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Australian beauty brands that will make your beauty routine more sustainable
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Australian beauty brands that will make your beauty routine more sustainable

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Clean, cruelty-free, eco-friendly: what you need to know about sustainable beauty and the A-beauty brands kind to your skin and the planet.

The beauty industry is big business. Recent statistics estimate that it will be worth a whopping US$600 billion in 2021. So…

How much waste does the beauty industry produce?

All those skincare, haircare, body care and personal care products need to be contained in some type of packaging, whether it’s a bottle, jar, tub, tube, or any one of the myriad options available to house our shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, cleanser, sunscreen etc. There’s also the packaging used to send the product if it’s an online order or to take it home from a bricks and mortar store. Both beauty product packaging and the surrounding packaging is often made from non-recyclable plastic.

So, what does this mean for the environment? In 2019 Forbes reported that Zero Waste Week pegged the amount of packaging produced globally each year by the beauty industry at “more than 120 billion units”. This huge number in turn reportedly “contributing to the loss of 18 million acres [approximately 7.3 million hectares] of forest” each year, as well as impacting our oceans and marine life with much of this plastic waste ending up not just in landfill but in our oceans too. When you do the beauty packaging maths, it’s a pretty scary set of numbers.

How do beauty products affect the environment?

In addition to the environmental impact of the beauty industry’s non-recyclable plastic packaging, there are also the beauty products themselves. A number of ingredients used in beauty products have been found to harm the environment, with microbeads one such example.

Microbeads are small, plastic particles that are a relatively cheap ingredient often included in rinse-off beauty products like exfoliators. Unfortunately, they don’t dissolve in water, which means when the product containing microbeads is rinsed off, these tiny plastic particles go into our waterways. According to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, these microbeads “have a damaging effect on marine life, the environment and human health… due to their composition, ability to absorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain.”

In Australia, there is a program in place to phase out 100% of microbeads in rinse-off beauty products. And, the other good news is, there are natural, effective exfoliating alternatives that aren’t harmful to the environment such as coffee beans, pumice powder, salt, nutshell powders, sugar, bamboo powder, and jojoba beads. For example, clean A-beauty brand Leif’s body scrub, Caviar Lime Body Scrub, contains finely-milled volcanic pumice stone and bamboo, which are natural, eco-friendly ingredients that effectively exfoliate and polish the skin.

Another example of beauty product ingredients harmful to the environment are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are frequently found in chemical sunscreens and can wash off into the ocean when swimmers wear sunscreen containing these chemicals while swimming. They can also be released into the ocean when washed off during a shower via the drainage system. A 2015 study found oxybenzone caused a host of environmental damage to coral and coral reefs, including bleaching of coral and damaging the DNA of the coral.

Mineral sunscreens that don’t contain these harmful chemicals are the reef-safe option when it comes sun protection.

Try: We Are Feel Good Inc Signature Sunscreen which is free of oxybenzone, free of octinoxate and is housed in 100% recyclable packaging.

What does sustainable beauty mean?

There is no set global standard that defines sustainable beauty, but it generally means a beauty brand or company that manufactures its products and runs its business in such a way as to minimise the impact on the environment.

Sustainable Jungle suggests the following factors point to a beauty brand being sustainable and ethical: products formulated with “ingredients that are cruelty-free, non-toxic, vegan, palm-oil free”, and business practices that include “ethical sourcing, thoughtful packaging, resource and waste management, charitable giving”.

Carbon-neutral delivery and/or reducing the carbon footprint of a brand is another sustainability element that is growing in importance in the beauty industry.

With no set definition around sustainable beauty, a beauty brand doesn’t have to check every single one of these eco credential boxes to make it a valid sustainable and ethical beauty choice to add into your line-up for a cleaner, more sustainable beauty routine.

What is clean beauty?

The term ‘clean beauty’ has been one of the buzz words on the internet and amongst beauty influencers on Instagram and YouTube for a number of years but what does it actually mean? According to Goop, “clean beauty products are made without ingredients shown or suspected to harm human health.”

The Washington Post takes that definition further by adding that “clean does not necessarily mean chemical-free, which is what sets it apart from brands that claim to be ‘natural’.”

What is natural versus organic skincare?

So, what is natural skincare versus organic skincare? Natural skincare covers beauty products containing ingredients sourced from nature, but their formulations may also include synthetic ingredients. However, according to Byrdie, a beauty or personal care product labelled “synthetic free” means that it doesn’t contain any synthetics and is completely formulated with naturally-occurring inputs.

Organic skincare means skincare made with organically farmed ingredients.

Try: Australian beauty brand Arithmos’s trio of skin-loving body oils which are made in micro-batches from plant-based organic botanicals. Good for your skin and the environment.

Which are the best Australian sustainable beauty brands?

Here at The Day Ahead, all our exceptional brands are homegrown Australian beauty brands that check many of the earth-friendly and sustainability credential boxes Sustainable Jungle suggested point to a beauty brand being sustainable, such as recyclable packaging, cruelty-free products, ingredients that are natural, organic and vegan, and charitable and ethical business practices.

In alphabetical order, your sustainable beauty shopping list starts below:

Arithmos: As mentioned above, Arithmos is a clean body care brand featuring a trio of body oils made from plant-based organic botanicals. The products are vegan-friendly, paraben-free and housed in eco-friendly packaging.

Black Blaze: Black Blaze makes beautiful interior fragrances and scented candles that bring the fragrance of the Australian environment into the home. The interior fragrances are vegan-friendly, environmentally-friendly and of course, not tested on animals.

Blondi Beach: Formulated in iconic Bondi Beach, Blondi Beach’s Hair Rescue Oil is a hair essential to nourish dry hair and tame frizz. A friend to the environment, it’s free of sulphates, silicons, parabens and is vegan-friendly.

Bondi Skin Co.: A simple yet effective skincare brand for gents, one of Bondi Skin Co.’s four core values is sustainability. Bondi Skin Co.’s trio of anti-ageing essentials are hand-made, vegan, cruelty-free and packed in sustainable packaging.

Bush Medijina: This beauty brand translates traditional Indigenous native botanical knowledge into modern skincare with products formulated using plant-based ingredients harvested by hand from the Groote Eylandt wetlands.

Cannabella: Organic hemp oil skincare brand Cannabella is a 100% natural and cruelty-free beauty brand that is completely chemical free.

Grown Alchemist: Leading clean A-beauty brand Grown Alchemist creates transformative skincare products that are organic, toxin-free, cruelty-free and vegan.

Hunter Lab: Gender-neutral skincare brand Hunter Lab is crafted with kindness to the skin and the environment by having a chemical-free consciousness. The range is toxin-free, cruelty-free and contains only plant-based ingredients.

Imbibe Living: Glow from the inside out with clean beauty brand Imbibe Living’s range of ingestible and topical beauty products. The brand’s hero supplement, Miracle Collagen, is formulated without any harmful nasties like pesticides, preservatives, or peroxides.

Leif: Harnessing the power of Australian botanicals and essential oils, Leif’s skincare and hair products effectively work to nourish and heal hair and skin without chemical intervention. The products are vegan, cruelty-free and don’t contain sulphates or parabens.

Lovebyt: A clean beauty brand for teeth, Lovebyt is an eco toothpaste range of clean, vegan toothpastes. It’s love at first bite for both the environment and your teeth with Lovebyt!

Ms Brown: Thoughtful, plant-based body and hand beauty brand Ms Brown offers simple, effective products. Ms Brown’s Bergamot Hand Lotion and Hand Wash are palm oil-free and 100% biodegradable.

Mutki Organics: This ethical, mindful skincare brand has a range of products that covers all your skincare needs from cleansing lotions to anti-ageing serums to moisturisers and exfoliators. The brand ensures all products have been independently certified by Vegan Australia that no materials are tested on animals.

Natch Essentials: A natural approach to personal care products, such as natural deodorant, with a focus on natural ingredients (such as shea butter and coconut).

Peggy Sue: A paraben-free skincare, bath and body oils that focuses on self-care for the soul. Peggy Sue is certified organic and strives for sustainability with the brand’s glass printed bottles intended to be re-filled rather than discarded when empty.

Saya: Noosa-based organic, native Australian botanical skin, body and hair brand Saya, is certified organic, cruelty-free, free of pesticide, herbicides and paraben-free.

Theseeke: Two of the six pillars of this small batch skincare brand are chemical-free and sustainability through recycling and waste minimisation. The brand also gives back to the community and the planet by partnering with charity, One Tree Planted.

Three Warriors: A certified organic and toxin-free self-tan brand that also gives back through its support of sustainable charity, Wello Water. A glow that looks good and does good.

We Are Feel Good Inc: Reef-safe sun care that is free of both octinoxate and oxbenzone. This conscious and eco-friendly brand protects the skin from the sun while also looking after the environment.

Wild Herbary: A clean beauty brand making luxurious handmade natural soaps that are crafted with environmentally conscious ingredients and ethical practices. The soaps are palm-oil free and wrapped in 100% recyclable paper.

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