The climate crisis continues to be at the forefront of public discussion, and many of us are combatting this by adopting a more sustainable way of living. Though you may be improving your recycling habits and avoiding single-use plastic, it’s easy to forget that your everyday health and beauty products may be harming the environment. As a result, commodities containing natural, environmentally-friendly ingredients are becoming more popular with consumers, which means there’s no excuse for sticking to unethical products.
To help you update your beauty regime in the name of sustainability, we’ve highlighted the most harmful ingredients and how you can avoid them.
What to watch out for in your beauty kit
Palm oil is produced in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and as it’s so cheap, you can find it in plenty of products, including shampoo, liquid soap and lipsticks. Unfortunately, it’s also the cause of mass deforestation, destroying the equivalent of 300 football fields worth of land every hour, posing a threat to wildlife, and exploiting labourers who work in dangerous conditions for low wages. Avoiding palm oil isn’t easy, as the ingredient takes over two hundred different names, including vegetable oil, lecithin and stearic acid, making it hard to spot on labels.
Used to create the polymers and silicones found in makeup, face scrubs, body washes and even toothpaste, microbeads are the most common liquid plastics. They may not look harmful, but after being washed down the sink, they end up in the ocean, posing a devastating threat to marine ecosystems. Microbeads can absorb large amounts of toxins, which is great for the people using products which contain them, but these pollutants can then be ingested by over 280 species of marine animals. This affects reproduction and the feeding behaviours, blocking their digestive tracts and altering animal behaviour. As is the case with most harmful chemicals, companies are well aware of their negative effects, and rename microbeads as polyethylene, polypropylene, polylactic acid, and nylon in the ingredients list to avoid detection.
BHA and BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) can be found in lip products, fragrances and deodorants, and are commonly used as preservatives. Both have been found to be extremely toxic to humans, and linked to skin-irritation and organ-system toxicity in consumers.
How to banish these from your beauty regime
1. Explore sustainable brands
Now you know just how badly some of the chemicals in your beauty products can affect the environment, it’s time for an eco-friendly upgrade. Swap your products once you’ve used up your current supply with alternatives packed with natural ingredients. These switches often cost the same, or may even be cheaper than what you’re currently using, proving that a sustainable beauty regime doesn’t have to drain your bank account.
For instance, you could switch your regular lotions for Green Angel’s range of seaweed and essential oil-based beauty products, stocked exclusively by Original Organics, including their hand cream, body lotion and body exfoliator. Seaweed contains amino acids, and vitamins and minerals which have natural anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties, so it can hydrate your skin, heal acne and smooth out any fine lines..
You could also try our Betty Hula range, which is completely vegan-friendly. Start with their body moisturiser, with a natural blend of shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil and aloe vera. Its natural nourishing ingredients will make your skin feel soft and appear radiant, as well as smelling beautiful.
2. Read labels with caution
Checking every product ingredient list may seem an arduous, almost impossible task, because there are so many ingredients to look into. However, you can start small by looking at the products you already own, assessing their ingredients and being on the lookout for anything you might be sceptical of. A quick Google search will reveal what exactly it is, and whether or not it’s bad for the environment. After that, you can make an informed decision about whether you should buy the same product again, or search for a more sustainable alternative.
3. Look for certification seals
As more companies turn to sustainable alternatives for their ingredients, they will almost certainly try to highlight this commitment by stamping their products with certification seals, noting that they are palm-oil free, or approved by the soil association. You could also look for the leaping bunny seal, which guarantees that your products are also not being tested on animals.
Other tips for sustainable beauty
- Avoid packaging with glossy or foil materials
- Don’t buy any fancy packaging with plastic decorations, as these often won’t be recyclable
- Choose simple packaging, or even products with none at all if possible
- Buy your products in bigger bottles, which can stop you from regularly buying smaller single-use containers.
- Swap your synthetic makeup brushes for more eco-friendly alternatives.