The beauty industry provides employment, drives economies (in the next three years, it is estimated to grow to $820 billion!) and all that is just so that you can look, and feel gorgeous.
But look past the numbers and shine, and you’ll come face-to-face with its hideous side.
It is an open secret that the industry is responsible for massive amounts of waste and pollution. Consequently, there is an urgent need to take collective responsibility to ensure that the ball does not drop.
But does that mean that our yearning for a bold shade of red needs to be silenced? Not exactly! You can look impeccable without adding stress to the environment. Here’s how!
Put the right things in, and harmful chemicals out
Earlier, we had spoken about how certain synthetic chemicals in your make-up are responsible for acne, allergies, eye irritation and more (read in detail here).
In addition to these chemicals, there are more appalling ingredients lurking in the pretty blue eye shadows and hairsprays. Cochineal beetles, mink oil, pig fat and plastic are just some examples enough for you to keep that make-up away.
Desiree Pereira, the co-founder of Disguise Cosmetics agrees. “The issue is as much about animal health and safety as it is about religious beliefs and lifestyle choices. With these ingredients in our make-up and cosmetics, the beauty industry cedes to become inclusive. It is imperative to check every ingredient before your purchase,” she shares in a conversation with The Better India.
For instance, unless you know that “carmine” means the cosmetic has crushed beetles for colour, you may mistake it for a harmless ingredient.
This was the primary reason why Disguise Cosmetics is cruelty-free. Their lipsticks are not tested on animals and made using only vegan ingredients, so had to give up on a few shade. Still, the founders, who worked as scientists in the beauty industry are content that their products don’t make the environment suffer.
For Sona Sharma, the matter was more personal. A vegetarian, the founder of SoNaturals, always loved buying make-up and beauty products. So, when she decided on starting a venture of her own, rejecting animal by-products was a no-brainer for her.
“I went with ghee for texture and fruits and flowers for colours instead. This reduces the shelf-life of my cosmetics but 24-36 months is still a pretty good deal, I believe,” she says.
The Menace of Packaging Our Beauty Products
According to Vogue’s jaw-dropping statistics, secondary packaging is responsible for the loss of 18 million acres of forest every year. And this is just the cardboard boxes.
If you start taking into account the plastic tubes, jars and covers, you will crumble under the weight of guilt.
“This is why when we started Neev Soaps, we opted for glass packaging wherever possible. This made the application tricky in some cases, like in kajal, but our aim was not to be supremely profitable. It was to target those who want true sustainability in their cosmetics,” says Shikha Jain, an ecopreneur based in Jamshedpur.
In addition to not using plastic packaging, as far as possible, Neev also refrains from using synthetic chemicals in their products.
Shikha mentions that even today, nearly 13 years after she started the label, Neev Soaps is still finding its footing. “But we are getting there. More people are happy to go back to traditions than ever before. For instance, the kajal which we thought would only be purchased by new mothers for their infants is now loved by all age groups, for their personal use,” she adds.
Sona, who could see the plastic bottles forming heaps in wastebaskets, knew from the beginning that her label would cut down their use as much as possible.
“Bamboo and glass are two excellent alternatives to plastic. To cushion the bottles, we use recycled paper and to complete the look, we use jute bags made by rural women in my home state, Madhya Pradesh,” she tells TBI.
Truth be told, plastic is not entirely replaceable. For instance, Desiree, Shikha and Sona have been trying to make the mechanical lipstick tube without plastic, but they haven’t arrived at a scalable, affordable solution yet.
But the point is not to go directly to zero. The journey to sustainability MUST start with a single step because otherwise, it is easy to fall back on eco-harming habits.
If you are someone who loves to glam up before stepping out, give eco-friendly make-up a chance. Who knows, maybe it will suit you better than the chemicals and animal-by product cosmetics you have been using so far.
You may also like: Skip The Chemical Dyes: Some Natural Ways To Keep Your Hair Black
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)