How Ethical Are Your Beauty Brands?
My article in today’s Times investigates the ethical beauty industry. How savvy consumers are calling out unethical brands and why misleading, so-called ‘green-washing’ has the potential to damage beauty brands who are not completely honest about their ethical credentials. It was a real eye-opener writing the feature and it has definitely made me look twice at the products in my beauty cupboard and who the parent companies are behind some of these brands.
According to a new report, around 60% of us would stop using a brand if we knew it to have “unethical practises.” But, defining these unethical practises is tricky. The term itself is very subjective and can range from a company not paying the correct taxes, to animal cruelty, recyclable packaging and sustainable sourcing.
Brands like Bulldog, who launched on their cruelty-free status, have been bought-out by new parent companies who don’t share the same ethical moral stance. Similarly, make-up brand NARS were against animal cruelty…until they decided to enter the Chinese market, which requires any imported cosmetics to be tested on animals. NARS faced a backlash from unhappy fans on social media following its apparent u-turn in principles.
Beauty giants, such as L’Oreal-owned Maybelline, have been accused of “green-washing” and misleading consumers, by claiming to abolish the use microbeads in all cosmetics, but only eliminating them from a few products. So where does this leave the consumer? Pretty confused at the least.
There are calls for industry standardisation, similar to the food industry. This is where any food product labelled ‘organic’ must comply with strict certification rules. But it is hard for ethical brands, as how do you define the term ethical?
Vegan products are one of the biggest trends in skincare at the moment, following on from the food industry, with searches for “vegan beauty” up over 800% online this year, according to Hitwise. Consumers presume vegan means ethical, but a vegan product can contain no animal hair or products but be full of chemicals.
At the moment, it comes down to being informed as a consumer and really knowing the brands you are purchasing. I found The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Skincare Rankings a great resource to really find out the truth behind the company. It breaks down each brand by areas such as animal welfare, environmental, organic, vegetarian..etc. So, you can decide what’s most important.
I also talked to some really beautiful, ethical brands for the article, which has actually inspired me to start another blog..but more of that later!
If you’d like to read the full article, you can view it online here: Savvy Consumers Call Out Unethical Brands, The Times