Sustainable Beauty Products: What They Are, What They Are NOT and Why to Use Them

Sustainable Beauty Products: What They Are, What They Are NOT and Why to Use Them - Terasana

Sustainable beauty – it’s become a common buzzword in the beauty industry these days. But who’s deciding what it means? 

What is sustainable beauty? What is clean beauty? Are they the same? 

And how do you judge whether brands are telling you the truth about their products? 

Consumers are gaining awareness and starting to ask these questions and digging deeper – and thank goodness! Because with greenwashing becoming more and more prevalent, you’ve got to be on your A-game to be sure you’re supporting truly sustainable beauty products!

So let us help you answer these questions and get a better understanding of what sustainable products are and why to incorporate them into your lineup.

What Is Sustainable Beauty and What Does It Actually Mean?

Okay, okay, so let’s start with the basic and biggest question: what is sustainable beauty? Glad you asked – let’s start from the beginning. 

The word sustainable is defined by the dictionary as, “Capable of being sustained: of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.”

Sustainability at its core essentially means making responsible choices with the resources the earth provides us so that we don’t run out or damage our precious planet beyond repair.

As far as sustainability in the beauty industry, this goes much further than just not creating waste with our daily routines. It involves being mindful of how we produce, harvest, and reuse for future generations to maintain and live life in the same ways, with the same resources. It involves using products from companies who prioritize sustainability in every way – from philanthropy and business practices to ingredients and packaging.

Taking all of this into consideration is important because unfortunately, some resources will run out and be gone forever if we aren’t careful.

Sustainable Beauty Should Have Sustainable Ingredients 

Alright, so now that you know what sustainable beauty products are and what they should be, let’s dig into one of those identifiers: sustainable ingredients. 

Since many sustainable beauty products are created with ingredients derived from nature, these brands also stop to consider:

Are the ingredients derived from a natural resource that can easily or quickly be replenished?

If it cannot be easily replenished, how are we protecting and respecting this resource? Or do we have a sustainable alternative that works just as well?

Is the harvesting of these ingredients damaging the earth in the process?

If it is damaging the earth, what alternatives can we come up with that will respect our planet? How can we go the extra mile to be mindful?

Is it destroying or damaging the home of animals living in this particular ecosystem? 

If it is hurting animals we love and want to take care of, how can we find a new resource or invest in keeping these animals protected? 

Are we practicing manufacturing and production in an environmentally-friendly way? 

If not, how can we change and innovate our process to better care for the earth?

Sustainable beauty products value integrity within their ingredients because they want to provide quality products made with ethical choices. Your skin is just as important (and just as delicate) as the earth! Sustainable brands avoid harmful chemicals, carcinogens, and wasteful pollutants, like microbeads in their formulas.

These are all important things to be considered, so remember to ask these questions! 

Sustainable Skincare Packaging Is Key🔑

Sustainable packaging and shipping aim to use little to no plastic. They aim to leave a small (or non-existent) footprint on the environment, and its one of the best ways for beauty products to go green.

Since sustainable skincare and beauty brands are on a mission to make the earth a better, healthier place for everyone, they should be intentional with HOW they produce and ship their products and WHAT they package them in. 

It goes beyond just creating plastic packaging that CAN be recycled – because sadly, many plastics are not recycled.

Here are a few types of sustainable skincare packaging brands can use and you can be on the lookout for: 

  • Easily recyclable materials (glass or aluminum)
  • Post-consumer recycled materials (giving plastic or aluminum a second life)
  • Zero-waste alternatives (products whose packaging creates zero waste at the end of their life cycle and are easily reused)
  • Compostable or reusable packaging (biodegradable or readily available to be repurposed)

Sustainable brands are intentional every step of the way in their packaging, considering how these materials can either decompose or be reused and repurposed. Often they are shipped with carbon-neutral certifications or donations are made to cover the carbon footprint.

If It’s a Clean Beauty Product Is It a Sustainable Beauty Product? 

Not necessarily. 

We know, we know…kind of confusing. So what’s the difference between clean beauty and sustainable beauty? Something pretty big.

Clean beauty promises to deliver safe, chemical-free products that are good for you and good for the planet. Okay we like that, right? 

But for some brands, that’s where the standard ends. Sustainable is the only word that makes any claims to be ethical in its production or practices – unless the label specifically states that. 

Products can be both sustainable and clean, but sometimes they’re only clean. So do your research and make sure your beauty products are made of clean ingredients and practice sustainability.  

Let’s Set Some Standards - Here’s What Sustainable Beauty Is NOT

We’re living in a very unique time where consumers are becoming more aware of how their purchases affect the health of our planet, not just our bodies. As buyers, they’re wanting to do something to help the environment. The support for sustainable brands has skyrocketed in the last few years.  

This is amazing, but it’s also gotten the (truly) sustainable beauty products into a pickle… 

With the prioritization of clean and sustainable products and companies on the rise, many larger brands have started also claiming their products are sustainable. While some of these claims may be true, typically these big brands are stretching the truth a little too far… 

This is called greenwashing. 

Let’s paint a picture of what greenwashing looks like: 

A face wash claims it’s sustainable because its ingredients are ‘derived from nature’ (even though there are no explanations of what that means exactly…) The label is plastered with green leaves and claims about sustainability initiatives. Yet its packaging is completely plastic. 
When you look up the brand at home, you discover it’s tied to a big conglomerate that is being sued for environmental damage and neglect…  

Would you consider this a sustainable beauty product? 

Well, you shouldn’t. 

Many brands have gotten really smart at how they market their products, so you should be on the lookout. They use just the right combination of words to deceive buyers into thinking they’re supporting sustainable practices.

At Terasana, sustainability means more than empty claims and deceptive marketing tactics. Creating a truly sustainable beauty product means responsibly sourcing sustainable ingredients, packaging, AND business practices. We’re proud to be 100% transparent and honest with our sustainability claims.

We believe that for something to be considered a sustainable product, it must be completely sustainable – inside and out, backward and forwards. No exceptions. 

Why You Should Care About Sustainable Beauty

Okay, so why should you care about all of the questions and standards we called out in this blog? Well, besides the massive impact our daily skincare routine can have on the environment, your skin absorbs many things… including what’s out in the environment we’ve created as consumers. 

It’s pretty simple, actually: a cleaner environment = cleaner skin. 

Do your part to save the planet and help preserve the place we call home. You (yes, YOU!) have the power to help shape the future of beauty and skincare. It’s time we all demand and prioritization clean products with clean ingredients, packaging, and philanthropic arms. 

Make sure your purchase is doing good, all around.

Just think of how many beauty products you use on a given day. That’s a lot of containers if we had to guess. That’s why prioritizing sustainable skincare packaging into your daily skincare ritual can go a long way.

How to Incorporate Sustainable Beauty Into Your Routine

Now that you know more about sustainable beauty, let’s clean up your routine! It doesn’t take much, just a few tweaks here and there, and you’ll feel good inside and out. 

Choose the Right Brands

The only way to guarantee that you’re supporting sustainable beauty practices? Support sustainable beauty brands! Do your research, and don’t stop at the surface level. 

Consider the big questions you need to ask yourself every time you use or add products to your routine: 

  • What are the values of the brands you currently use? 
  • Are they loud and proud about their values? 

*(if they’re not, this can be a red flag that they may not be as sustainable as you’re being led to believe…)

  • Do I agree with their values?
  • Do they follow through on their values? How? 

To create a truly sustainable and clean skincare routine, only choose brands that use healthy, sustainable ingredients and packaging. That means your actions are leaving as little impact on the planet as possible (and so is the company – double win!)

This goes for makeup, hair care products (lookin’ at you aerosol hairspray cans), and skincare.

Make Sure the Ingredient List Is Clean 

Read ingredients lists on every product you purchase – especially with your skin! A general rule of thumb is that the fewer ingredients on a label, the more likely they are to be both clean and sustainable. 

That’s why at Terasana our patented Clear + Control formula contains only 3 ingredients: nature-derived Squalane and CBG made from sustainably-sourced Brazilian sugarcane, and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride. 

Easy, clean, sustainable.

Follow Through on Sustainability Practices

Sustainability is more than just a characteristic of a product – it’s a choice. As a supporter of sustainable skincare brands, you’ll need to make sure you’re following through and doing your part. We have to work together to clean up our planet, and it’s our job just as much as it’s theirs. 

Allure did a wonderful job warning of the important, yet powerful choices (and yes, sacrifices) we all need to make to create a cleaner planet: 

“Significant, magnificent change will also require us to turn away from the earth-shattering conveniences to which we've become accustomed, like handy plastic pumps and single-use everything. It will require us to buy with a new consciousness and to embrace a different idea of what makes a beauty product feel revelatory.” 

It’s one thing to buy a sustainable product in beautiful recyclable packaging, and it’s another thing to actually recycle the packaging at the end of its life cycle. The cycle of sustainability is not complete unless we do what’s intended from the beginning – mindfully consuming, reducing, and reusing. 

At some point, the reality is that sustainable skincare falls on you to do your part. Sustainable brands can’t help keep the planet clean if we don’t complete the cycle of sustainable practices. 

Let’s leave our earth better than we found it. For ourselves and for the future generations to come. We all need mother earth around, and we all need her healthy.

While we’ve focused primarily on skincare, let’s not forget the importance of incorporating sustainability into your routine everywhere. you. can. It’s time to fight the greenwashing, it’s time to make caring for the planet and ourselves our top priority.

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