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Everything you need to know about having a more sustainable beauty routine

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

Here is a handy list for you to know exactly how to make your beauty routine more sustainable.

Have you ever stopped to wonder about the environmental impact caused by your cosmetics, beauty and personal care products? The effects of these products can be severe and irreversible for the planet. But the beauty industry, has awaken to a new dawn, by adapting their practises to increase a sustainable beauty routine.

By the way, sustainable is often a casually thrown word to refer to products, manufacturing processes or even ingredients. But unfortunately, the truth is that the cosmetics industry’s pollution goes deeper than that, and it is important to differentiate the companies that focus on environmental preservation strategies.

This concern is justified by the fact that the demand for products from the cosmetics and personal care industry is increasing and is expected to grow by more than 5% in the coming years. As more men join the beauty wave, the women dominated market, is expected to grow by multitudes.

With this potential production growth, the impact of the cosmetics industry on the environment also increases. Whether through the use of chemicals, the exploitation of natural resources, air pollution or the massive production of plastics, the cosmetics sector contributes significantly to environmental degradation and the emission of the greenhouse gases (GHG).

That is why it is necessary that a company not only promote itself as sustainable, but that in fact play a positive role in favour of the planet. So, here’s a handy list for you to know exactly how to make your beauty routine more sustainable.

Reducing a carbon footprint of your beauty routine

The cosmetics industry can impact the environment in many ways (Image: Hillary Allison/Treehugger)

The environmental impacts caused by the cosmetics industry extend from the extraction and supply of raw materials, through the manufacturing process of products and reaching the distribution chain and waste generation of consumers.

More than the mountains of plastics generated through the production of disposable packaging, cosmetics also promote negative effects with the emission of pollutants, the use of chemicals and the exploitation of fauna and flora, which can cause damage to various ecosystems.

The environmental damage caused by the cosmetics industry is far-reaching, but consumers have the power to reduce these impacts and establish a more sustainable beauty routine. Here are some tips for you to remember.

Keeping an eye on the labels: attention to the chemicals products

Some products can cause issues for the environment and also for your healthy (Image: Pixabay)

One of the biggest issues in the cosmetics industry is the use of chemical components for the production. Most of these components do not decompose after being discarded and can accumulate in the oceans and the atmosphere, increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases and harming the waters of the earth.

In this way, it is necessary that you pay attention to the composition of the products that you consume. Keep an eye on the list of ingredients that make up your product and make sure that they are safe for you and the environment.

To help you, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has developed the Skin Deep online database, where you can check the safety of certain products, brands or ingredients. The platform has more than 89 thousand registered products and you can access it for free.

Also, pay attention to products that are based on organic and natural ingredients, as even this type of product is not free of problems. Even organic companies need to prevent their products from spoiling on the store shelves, causing some of them to resort to synthetic chemicals to act as preservatives, thus maintaining the quality of their products.

Take a time to get to know the ingredients that make up your product and research the company’s history by analyzing its manufacturing processes and if any problems that have already been generated by a particular product.

Protecting animals and plants without losing style

Despite being contested, animal testing is still a very common practice in the cosmetics industry (Image: Nova cosméticos)

peaking of organic products, the exploitation of natural resources is another frequent activity in the production of cosmetics and personal care products. Whether by extracting oils and plants or carrying out tests on animals, the fauna and flora of different ecosystems can also be impacted by the beauty industry.

According the European Parliament, about 80% of countries in the world still allow testing on animals for the production of cosmetics and other beauty products, although opposition to this type of practice has been growing in recent years.

Mice, rats, dogs, rabbits, monkeys, fish and birds are just some of the examples of species that are subjected to tests and other experimentation that can take animals to death. The practice is questioned not only by the ethical sense, but also by the environmental one, as most animals are taken from nature to undergo experiments.

In addition, these tests are already proven to be resource-intensive, as they require larger spaces for ventilation, temperature stabilization and constant lighting, which increases energy consumption and further increases the carbon footprint of the activity.

The flora’s exploitation is also recurrent in the cosmetics industry and some natural materials are the basis of most products in the sector. One example is palm oil, a plant substance that appears in most cosmetics and has been unsustainably exploited in recent years. Between 2015 and 2018 alone, more than 500 square miles of rainforest were devastated in Southeast Asia to harvest the product.

Deforestation for the harvest of palm oil in itself is already a big pollutant, because it increases the incidence of fires and consequently releases tons of carbon into the environment and reduce the number of trees capable of retaining atmospheric gases.

Therefore, the concern with the materials that give rise to a product should be not only because of their chemical composition, but also with the other ingredients that are used and the way they are produced.

We often pay more attention to product claims than to the composition itself, but the fact is the way that the ingredients are sourced and manufactured can also have a significant impact on the environment.

So, prioritize products that have third-party environmental seals and certifications that prove that a certain product adopts sustainable practices in its manufacturing. At Reflora, we have the example of the carbon reduction seals, which attest to the commitment and action of companies with the reduction in the emission of gases that cause the greenhouse effect.

Blogging gives your site a voice, so let your business’ personality shine through. Are you a creative agency? Go wild with original blog posts about recent projects, cool inspirational ideas, or what your company culture is like. Add images, and videos to really spice it up, and pepper it with slang to keep readers interested. Are you a programmer? Stay on the more technical side by offering weekly tips, tricks, and hacks that show off your knowledge of the industry. No matter what type of business you have, one thing is for sure - blogging gives your business the opportunity to be heard in a way in a different and unconventional way.

Preserve the air that you breathe

Spray and aerosol products pollute the air as much as the vehicles (Image: Pixabay)

Air pollution is another very significant impact of the cosmetics industry. A study made by the Science Magazine showed that perfumes, hair sprays and deodorants pollute the air as much as CO2 emissions from vehicles.

Through the interaction of the chemical particles of these products with the atmosphere, a new very dangerous particulate material is developed: PM2.5, which can affect the respiratory and pulmonary tracts, in addition to altering the quality of the air that we breathe.

In the United Kingdom, there is already talk of establishing policies for the control and reduction of domestic emissions of aerosol substances and other harmful gases to the environment. Therefore, the recommendation is to avoid spray or aerosol products.

A good suggestion is that you can replace spray deodorants with roll-on or products that apply directly to the skin. Flavoring agents can be replaced by natural products, as they guarantee purer air and free from harmful substances to the planet.

If you want to understand the size of the impact caused by these products, you can calculate your carbon footprint on the Reflora website and learn about the best strategies to reduce or offset your greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Plastic: the great villain of the cosmetics industry

Mass production and disposal of plastics are the biggest emission sources of gases in the cosmetics industry (Image: Lar Plásticos)

The most critical point in this sector can be considered the generation of waste, mainly plastic, since most of the products are packaged in different types of pots and bottles that are hardly or almost never reused. Information from Zero Waste Week shows that the global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion packages on average a year, most of which are made of plastic, whose disposal accounts for up to 70% of the sector’s carbon emissions.

Many of these materials can take centuries to decompose and the mountain of plastic waste generated affects the planet in different ways. Therefore, conscious consumption is also necessary after your beauty routine, with the correct disposal and recycling of materials.

Some products are being launched with reusable packaging, where you can buy just the refill and replace the material, thus reducing the waste generation.

Other suggestion is to offer a new destination for your product packaging. Empty cream jars, for example, can be reused as plant stands. If these containers cannot be easily reused, be sure to dispose of them properly so they can still be reused.

Carbon Neutrality: the new goal of Sustainable Beauty

Carbon neutrality is a concept that seeks to ensure that our consumption habits and products have a lower environmental impact on the planet, focusing on minimizing and neutralizing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

Being carbon neutral means that the amount of CO2 produced is equal to or less than the amount captured or withdrawn from the environment. In this way, carbon neutrality ensures that the gases we emit through our actions are net zero, thus minimizing the effects of global warming.

The first point in the search for carbono neutrality is through the calculation of carbon emissions. It is from this calculation that we are able to identify where the main sources of pollution of a given activity are, enabling the definition of more assertive strategies for the reduction or compensation of these emissions.

Once emissions are measured, the strategies must go through a reduction phase, which consistis in a way to reduce CO2 emissions as Much as possible. Anything that cannot be reduced then must be offset, which is done through the purchase of carbon credits.

Carbon credits are special instruments that can be purchased to offset carbon dioxide emissions. Their cost represents an amount needed to remove an equivalent amount (usually 1 ton) of CO2 from the environment, and can vary depending on several factors.

At Reflora, all carbon offsets are directed towards to certified socio-environmental projects that promote not only reforestation and environmental conservation, but also the strengthening of the economy and the local communities directly benefited by these projects.

It may seem complicated, but Reflora is here to help companies walk this new path. It is important to say that within the cosmetics and beauty industry, we already see an initiative of brands and companies to make their products more sustainable.

In early 2022, for example, 36 major companies in the sector came together to launch the EcoBeautyScore, an initiative that enables consumers to make more sustainable choices of cosmetics and personal care products through an environmental impact assessment and scoring system.

Also is growing the number of brands that are already launching products with their carbon neutral emissions, when production does not add new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

The path for the planet to reach environmental balance is still long, but acts like these are the beginning for us to reduce climate impacts and make the world more sustainable.

If you want to learn more about the subject and find out how you can contribute to achieving these goals, follow Reflora on social media. We are on LinkedIn, Instagram and you can also subscribe to our newsletter.

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