What is Green Beauty?
Posted on May 29 2017
The beauty industry seems to have undergone a real shakeup. It’s no longer about the most beautiful looking products or about celebrity endorsements. Consumers are savvier than ever, and fast becoming socially and ethically aware. Many are turning towards cleaner, greener lifestyles - adopting ‘clean eating’ and the move towards ethical fashion has become huge, so it’s no surprise that the demand for cleaner beauty is on the rise.
But what is green beauty or clean beauty?
With it fast becoming an industry buzz word, it seems that everyone is jumping on the green beauty bandwagon. In fact Sarita Coren, the ‘godmother’ of green beauty herself, recently wrote about the importance of defining ‘green beauty’. With so many brands in the beauty industry claiming to be ‘green’, what started off as a genuine ethos is fast becoming a marketing ploy by larger beauty brands in an attempt in cash in on the green beauty movement. Sarita writes “There has been a dilution of green beauty and the truly authentic, natural brands pay the price.”
There are many advocates on the green beauty scene doing their best to expose ‘greenwashing’ in the beauty industry. Greenwashing? Yup there’s a coined term used to describe brands that spend more on marketing claims about being green & natural than actually implementing ‘green’ practices or ensuring that their products are truly ‘clean’.
Green beauty – natural beauty – clean beauty, are all terms which are floating around in the industry and seem to be used by brands interchangeably in an attempt to emphasise that their products ‘are good for you’. Unfortunately there is no legal definition for any of the above terms, which has led to many greenwashers exploiting the grey areas in the law.
To be honest, this topic is a hotbed for discussion and we could write a post the size of war & peace if we were to delve into it in detail. However, our primary aim in this post is to put forward our interpretation of green beauty and what is now commonly agreed upon by green beauty insiders.
Clean beauty is more of an umbrella term which refers to products which are non-toxic and not harmful whether they are natural or not. We have to remember that there is no such thing as ‘chemical free’ cosmetics. As Kristen Arnett explains “Every ingredient, natural or synthetic is a chemical.” What clean beauty boils down to is avoiding harsh synthetic ingredients which are toxic and carcinogenic and which do not destroy the environment.
Green & Natural beauty tends to offer products which use ingredients which have been sourced from nature, whether land or sea. This can be in the form of botanical (plant) oils and butters to natural sea salts and anything in between, including natural resins like frankincense. As a definition this is a good starting point, but we have to remember that green beauty also incorporates a “commitment to the earth, guarding its resources and the medicinal properties of plants, herb, flowers, etc.” (saritacoren.com)
Essentially green & natural beauty covers a wide spectrum of principles, it’s about moving towards using products that are not harmful to your health and the planet. We agree with Sarita, and feel that being 'green' also means being more socially responsible and ethically aware. This can manifest itself in a multitude of ways, from using fairtrade ingredients, pledging towards social causes on a local or global level to trying to reduce your carbon footprint.
A truly green or natural beauty brand will have all of these principles at the very core of their business model – they were born out of the need and passion to bring natural beauty to the mainstream. It wasn’t a practice that was adopted half-heartedly (as many larger brands have shown to have done) along the way because of the shift in consumers’ attitudes or because it’s the latest fad in the industry that everyone wants to have a share in. Hashtags such as #GreenIsTheNewBlack only reinforce the notion that brands are playing to consumers’ weaknesses and or desires to be greener. But we’re quietly confident that advocates such as Sarita Coren, Kristen Arnett and The Clean Beauty Cult will continue to strive to bring about educating the masses so that we can be better judges and distinguish the genuine from flaky.
And that is the key… How can we avoid being sucked into the vortex and identify the truly green, natural brands out there? It starts by simply educating ourselves, reading those ingredients lists and making informed choices. I've come across numerous brands/products who've used terms like 'pure' or 'natural' on their labeling, but upon reading ingredients discovered that their claim to being natural isn't further from the truth. Look out for ingredients such as SLS, SLES, sodium laureth sulphates, and perfume. You may have already read a previous post ‘Synthetic Vs Natural Fragrance’ in which we explored just the tip of the iceberg when it came to how many potentially toxic chemicals can be used to create a single ‘fragrance’, cited in ingredients lists for cosmetic products.
There is a plethora of information available into harmful vs safe and we simply need to trust ourselves to do the research and not rely solely on brands’ claims that their products are ‘clean’ or that they use ‘natural’ ingredients. Making the switch to safer, cleaner, greener beauty isn’t difficult when you have that knowledge and its starts with research. Visit those health forums, read those articles and scientific studies and make YOUR own choice based on the evidence.
Yes, the larger brands among us can flex their muscle and invest in the latest green technology, which is fantastic, and by no means do we want to belittle this. But sometimes the simple little things can be just as environmentally friendly. For example we source all of our bottles, labels and boxes from British Based manufacturers in a hope to reduce our carbon footprint. The honey and beeswax that we use in our products is from a not-for-profit apiary in Nottinghamshire who re-invest their profits into the upkeep of their British Bees. Yes, we're small but small achievements are still achievements.
Brands that are transparent about their ingredients and clearly show that natural, green beauty is carefully entwined into their core principles, will help you to identify the sincere from the not-so sincere.
What are your thoughts on green beauty? Can you define it further? Is it just a fashionable fad or do you think green beauty is here to stay?
Further Reading on the soapNskin Blog: