How Sustainable is Clean Beauty?

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How Sustainable is Clean Beauty?

The general consensus regarding clean beauty is that it is the best form of cosmetic formulation as it helps both the planet and our skin. Many bloggers, journalists and other influencers share this viewpoint across the internet, so it is easily available and highly impactful for everyone.

With a huge number of people becoming increasingly concerned with our human actions on the environment, the determination to find completely sustainable products is overpowering. But how sustainable is clean beauty really?

Is Clean Beauty the Most Sustainable Option?

Risks of Sourcing ‘Natural’ Ingredients

Although the answer is not a blanket ‘no’, some clean beauty ingredients are not the most sustainable option. Unfortunately, the increased demand for natural resources puts a number of species under threat, especially those that were scarce to begin with.

An example of this is Kalahari Truffles, a delicacy and luxury treat in restaurants that has now become a desired cosmetic ingredient. They are extremely localised to the Kalahari Desert and are completely dependent on adequate rainfall, only bearing fruit when rain is properly distributed.

Commercial harvest has significantly increased, and the truffles are no longer just being hunted for food sources. They have become popular for cosmetic use due to their anti-ageing abilities and protection against UV radiation. This has caused the Kalahari Truffles to be at risk of disappearing altogether.

Already considered as a rarity, if scarce resources like Kalahari Truffles aren’t replaced after harvest, there is extreme risk of natural resources becoming extinct and having negative impacts on the environment.

What About ‘Nature Identical’ Ingredients?

Nature identical ingredients have been manufactured to be molecularly identical to ingredients originally found within nature. Humans are incredibly capable of synthesising these ingredients and they can bring many benefits such as being cheaper, including less contaminates and being much more sustainable.

When natural ingredients may be unsustainable to source directly, nature identical ingredients offer a sustainable alternative. However, then the question is raised of whether they are in fact natural ingredients and fit the clean beauty criteria. Even when they are exactly the same in their chemical structure, the synthetic element of these ingredients raises doubt in consumer minds.

How Can Clean Beauty Be Sustainable?

Clean Beauty is such a complex cosmetic trend and movement that there isn’t a black and white answer to these sustainability issues. Alongside no governed definitions of what ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ essentially mean, it is down to the individual consumer or the specific cosmetic brand to align ingredients with their particular ethics.

Of course, we believe that natural and clean beauty advocates care about sustainability and the preservation of our planet’s future, but there is a much bigger picture to look at. There isn’t just one factor to assess and analyse whether it fits with sustainable practices. It is a number of processes and decisions within an in-depth, extensive system that need to be looked into.

Consumers: Remember to read up on a brand’s philosophy and their ingredient list and do your own research to come to your own decision about whether it is ‘clean’ for you. Cosmetic brands: Encourage transparency and make your ethics known to your customers; explain where and how your ingredients came from and why you chose to use them

Being as transparent and clear as possible will help cut through the confusion of clean beauty and help consumers make their choices. Have any questions or would like to discuss this topic further? Get in touch with our experts today.


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