Let’s talk about beauty products: you think about the food you put into your body, the thoughts you put into your brain…. but how often do you pause to consider the impact of the products you put onto your skin?
The same rules apply when it comes to climate change. We recycle our papers and plastics diligently. We consume less meat and more almond milk in an attempt to save our planet from deforestation. But many of us don’t stop and think about how our skincare and makeup products also affect the environment.
If climate change wasn’t urgent before, it certainly is now. In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a warning to the world that climate change of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels could have catastrophic effects. As of right now, we’ve reached 1 degree — with 0.5 to go before we feel the consequences of our ways.
And the beauty industry plays a large role in climate change, particularly in the release of toxic greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Everything from the packaging of cosmetics to the chemicals used to produce them can have adverse effects on our environment. As a reader of Lovely & Lazy, you may have noticed that this blog is participating in the Global Climate Strike from September 20-27, 2019 — and the urgency of climate change is just one reason why!
Thankfully, the beauty industry is on board with ending climate change…. mostly. There are still so many brands out there using plastic packaging and toxic chemicals in their products — yet more and more eco-friendly, non-toxic alternatives crop up every day.
If you want to start leading a more eco-conscious lifestyle, here’s how to purge your cabinets of environmentally harmful products — and start switching to healthier, happier alternatives for our planet. I’ll also mention some of my favorite brands and resources for hunting down the best possible eco-friendly beauty products!
Toxic Ingredients to Avoid
As much as I hate the fear-mongering implicit in the word “toxic,” there’s simply no other way to put it: some ingredients are just plain bad for the planet. They leech into our oceans, kill our ecosystems and are produced at the hands of deforestation.
We know exactly where to find some of these ingredients — for example, at our local gas station. Sadly, some of these ingredients also appear in our beauty products. Here are the ones you should watch out for if you’re trying to become more climate-conscious — and why they’re important to avoid.
- Microbeads. Polyethylene microbeads make up those little plastic balls in your exfoliating face wash. One tube of cleanser can contain up to 350,000 of these little guys — which often wind up in our oceans, and in animals’ digestive tracts.
- BHA and BHT. And speaking of our oceans, BHA and BHT are listed as chemicals of potential concern for its toxicity to aquatic organisms. BHA may even lead to genetic mutations in amphibians.
- Synthetic fragrance. Synthetic fragrance is, frankly, scary: under trade laws, manufacturers aren’t required to reveal what ingredients go into making them. What’s more, these ingredients can’t be broken down by wastewater plants, making them toxic to rivers, oceans and aquatic life.
- Chemical sunscreens. Ever heard the phrase ‘reef-safe sunscreen?’ This refers to the fact that mainstream chemical sunscreens — particularly oxybenzone — are toxic to coral, killing reefs in the Caribbean, Hawaii and around the world.
- Silicones. While silicone is derived from a natural ingredient, silica, it undergoes extensive chemical processing before becoming part of the formula of your favorite beauty product.
- Petroleum derivatives. Petroleum is a byproduct of the oil industry, which negatively impacts the environment via leaks, spills and other harmful manufacturing activities. This ingredient appears in beauty products as paraffin wax, mineral oil, PEG, DEA and a number of other pseudonyms.
Natural Beauty Swaps to Try
While working with Organic Spa Magazine, I’ve learned a lot about what mainstream beauty brands are doing wrong — but also what natural beauty brands are doing right! These days, there are so many eco-friendly alternatives out there performing just as well as (if not better than) conventional beauty products.
Natural beauty has become so sophisticated that there’s no excuse to keep supporting brands that are bad for the planet! Here are some of my favorite natural and organic brands fighting climate change, one beauty product at a time.
Mainstream beauty bloggers and natural beauty enthusiasts alike love Tarte for its long-wear formulas and high pigmentation. (I especially love that all of its products are gluten-free, cruelty-free and vegan!) The brand shuns environmentally unfriendly ingredients like mineral oil, parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate in all of its products.
Try: BB Tinted Treatment Primer ($37), for light coverage and broad-spectrum UV protection with reef-safe mineral sunscreen.
Fans of Josie Maran know the brand for its obsession with all-natural argan oil, the superpower beauty ingredient that lies behind most, if not all, of Josie Maran’s products. What you may not know, however, is that the brand boasts a robust social conscience. All of its products support farmers who value eco-friendly, sustainable practices, as well as fair trade ingredients.
Try: Argan Color Stick in Pink Picnic ($22), for lip and cheek color free of mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, PEG and more toxic ingredients.
Coola knows that leading an eco-friendly lifestyle should never mean compromising on suncare. It’s important to protect your skin from cancer-causing UV rays wherever you go — which is why the brand offers organic, reef-safe mineral sunscreen products for a flawless complexion.
Try: Mineral Liplux Organic Tinted Lip Balm Sunscreen in Coral Reef ($18), for a gorgeous lip color with SPF 30, courtesy of reef-safe mineral sunscreen. Apparently, it’s Chrissy Teigen’s favorite — and mine too!
When it comes to skincare, everyone from Padma Lakshmi to Brooke Shields is loving Mad Hippie for its powerful ingredients and non-toxic formulas. As if its commitment to eco-friendly ingredients wasn’t enough already, Mad Hippie donates $1 of every online sale to conservation efforts worldwide!
Try: Vitamin C Serum ($34), for an affordable antioxidant solution that brightens skin without harming the environment.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with scents — which is how I discovered Good Chemistry, Target’s own line of non-toxic, all-natural fragrances. The formulas are made with essential oils and are 100% vegan and paraben-free. Most importantly, they still smell incredible!
Try: Bluebell by Good Chemistry Body Mist ($10), the light, floral, eco-chic body spray you never knew you needed — until now.