YHD Blogs – Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Products in the Cosmetics Industry

This article is part of our “Youth Head Delegate Blog Series” — written by our YHDs! 

By Ruby Pyo

The world of beauty and cosmetics is constantly undergoing changes as consumers constantly continue to look for products that do what they promise. And so, the beauty industry has evolved to become a massive $532 billion dollar industry that millions of people support. But what is hidden and unknown is that it solely relies on other industries that pollute the earth to produce the products we support. Studies show that the beauty industry produces 120 billion units of packaging a year, and the shipping industry that goes hand in hand contributes more than 1 billion tons of CO2 a year. Although we may not perceive it in its entirety, the beauty industry is in fact connected intricately with climate change. But things are looking up for the future of the beauty industry and its impact on the earth. Many beauty brands are finding solutions to diminish their impact on climate change when producing their products. In 2016, the “clean beauty” was worth $11 billion dollars, and will likely be twice its worth in 2025. Sustainable beauty brands have made promises to hydrate, clear your acne, and more all while being cruelty-free, vegan, and eco-friendly. But the remaining question is, why should consumers like ourselves purchase from sustainable and eco-friendly brands?

For consumers, the attractions of sustainable cosmetics outweigh the higher costs. Three major pros of sustainable cosmetics include environmental responsibility, increased effectiveness, and long-term health.

Firstly, modern consumers have grown to become more conscious of their global footprint, as well as their social and environmental responsibilities. But consumers often don’t care about how eco-friendly the packaging of beauty products is. No one would pick up a tub of face mask wrapped in layers of unnecessary plastic and go, “Is this biodegradable? Or could I reuse the tub for something else at home?”. But beauty brands have come up with a solution to this product. Biodegradable packaging and reusing is now our best friend when it comes to sustainability. For example, cotton rounds made of cloth and packaging made of recycled paper allows us to not worry about creating unnecessary plastic waste.

Secondly, research has proven that natural and non-chemical ingredients in beauty products are less likely to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Unlike synthetic chemicals and artificial colours which are often used in products for their publicity and promotion. Sustainable products rely solely on healing ingredients found naturally in plants and animals. For instance, glycerin is a derivative of palm oil. It is a liquid frequently used in soaps, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. It is known to be a natural humectant, meaning it can hold onto water, making it an effective moisturizer. It is non-irritating, anti-ageing, and antimicrobial. Glycerin has all of the abilities of synthetic chemicals without their toxicity, therefore, it is a wonderful example of the natural effectiveness of sustainable cosmetics.  

Thirdly, the long-term effects of synthetic chemicals can be highly toxic to humans and the environment. It has been discovered that years of using them has led to headaches, eye damage, acne, hormonal imbalance and premature aging. By choosing sustainable cosmetics, consumers can invest in both their long-term health and beauty. A preventative measure that you can take to avoid this is to check the ingredients on the back of the product.

On the other hand, you may ask, which beauty brands offer these sustainable products? Wolf & Pine, Skin Essence Organics, The Cure Apothecary are all Canadian beauty brands that are low-waste and sustainable. In the past, I too was guilty of using products from big industries such as Neutrogena, St. Ive’s, etc. But now, I’ve made the transition to using soaps made from natural ingredients such as charcoal and apple cider, which has been life-changing for my skincare regime. So the next time you’re buying your next cleanser, moisturizer, or other product, stop and consider how using this product will affect not only you but the earth.