For most of us, beauty isn’t a huge part of our lives…not in comparison to our jobs, families, studies etc. It’s an enjoyable past-time; something that makes us feel good. In the global market, however, it’s taken very seriously indeed. Women spend approx. $33 billion a year on beauty products, and this number is set to rise (statista.com). Skincare alone accounted for 33.8% of the global market in 2010. It’s such a whopping chunk of the global economy (more than is spent on T.V’s or even new foreign cars) that choosing our beauty products is, and should be, considered just as much a political choice as choosing what foods to buy. Companies like Proctor & Gamble (which owns most of the market sector) have the power to change lives, be it through fair wages, stopping animal testing, helping change the way women view themselves, or what they lobby for in Washington.
So here we women are with the potential to create a huge change in the world, and with this in mind, we need to vote with our dollars…and our hearts. I firmly believe that some companies believe – in fact, bank on the fact – that women are naive and easily tricked by glossy and glamorous advertising, which I think is incredibly insulting. I’m sure that most of the readers of this blog are already making compassionate and savvy choices about what beauty products they buy, but here is a little extra inspiration, if you need it!
1. Buy from local, independent retailers.
There’s a pay-off to be made when you’re into green beauty. You want to explore new brands, and so we join subscription services to explore those new brands, or order products from companies that then get shipped half-way across America. And I’m guilty of this too! I have two subscription boxes, and love them both. At the same time, I’m aware that this isn’t the most compassionate choice in terms of the environment, and being into green beauty it seems hypocritical. I justify it through knowing that at least I am now buying from smaller, independent companies that themselves make green choices, but when I can I like to buy local. This isn’t always easy when, like me, you live in the suburbs, but local farmer’s markets are awesome places to check out upcoming independent beauty brands. As a blogger, I really want to start showcasing some of these smaller companies that struggle to compete with the bigger brands.
2. Buy from companies that ethically source and produce their products.
We don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes at some of these big companies, even in the green beauty world. A lot of us prefer to use mineral makeup, but mica is often a major ingredient…unfortunately, mica is also the focus of a major human rights violation occurring in India right now, where 60% of the world’s mica is sourced. Child labor is endemic in the mica mines, and there is very little regulation of the industry. (Guardian.com) It is now at the point where Lush has decided to remove the use of mica from its products. If you’re interested to discover which companies have high ethical standards and fair trade practices, you can start exploring resources online such as this one. A general rule of thumb though, is that companies that work hard to maintain a vegan and all-natural product line do tend to be more ethically inclined. Which is no surprise, really.
3. Buy from companies that are cruelty-free and don’t test on animals.
This should be self-evident I think, but if your product doesn’t have the cruelty-free bunny logo on it, don’t buy it! Some companies claim to be cruelty-free, but their parent company still tests on animals. So you’re still funding animal testing! Peta.org has amazing resources to help. Check out their searchable database and other resources here.
4. Source your own products!
You can always source your own beauty products for complete peace of mind! Mountain Rose Herb Company have essential oils, herbs, butters such as shea and mango, and much more at reasonable prices. What’s more, they are organic, fair-trade, ethically harvested, and kosher. That’s pretty good! And explore some of the DIY recipes on this site (and other blogs!) that use kitchen ingredients like salt, sugar, and coconut oil.
5. Read the ingredients labels!
As I write about at my ‘Why’ page, the FDA has basically no control over the use of chemicals in beauty/skincare products…not even to recall products that are causing harm or allergic reactions. Parabens are just the tip of the iceberg…most unpronounceable synthetics in our products are known carcinogens or cause hormonal disruption, and it’s criminal that companies are allowed to put these in our products. Whilst non-profits like the Environmental Working Group are applying pressure on the Government to grant the FDA more power to regulate and recall products, very little progress has been made. So right now, it’s up to us, the consumers, to educate ourselves on the topic and avoid buying products loaded with chemicals. Read my beginner’s guide for more help in this department!
I hope there are some useful, thought-provoking ideas here, and this doesn’t come across as mega-preachy! But as you can tell, this is an issue close to my heart…if you have any more tips or resources, please write about them in the comments.