How to Shop the Beauty Aisle for Sustainability

Our modern lifestyles are rough on the planet, and it shows. In the October issue, Women’s Health reveals how beauty companies are no longer reducing the green convo to whether a product is “natural” or “organic”.

They’re paying attention to every single way their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes affect you and the earth.

Since, it can be confusing I’ve created some ideas on what to look for next time you shop the beauty aisle.

A few tips and corresponding product picks:

•         Avoid Microbeads: 

Those plastic balls in face scrubs found their way into waters, fish, and now us.

Last year Congress passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act, banning manufacturing of the ingredient by next year.
Look for products with jojoba wax instead – a plant-based ingredient that is biodegradable.

•         Recycle Through the Brand: 

Some companies have created programs that make recycling easier than ever. Burt’s Bees has a program for all of its lip-care products – and you can print a prepaid mailing label from their website.

•         Look for Refillable Containers: 

Using the same bottle or container eliminates even the energy it takes to recycle.

Makeup compacts are the easiest place to make the switch.

Some boutiques sell products out of giant vats and into a bottle that you can continually reuse.

•         Be Water-Wise with Concentrates: 

Avoid buying skin products where water is listed as the first ingredient.

Balms and serums can deliver ingredients into skin without the need for water.

The United Nations estimated that 1.8 billion people will live in regions with absolute water scarcity by 2025 – so wasting a drop on your beauty routine is practically a crime against humanity.

•         Check the Seal: 

Look for labels that say Ecocert, Cradle to Cradle, Fair Trade Certified, or Rainforest Alliance.

Any of them mean these products went through a third-party vetting process to prove they meet sustainability guidelines.

•         Choose Biodegradable: 

Cleansers and cleansing wipes eliminate the need for water – and you can trash them.

•         Be Careful with Glass: 

In theory glass can be recycled, but the reality is that different colors don’t always get sorted, and transporting them can increase CO2 fumes.

To be sustainable, buy glass items with longer shelf lives, like fragrances, or products made in small batches to minimize waste.

•         Plastic Isn’t Always Bad: 

It’s light-weight, which means fewer CO2 emissions when shipped than glass – and at least a portion of many bottles consist of post-consumer recycled content (PCR).

Some brands use 100 percent PCR plastic recovered from the ocean.

•         Don’t Always Assume Natural is better: 

If the only way to get the natural version is by schlepping to some far-flung place – which could take more energy and release more CO2 emissions – it could actually make more sense to use a synthetic version.

When you do opt for a natural product, look for local, sustainably grown ingredients.

To find out more, visit Women’s Health!