Sustainable Cosmetics - the Ultimate Guide

Sustainable Cosmetics - the Ultimate Guide

Why Do Sustainable Cosmetics Matter?

We must discuss how we live to talk about sustainable cosmetics. During the pandemic, we have become more sensitive and aware of the impact our product choices and buying decisions have. A sustainable life meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The planet faces many environmental problems, such as climate change, water shortages, and biodiversity loss. To solve these problems, we need to change the way we live. We need to live more sustainably.
Nature photo

Sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is about living in harmony with the planet. It is about using resources in a way that does not damage the environment. And it is about ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live a good life, now and in the future.

Studies have shown that 81% of people polled expect companies to be environmentally conscious regarding their communications and advertising, and 69% indicated that they were doing everything possible to minimize their carbon footprint, up by 10% compared to the previous year.

The three main categories that play a role in cosmetics sustainability we cover in great detail below are:

  • product ingredients
  • product packaging
  • product accessibility

    Sustainable beeswax hand creme by Honey by the Bay

    The picture above is an example of sustainable products offered in sustainable packaging. The beeswax hand cream by Honey by the Bay is created using all-natural beeswax and other organic ingredients, packaged in fully reusable and recyclable glass and bamboo jars.

    Sustainable Cosmetics - Ingredients

    Before picking our favorite elate cosmetic brands or taking a close look at how eco-friendly the packaging of our beauty products is, let's focus on the ingredients.

    Short Ingredient List

    Short ingredient lists are essential for eco-friendly cosmetic products for various reasons. For one, the fewer ingredients a product has, the less impact it has on the environment. Fewer natural resources are used in producing eco-friendly products with short ingredient lists, and fewer chemicals are released into the air and water.
    In addition, short ingredient lists are a sign of quality. A product with fewer ingredients is usually made with higher quality, more natural ingredients. This means that it is better for your skin and the environment. Eco-friendly products with short ingredient lists are also often more affordable than those with long ingredient lists. This is because they require less processing and fewer ingredients, which cuts down on production costs.

    Why organic ingredients in eco products?

    The skin is the body's largest organ, and what we put on it gets absorbed into our bloodstream. So it's important to be conscious of our cosmetic products' ingredients and choose organic ingredients wherever possible.

    Organic ingredients are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides, which can cause skin irritation and other health problems. They're also better for the environment, as they're produced without damaging chemicals and pesticides. Organic cosmetic products tend to be more expensive than conventional products, but they're worth the investment for your health and the environment's health.

    There are many reasons to love locally sourced ingredients in cosmetic products! For one, buying local support businesses in your community is always good. Additionally, local ingredients are often fresher and more potent than those that have been shipped from far away. And last but not least, using local ingredients helps to reduce your carbon footprint.

    Animal testing of cosmetic products is unacceptable for a variety of reasons:

    1. Most importantly, it is cruel to subject animals to tests, including force-feeding, deprivation, and burns, which will cause pain, suffering, or even death.
    2. There are often more reliable and less expensive alternatives to animal testing, such as in vitro methods.
    3. The results of animal tests may not apply to humans, making them of limited value in predicting the safety of cosmetic products.

    What does an eco-friendly natural hand cream contain?

    For a deeper understanding, let's look at a natural hand cream containing all-natural local and organic ingredients.

    • Lavender Beeswax Hand Cream
    • Locally sourced all-natural beeswax from our own apiaries
    • Organic coconut oil
    • Organic olive oil or organic shea butter
    • Organic lavender essential oil
    • Vitamin E

      Safe & Natural Product Ingredients

      • Natural beeswax: secreted by honey bees (European or Western honey bee, apis mellifera); outstanding moisturizer, helps keep the skin hydrated and soft; has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, helps with skin conditions, including eczema and psoriasis, protects the hand from the damaging effects of sun and wind.

        • Organic olive oil: great moisturizer, contains anti-oxidants and vitamins nourishing the skin.
        • Organic coconut oil: moisturizer, contains anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory.
        • Organic shea butter: moisturizing & nourishing properties; anti-inflammatory, helps heal cuts and scrapes.
        • Vitamin E: anti-oxidant, may reduce eczema-induced inflammation, protects against UV rays of the sun.
        • Organic essential oils: essential oil originating from plants grown organically.
        The list above is all edible ingredients. It fits very well the "Don't put on your skin what you wouldn't eat" mantra.

        Ingredients to stay away from

        Importantly, we should be aware of the ingredients we don't want to have in our cosmetics.
        The most frequently used ingredients we don't want in our cosmetics include:
        • Palm oil
          Deforestation to replace forests with palm
        • Polyethylene glycols (PEG)
          polyethylene glycol molecule
        • Byproducts from animals, such as whales
        • BHA & BHT (synthetic anti-oxidants)
        • Formaldehyde
        • Aluminum
        • DBP
        Not quite as bad as the list above, but environmentally conscious buyers should try their best to stay away from the following as well:
        • Methyl & propyl parabens
        • Oxybenzone
        • Dyes and pigments
        • Preservatives

        Eco-friendly Product Packaging

        The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar one, but the excessive waste created from cosmetic packaging can be detrimental to the environment. But there are simple solutions for us to consider: using re-fillable and reusable as well as compostable or bio-degradable packaging! Overall, using environmentally friendly packaging for cosmetics is a great way to reduce waste, save resources, and minimize our carbon footprint.

        Best: Reusing Packaging

        The most environmentally friendly packaging option is reusing the same packaging and using it to refill the product. Best if the packaging is made of sustainable materials, such as glass, metal, or wood, such as bamboo. A great example of this packaging is a glass jar (for example, a jar of honey or hand cream packaged in a glass container) that's recycled and refilled after use (with grandma's favorite jam or homemade balm).

        Recycling of tin cans and containers ranks high as well. Empty tin cans can be cleaned and recycled to produce new tin cans.

        Kiehl's, for example, offers refill packages for many of their products, helping them reduce the carbon footprint they leave behind.

        Good: Recycling and Reusing Packaging

        If recycling or reusing the sustainable packaging of your products is not an option, your second choice should be compostable and bio-degradable packaging options. When packaging is labeled compostable, it often indicates that it is compostable in industrial compost facilities. Biodegradability can mean different things as well. In the famously progressive California, manufacturers can only use this label on their packaging if it bio-degrades within one year.

        A great example of a company with biodegradable packaging is Elate Cosmetics. They use bamboo and other wood as their primary container material. In addition, they also use glass and metal extensively.

        Sustainable product packaging - wooden box

        Avoid: Downcycling Packaging

        The third category of packaging is often labeled as downcycling. Down cycling is the process of reusing materials that would otherwise be considered waste. This can include recycling paper into new paper products or using glass bottles to create new glass products.
        As with any manufacturing process, producing new products from recycled materials requires energy and resources. The benefits of down cycling are that it reduces the demand for virgin materials and the energy required to produce them. However, downcycling also has environmental impacts. Breaking down and reusing materials, such as plastic, can release toxins and pollutants into the air and water. Additionally, downcycling can result in the loss of valuable resources, such as metals and minerals, that are not recovered during the recycling process.

        Accessibility of Beauty Products

        Shaping our world to accommodate differently-abled people has been at the forefront for many of us for quite some time now. The fear of not being able to navigate in our cities, reach items and pay in the grocery store or not knowing when the traffic light turns green is very real for the physically, visually, and otherwise impaired.

        However, we tend to pay less attention to the accessibility of our products.

        In a truly sustainable and inclusive world, cosmetic products must have the differently-abled community in mind as well. There's a lot that consumer products can improve to accommodate those with special needs. For the visually impaired, it's critical to have large print and use high-contrast colors on product packaging. Going one step further, having Braille on the box is another important milestone. Finally, making sure that the product is accessible for single-handed use is critical for those who are temporarily or permanently disabled.

        L'occitane stands out with its Braille labels making its products accessible for the blind.

        Braille packaging by L'occitane

        In Conclusion

        The cosmetics and beauty industry is going through a transition. While companies need to be aware of the different aspects of this evolution, the real change comes from consumers, who drive this change by demanding and expecting it. Paying attention to the ingredients, the packaging, and the accessibility of cosmetics is going to contribute to the sustainability improvements our environment so much needs.

        The all-natural beeswax hand cream by Honey by the Bay checks all the sustainability boxes discussed above. The beeswax originates from small-scale backyard beehives kept under humane conditions. The list of ingredients is very short, and the few other ingredients are all organic. Give it a try; it's super pleasant and does miracles for your dry, damaged, or sensitive skin.

        Back to blog

        Pure, Natural Goodness of
        Honey by the Bay

        As you enjoy the insights from our article, we invite you to experience the natural goodness of Honey by the Bay's products. Our range, which includes pure raw, unfiltered honey, soothing beeswax hand salve, and nourishing lip balm, reflects our commitment to sustainable, treatment-free beekeeping.

        Our bees, flourishing in the peaceful surroundings of Belmont and San Mateo, provide us with honey and beeswax of the highest quality. It's our pleasure to share these gifts with you. Whether you're a honey aficionado, an advocate for natural products, or someone who supports local, sustainable practices, our selection is sure to delight.

        Embrace the sweetness of nature and the care we pour into each jar and tin. Visit our product page to bring the essence of Honey by the Bay into your home.