a commitment to renewable energy and sustainable practices. Once you determine whether a product works for you, consider buying in bulk. You first have to check if that option is available. If so, it can save you a little expense and may also reduce packaging and production waste.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when switching to sustainable beauty. Some brands may use the term “sustainable beauty” to sell products to consumers who care about the planet. However, you often have to dig deeper if you want to switch to truly sustainable beauty care.

Author: Finnegan Pierson

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