Despite what Kermit said, it’s actually sort of easy being “green.” Thus, more people are actively seeking to make healthier choices. In the same way that we’ve become more concerned about the ingredients we put in our bodies, it makes sense that we pay attention to what we put on our bodies.
As a result of this uptick in consciousness, people have been flocking towards “greener” beauty products. According to the marketing group NPD, the “clean/green” skincare category currently makes up 13 percent of the $19 billion prestige beauty market, having doubled in size in just the last four years. And it’s still growing.
Choosing “green” skincare means buying brands that choose sustainable packaging, responsibly-sourced ingredients, and recognizable botanicals that are good for long-term health.
Unlike “green eating” where it’s obvious that reaching for kale over pizza is considered the healthy choice, trying to navigate what constitutes “green” skincare is slightly murkier territory. Different products tout buzzwords like “green,” “clean,” and “natural,” almost interchangeably. And it’s even trickier because of what a free-for-all the cosmetics industry is.
The United States Congress has not updated laws concerning the regulation of the cosmetics industry since 1938. Because it’s been some 80 years, there hasn’t been a great deal of oversight when it comes to what can be put into beauty products and what claims can be made. Luckily, however, this lack of updated legislature could change with the introduction of the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act of 2019 which is before the House of Representatives and would ensure more rigorous regulation of cosmetic companies. With a focus on ethical manufacturing, ingredient authentication, facility registration, and transparency, the bill has the potential to completely overhaul the beauty industry.
In the meantime, many brands have been making a concerted effort to self-impose stricter guidelines to meet the growing demand for transparency in ingredients and packaging. But, while certain companies are taking strides to offer more natural products, others still use flagrant “greenwashing” techniques in their marketing, making false claims (and getting away with it). This lulls customers into thinking they’re making health-conscious, environmentally-friendly choices, when in fact, they’re not.
Until the beauty industry has been fully regulated, the best way to ensure you’re buying products that are healthy for both you and the environment is by carefully reading labels. Avoid ingredients made from petroleum byproducts like “mineral oil,” “petrolatum” and “paraffin” and, if in doubt, choose products that have a shortlist of ingredients. If you can’t pronounce — let alone identify — an ingredient it’s best to avoid it.
Part of being “greener” in your skincare and cosmetics regime also lies in reusing, repurposing, and recycling your products. Try turning old cream jars into tiny planters or decorative holders; make essential oil diffusers out of perfume bottles, turn product boxes into drawer dividers or use them for gift wrapping. There are plenty of ways to ease into being “green,” one simple action at a time.
By taking the time to look at the ingredients and packaging of your skincare products, you can take easy steps towards greener beauty choices. Give yourself a healthy “green” glow: saving the world never looked so good!