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Sustainability in the Cosmetics Industry

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

'Sustainable' is a real buzz-word in many sectors, however it has been extremely popular to look for eco-friendly and sustainable cosmetic products.

What is sustainability?

"Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

Why is sustainability so important?

Being able to keep a balance between meeting demand today, and guaranteeing that the same level of demand can be sustained in the future means that we are not using resources up faster than they are being produced.

What does this mean for the cosmetics industry?

Sustainable Ingredients

If a cosmetic product requires a certain percentage of an ingredient, and that ingredient is being used in these products at a faster rate than it can be produced - then we may have an issue.

Take palm oil - a hyper popular ingredient in cosmetic formulations. Its demand was so high, that suppliers couldn't keep up with their normal rate of production. That's why they had to increase the size of their plantations, leading to deforestation and habitat destruction.

This was not a sustainable ingredient for the cosmetics industry.

Sustainable packaging

A lot of sustainability issues are linked to raw materials.

One of the largest unsustainable areas of the cosmetics industry is the packaging.

Too many cosmetics contain petroleum derived plastics (not recycled), of which many are made up from crude and non-renewable resources.

This means that the plastic in our cosmetic packaging is using up more raw materials than we could ever produce. Simple, the supply is not meeting the demand - and future generations will run out of it.

Environmentally Sustainable

Some cosmetic ingredients have also been questioned for their potential negative environmental impacts.

Ingredients such as chemical sunscreens have been under the radar for destroying coral reefs. As well as micro plastics in exfoliating creams (which have since been banned).

The issue isn't that we cannot meet the demand here, it's the impact it has on the environment - such as destroying coral reefs and killing fish. If we continue using cosmetics which damage the environment, future generations would not be able to meet their own demands.

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