Exploring Sustainability In The Beauty Industry? 7 Questions To Ask About Your Favorite Beauty Brands

Responsible sourcing, ethical practices, sustainable packaging…there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to beauty industry sustainability

The demand for “natural,” “sustainable,” and “organic” beauty products has skyrocketed over the past 3 years. Have you felt the push? For many of us, becoming more mindful about our cosmetics has deeply personal roots.

Some of us have taken steps to mindfulness to better stand for values. Our money is a powerful voice for the world we want to live in.

Some are more mindful after becoming aware of how certain ingredients affect our health. And it’s especially important for products applied nearly every day. What’s all in the stuff we’re putting near our eyes, lips, and all over our skin?

Some of us have to be mindful to protect our bodies. Many cosmetic companies sneakily hide ingredients that cause irritation or serious allergies.

But ALL of us want to know that the products we love are produced by companies that treat the earth ethically.

The news is full of scandals and shocking discoveries. It's no wonder that consumers are now doing their own research into companies' claims about how green or ethical they are. 

What are some questions YOU can ask to see how mindful a cosmetics company is?

1. What are their ethical standards for labor? 

No cosmetic magically turns into what it is. And then *poof* –it shows up at your doorstep or in the store. Many hands went into the beauty products you use…and all of them are valuable. Every worker should be treated ethically.

There’s plenty of factors that fall under the umbrella of ethical labor. Appropriate work hours, break times, work conditions, work age requirements are just a few. To truly be mindful of a company, we need to look into all the levels that interact with the product.

Plus, a truly mindful company will NEVER outsource poor practices to another company so that they can call their practices ethical. At Pretty Vulgar, ethical labor practices are a top priority across the board. 

2. What’s their position on animal treatment? 

There’s no excuse for a company to use animal testing. It's not a requirement by law in the US–but it’s not banned.

Animal testing is mainly done to see if a product will harm human skin. But irritation or allergy to a rabbit or a rat does (or lack of it) doesn't mean that it'll do the same thing on human skin. And these animals are also forced to use products in ways that humans don't. It's not uncommon for them to be force-fed product, forced to breathe it in, and forced to have copious amounts of it on their skin for days.

Pretty Vulgar is committed to never using animal testing. We refuse to outsource testing to companies that do.

3. Are their products made close to home? 

If you're in the US, buying cosmetics made in the US is a great way to improve your mindfulness. But why is that?

For one, it's easier for the company to ensure they’re adhering to the national laws and regulations when it’s made in their country. It’s harder to audit work that’s outsourced overseas.

Additionally, when you buy products made in your country, there’s much less distance for the product to travel to get to you. Overseas shipping is an overwhelming problem when it comes to carbon emissions. An estimated 80% of goods are shipped internationally! We’re proud to say that all of Pretty Vulgar products are made right here in the US.

4. Are they using sustainable makeup packaging? 

Personal care products, like cosmetics, can be very difficult to package sustainably. Finding the overlap between tamper-proof and sustainable makeup packaging is nearly impossible. But we still all want the products we buy to be sanitary!

An excellent packaging standard is to use sustainably produced and 100% recyclable paper products, like Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) cardboard. This gold-standard option ensures that the paper product is harvested with ecological responsibility, fair labor practices, and sustainable harvesting.

Packaging materials that can't be recycled in the future can still use previously-recycled material. Post-consumer recycled plastics are a great example. They're not just light for transportation, reducing the fuel burden. They support sanitation, freshness, and usability. Pretty Vulgar uses both PCR plastics and FSC paper to ensure the integrity of your beauty product.

5. What is the company doing to reduce its carbon footprint? 

Sustainably producing cosmetics isn’t the only way a company can leave less of a carbon footprint. Transportation is also a huge factor when it comes to a company's green efforts.

Manufacturing close to home is the start–but smaller and lightweight products packaging also makes a big difference. By reducing this size and weight, more products can be shipped in a smaller vehicle. 

 6. Is the company transparent about its ingredients? 

Consumers have educated themselves more than ever on what’s in the products they buy. Bold marketing dupes aren't working like they used to. Educated consumers know what to look for: parabens, talc, fragrances, and more. For many consumers, mindfulness isn’t just for personal ethical standards. Many people need to adamantly avoid putting themselves at risk with specific irritants

A truly mindful cosmetic company won’t shy away from sharing its product ingredients. Another green flag is when the company is transparent about ingredients that are in a less than 1% concentration.

Pretty Vulgar aims to continue improving our formulas without sacrificing a cosmetic’s feel, look, or longwear. We work to make as many products as possible with a CLEAN Formula. You can check out exactly what ingredients we avoid when a cosmetic achieves this mark.

7. What is the company doing to continue improving beauty industry sustainability? 

Mindfulness is a constant journey. A company should never put in their “green” effort and then call it a day. A mindful cosmetics company commits to improving its ingredient list, packaging, and sustainability efforts whenever it can.

Sustainability in the beauty industry is impacted by the products YOU choose

Today's buyer is not easily fooled. There's lots of education available online. Plenty of communities are willing to dive deep into its company practices, ingredients, and claims.

You're expressing your values with your money–and you’re regularly applying products on the only body you get. Never be afraid to hold a company accountable. And never be afraid to take your values and your health seriously.

You can discover more about our mindful cosmetics journey here. And if your makeup style is a little drama and a lotta personality…check out our Pretty Vulgar cosmetics. Happy Earth Day, babe! ;)

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