Beauty With a Conscience

by Charisse Kenion

green beauty by charisse kenionImage: Charisse Kenion

 

While I think I might have recycling on lock, and know exactly where my fruit and veg is coming from, trying to be more mindful of the beauty products I buy is more of a challenge. Over the past decade the demand for natural products – i.e. exclusively featuring ingredients that come from nature – has grown massively. So much so, that these ingredients are now being produced on such scales that aren’t sustainable. Add to this our desire to experiment with veganism or decrease our plastic usage – something that the beauty industry has probably been the slowest to react to – and trying to reduce our own personal carbon footprint is confusing and seemingly impossible. While the thousands of brands that make up this industry try to work out what they can, and are willing to do – Lush, for example, has offered a 60 percent naked product range for some time now, and is making efforts to increase this percentage – it’s up to us to decide who we choose to spend our money on. 

Although trying to make better decisions – for my bank balance and my skin – can’t always mean reaching for natural brands or naked products, I can support building a better environment in other ways, by buying products from brands that give follow-on benefits, such as paying the wages of local communities, donating to charity, or having a serious recycling mission statement.

Here’s a small sample of what some brands are doing, but I’d love to know who and what you love, too!

green beauty products

Haeckels is a brand that calls itself a ‘tiny giant’ and states from the get-go what its mission is; to ‘manufacture the most effective natural products from sustainable resources… and implement solutions to aid our planet’s ocean crisis.’ Sounds good right? How the brand puts this ethos into practice is by focusing on one key, health-giving ingredient: seaweed, which there’s plenty of right outside their company HQ in seaside town Margate, UK. What’s more, once you’ve finished with your Traditional Seaweed Bath or Seaweed + Salicylic Powder Exfoliant, you can send the packaging straight back to the brand free of charge, or simply return it at their store in Margate. You’ll also receive a 15 percent discount off your next purchase. For an even heftier discount, if you post a picture of your beach-cleaning efforts on Instagram and use the hashtag #HaeckelsBeachClean, you’ll get 40 percent off.
Learn more about their Rubbish for Rubble program here.

green beauty products

 

Sana Jardin has been described as the ‘world’s first socially conscious luxury fragrance house’ and is fully focused on creating local female entrepreneurs. More recently British Vogue’s Contributing Beauty Ed Funmi Fetto celebrated the brand for being proof that being ‘conscious’ and ‘chic’ needn’t be mutually exclusive. While the brand creates beautiful fragrances, the flowers used in each perfume are harvested by indigenous women in Morocco as part of its Beyond Sustainability Movement, which uses flower recycling to share the value with those involved. This allows the women they work with to create their own micro enterprises through skill development, waste reduction, and sustainable business practices, such as the upcycling of flower waste. Just to give you an idea of how much waste would typically occur through fragrance production, before Sana Jardin’s sustainability movement: 900 tons of orange blossom by-products yielded annually could end up as landfill waste.

green beauty products

Disciple London is a brand rooted in science, which is the arena that the beauty industry is going to have to turn to more and more, if it’s going to have any kind of sustainable future. Created by psychotherapist Charlotte Ferguson, Disciple is a London-based brand that wants to help those with stressed-out skin. Anxiety, stress and low-mood are all factors that contribute to how we feel, but also how we look, resulting in acne, eczema and premature aging. As up to 70 percent on our skincare is absorbed into the body, the brand creates adaptogen-rich formulas to help the mind and body deal with stress. Adaptogens are kind of a buzzword right now, but they’ve existed in your herbal teas for quite some time – what they actually are, are non-toxic plants, or herbs, that help the body adapt and deal with stress. So it totally makes sense that we should be trying them on our skin. To ensure you’re getting the absolute best quality, Disciple only produces hand-blended, small batches at a time, and only uses clean ingredients, i.e. they aren’t harmful to your health.

green beauty products

Rahua is one of those brands you could be forgiven for doubting any connection to caring for the planet; I say this because it’s just so damn luxe. From the beautifully designed packaging – admittedly plastic but it’s 100 percent recyclable – to the divine fragrances used – Rahua doesn’t really look like it’s an environmentally-conscious brand. However, dig deeper into the brand’s ethos and you’ll find it’s focused on plant-derived hydration that gives back by donating profits towards protecting the rainforest and those who live in it. 
Founders Fabian Lliguin and Anna Ayers work alongside the indigenous people of the Amazon to farm rainforest-grown ingredients only from self-sustained forests, and they promise to never harvest non-regenerative rainforest ingredients. So far the brand has preserved 37,500 hectares of pristine and biodiverse tribal lands deep in the Amazon Forest for perpetuity – ultimately producing oxygen and offsetting their carbon footprint. Furthermore, Rahua’s founders also created environmental group – Ecoagents – to carry out the ongoing Pink Flamingos Project, a continuous environmental clean-up effort to clear the natural habitat of flamingos and other endemic species of plastic and other trash.  

 

Rockwell is probably my most recent, most satisfying discovery. I absolutely hate the fact that women’s razors cost more (like, WHY?), contain higher amounts of plastic and come in every color of the rainbow, when, let’s be real, all they do is remove our body hair. Add to this the fact that TWO BILLION blades end up in the trash every, single, year, and it’s clear we could all afford to do our bit to change things up. As well as using Swedish steel that won’t rust – and promises the smoothest shave ever – Rockwell’s blades come with a lifetime guarantee, as well as a recyclable Blade Safe to ensure safe disposal of used blades. When you purchase a razor, you can also purchase up to 100 blades for just 12 dollars – which works out to around 10 cents a blade, as opposed to the usual $1 to $5. Less waste means less harm to the environment via the shipping cycle – gas emissions etc. Although the brand seems very men-heavy, I can imagine there are plenty of women spending money on these razors, because it makes total sense.

So, that’s just five examples of how what you choose to buy, can have an incremental, yet so necessary, effect on how we might be living in the future. But for every Haeckel or Rahua, there are plenty more brands setting out to do things differently. It’s not about guilt, it’s about being mindful – and if you’re dead set on only using vegan, or natural, or sustainably sourced brands, Google is the best tool you have. 

 

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