The Common Skincare Ingredients That Aren't As Sustainable As You Think
Ever since we began working towards eco-friendly beauty, we learned that organic ingredients trump their synthetic counterparts, both for us, and the planet we live in.
If you’re working towards greater eco-friendly beauty routines, you need to learn some things about sustainability, and how it affects your beauty decisions.
What Is Sustainability?
Sustainability signifies catering to our needs at the moment without sacrificing the ability of those who come after us to cater to their needs. Sustainability doesn’t only cover natural resources and environmentalism, but also the economic and social resources available to us.
When working towards sustainability, we also need to concern ourselves with economic development and social equity.
Palm Oil Deforestation
According to Dr. Emma Keller, who is heading food commodities at the World Wide Fund for Nature, unsustainable palm oil continues to destroy and decimate the environment.
Keller blames the lack of sustainability in handling palm oil for greenhouse gas emissions, massive deforestation, loss of habitat, and overall climate change.
With the continued awareness of the damage caused by industrial palm oil farming in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, many brands have sworn off using palm oil. Many companies are also venturing into ethical sourcing and production of palm oil.
The challenge facing companies is confirming whether their source of palm oil is as ethical as the sources claim.
Over 300 cosmetic ingredients contain silicones or other ingredients made from silicones. One way to recognize a cosmetic ingredient that is silicone-based is inscription “INCI” at the end of the ingredient title on the package. You might also find terms like ‘siloxane’ or ‘cone’ alongside the product names.
Silicones are often used for products because they are on the affordable end and because they are inactive and don’t react with other elements. They serve as emollients, by softening the skin surface and keeping it smooth on the touch. They also serve as emulsifiers when they hold other cosmetic substances together.
For several decades, people have continued to debate about the dangerous impacts of silicone, including bioaccumulation, which affects our wildlife and water supply.
There’s argument that silicone can clog the pores and pose other health risks, although there is no scientific backing for these claims. However, silicones don't provide any tangible benefits to the skin and don't contribute to the long-term health and improvement of your skin. Due to their inert nature, they cannot offer the same nourishment that plant oils and all their nutrients add to the skin.
Microplastics are tiny particles of plastic found in marine environments like waterways and oceans. Many of such microplastics were originally large plastic pieces, such as car tires, plastic containers and packaging, and other synthetic materials. However, they break down over time and end up as tiny pieces that are typically 5 mm or less in diameter. These pieces remain in shape and don’t melt in water.
There are two kinds of microplastics. The plastics originally produced as particles are called primary microplastics. The plastics that were once large litters are called secondary microplastics.
Plastic microbeads are primary microplastics developed as ingredients for several purposes, including paints, industrial boat cleaners, and rinse-off products for personal care.
Due to growing concerns over the presence of microbeads in personal care products, the industry phased them out and supported the Microbead-Free Waters Act effective July 1, 2017, which banned the use of microbeads.
Although most of our products are now free from ingredients like microplastic litter, we need to support environmental groups and work towards finding real, lasting solutions to the presence of plastic debris in the marine environment for our sake and the sake of the world around us.
How to Make Better Beauty Choices
Everyone interested in fighting and correcting the environmental damage we have suffered in the past years must embrace sustainability; both companies and customers alike.
With current realities, it is hard to tell whether or not a company is employing sustainable methods just by looking at a product label. While we cannot tell for sure, we can ask the necessary questions, as we hope that companies will become more transparent about their means of sourcing and making products.
Until we can achieve such a situation, you can seek answers from the retailers and brands you patronize.
As we continue in the ‘clean beauty’ campaign, we need to draw attention to this area and boost education.
If you care enough about sustainability, you won’t stop asking pertinent questions about the supply chain, even if you won’t get truthful and honest answers all the time.
However, we will continue to look forward to a time when we will have a more transparent insight into how ingredients and products are grown, harvested, or produced across the industry.
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