What to look for in a sustainable beauty brand

There are so many companies claiming to be a sustainable beauty brand that it can be difficult to find one that is ethical. Here’s our guide for what to look for from ingredients to packaging and everything in between.  

Almost every brand boasts about natural ingredients, but not all natural ingredients are what they claim to be. Natural sounding ingredients and clean beauty claims are a few examples of greenwashing. 

In 2017, the Soil Association released a report ‘Campaign for Clarity’. It said 76% of consumers felt misled by brands. Products were tested and found not to measure up to organic standards or were not certified. Some products, labelled as organic, although not certified, contained ingredients that were derived from petrochemicals or were potentially carcinogenic. 

Find a sustainable beauty brand

Look for products that are certified organic. Conscious Skincare is one such brand where the majority of ingredients are certified by the Soil Association, EcoCert, or the USDA. The full range of InLight Beauty products have Cosmos Organic Certification or the Soil Association. UpCircle Beauty also uses Cosmos approved ingredients. 

Cruelty free products are considered essential by customers. Look for beauty brands that are Peta approved or have the Cruelty Free International leaping bunny symbol. These have not been tested on animals. Many of these products are also plant-based and so they are suitable for vegans.

One further consideration is making sure that ingredients don’t include palm oil. It is well documented that large scale farming of palm oil has driven large scale deforestation. Ethical beauty brands will not use palm oil in their ingredients. They ’palm off the palm oil’ – as do Upcircle Beauty, Inlight Beauty and Conscious Skincare. 

Small scale artisanal production means that beauty brands can ensure traceability of their ingredients. They can choose to buy locally produced ingredients. This reduces transport emissions and supports local suppliers. UpCircle Beauty won our Circular Economy award in 2020 for their use of recycled ingredients. 

The best brands clearly state the ingredients in their products. This puts them at risk of competition. But a clear ingredients list means that consumers can be sure of what they are buying. 

Ethical beauty business

Ethical brands want to be a part of a community and give back. They support projects that are close to their hearts. UpCircle Beauty supports Refuge, a domestic abuse charity. They also support The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and Save The Elephant. Conscious Skincare supports Greenacres, a local animal rescue centre. InLight Beauty works with fair trade suppliers on packaging. They support the Black’s Cornish Bees project and the Wildlife Trust. 

Plastic free packaging is another sign of a sustainable beauty brand. This can mean reusing containers, offering a recycling scheme or opting for other materials like glass or aluminium. 

Environmentally minded companies are looking for ways to go net zero in their production lines. For example, InLight Beauty uses 100% green electricity from solar power. They look at every aspect of their business to see where it can be made more energy efficient or more sustainable. 

Being part of Blue Patch’s sustainable business community means that businesses can learn how to become more sustainable. They often collaborate with others to find better ways of doing business. For example swapping notes on what packaging to buy. Join us today.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.