Sustainability in The Beauty Industry

One of the largest industries in the world is beauty and beauty-related products. The demand for beauty products has been rising for many years now and there is no slowing down. But the problem with beauty products is that they do not last forever. After their use, it gets thrown away because it is hard to reuse beauty products for other purposes. So with the rise of the industry, the issue of sustainability in the beauty industry also comes to mind.

Sustainability plays a massive decider for everybody now. And in the beauty industry, many factors make it unsustainable. Ranging from the products and packaging to the waste, all are now being questioned how the beauty industry impacts the environment. With recent awareness of sustainability, the beauty industry is also changing. But is the change helping the environment or is it just a rebranding?

Key Takeaways

  • A look at the environmental impact of the beauty industry, ranging from wastewater to animal cruelty.
  • With a sustainable approach, the current beauty industry is undergoing changes to becoming eco-friendly in all aspects.
  • Shoppers look for both sustainability and consistency with beauty products, which has a positive impact on the environment.

Environmental Impact on the Beauty Industry

While the beauty industry is evolving and many brands are changing their formulas, the question remains, why are these brands charging for cleaning? There are several reasons, and the main reason is consumer demand. The beauty industry, like many other industries, plays a huge role when it comes to harming the environment.

With government restrictions and peer pressure, they are turning toward a sustainable path. The environmental impact of the beauty industry has always been negative. And here we are including some:

1. Wastewater


Water is the most commonly used solvent in the beauty industry. Water is almost available everywhere, and thus water usage was not restricted. But over time, tons and tons of water were used. The agriculture industry might be leading the way in water consumption, but the beauty industry is not far behind. Massive consumption of water has to be one of the drawbacks of the industry, and now people are demanding an alternative.

2. Packaging


From packaging material to overall containers, consumers are now judging everything. When you look at luxury brands, you can quickly see how elaborate their packaging is. First, there’s a container, and then there’s a wrapper over it. And lastly, there is an overall package. And most of the skin care would come in plastic bottles. With these packages, the brands ask them to put them through recycling, but that is a hassle. And again, whether the containers are recycled or not is something to consider. Refillable packaging is rare in the beauty industry.

3. Ingredients


The following important part of the beauty industry is mainly related to the ingredients that are used. Most people are looking forward to a non-toxic approach with all the plant-based products. And they also want instant results. The quality and sourcing of the ingredients will often play a crucial role. So many different brands have failed to do so because they used emulsifiers, thickeners, preservatives, and pigments from animal sources or even at the cost of the environment. Sourcing policies are often not restricted in many regions, and thus the beauty industry can participate in such work.

4. Wasting energy

Wasting energy

Water and soil are crucial parts of the environment. The machines and chemicals used in the beauty industry are often suspected of dumping waste and toxic gases into the air. All of these will harm the environment as they get into the system. They will also have an impact on more significant concerns like climate change. Cancer is becoming more common in the population as a result of this.

5. Microplastic pollution

Microplastic pollution

These are not the plastics used on the packaging but rather the products that would stay on the product itself. The simplest example would be the beads in a physical exfoliator, and these will add to the global plastic problem when you wash them down the drain.

6. Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty

Though this is not done for all of the brands, these are some of the most gruesome thoughts about the beauty industry. Several brands would test the products on animals to prove they were environmentally safe. These animals would go through a tremendous amount of cruelty to prove a point. In the United States, cruelty-free products are mostly covered.

How Does Sustainability Work in The Current Beauty Industry?

How does sustainability work in the current beauty industry

When we say that the brands are making an approach toward sustainability, a lot of them are trying to change their image to be more eco-friendly beauty brand. For example, Kylie Cosmetics recently relaunched its entire brand wanting to make the brand clean. But the formula of the old ones worked better, and thus they went back to lashes. So even when you change the line, you still have to maintain the quality. And here, we include the points that certain brands have taken for the sake of the environment:

1. Better formulas

Instead of all the chemical-based products, many of the brands are taking an approach with natural ingredients. They use natural oils from plants, preservatives, and colors. The green cosmetic formulation is taking a turn, and the brands keep the formulas sustainable. Brands in the USA are trying to avoid any outsourcing, and even the marketing team is acting on a sustainable agenda. The formulas are often kept simple, and only a few ingredients with high percentages are implanted. With a newer formula, companies are trying to be more sustainable in production to reduce the impact on the environment.

2. Sustainable packaging

Instead of plastic, many brands are going for paper packaging. For example, “The Balm” is a sustainable brand with the intention of using paper packaging with an 80s aesthetic. Even the lotions and mascara tubes are to be used with sustainable plastic packaging. For luxury brands, refillable plastic packaging has been popular, and Fenty Beauty is one of the brands that is a true vocalist for this sustainable option. Biodegradable packaging has also been on the verge of rising to alternate plastic.

3. Updating company policies

Another option that would play a key role in sustainability would be to update the company’s rules. A company might start with corporate morals but should turn to sustainable morals and follow the production codes. Different policies, like the Microbe-Free Waters Act, have been on the go for quite a while now. And thus, it is encouraged for brands to look forward to other alternatives, and something more plant-based would be the best way. Adopting green and sustainable options is enabled.

4. By-product beauty movement

While beauty products are not really reusable, by-products from other industries might be! These movements ask that the brands use by-products and extracts from different plants. Agronomical wastes and even dairy waste would be best utilized in beauty products. These can make beauty products inexpensive and sustainable while also creating diversity in the overall production system.

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Sustainability for Beauty Shoppers

Sustainability for beauty shoppers

Many beauty shoppers are explaining and exclaiming that they want the brands to go for sustainable options. They want the brands to rebrand their old ways and adapt to the new demands. But what does sustainability mean to beauty shoppers around the world? Sustainability is not just about vegan and cruelty-free products. In short, sustainability in the beauty industry refers to the following:

  • No impact on nature
  • No animal-based ingredients or packaging
  • Well treated field level labor
  • Good impact on the environment
  • Reusable packaging
  • The high moral value of the brand
  • No harsh chemicals

These are just some of the critical facts that would play a role in the beauty industry when the word “sustainability” is attached to them. There are only a few brands on the market with such claims. Finding the balance between sustainability and consistency in products is rather difficult, especially working with new formulas and regulations.


1. Why is sustainability important in the beauty industry?

The beauty industry has a lot of impact from all the sustainability terms as they allow green and clean products and help reduce the environmental turmoils.

2. What is the biggest problem for the beauty industry?

The biggest problem for the beauty industry is that it is having a harmful impact on the environment and causing different types of waste.

Final Thoughts

Sustainability plays a huge role in everything. Even when you are choosing lip oil, you want the product to be vegan, organic, and cruelty-free. Also, other “free” tags are included in the packaging. Even though a brand claims a sustainable approach, there are still some facts that they can’t prove. This the question about how much the brand is sustainable would pop up in mind. Still, some indie and small brands are trying to flock out and would put a 100% clean and sustainable tag. These brands can be supported as they do not act like money-hungry conglomerates. So small businesses that have a unique and sustainable approach with a proven report could be valuable and helpful.

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Todd Smith is a trained ecologist with five years of experience in environmental conservation and sustainability. He has a deep passion for promoting sustainable practices and has developed a thorough understanding of the natural world and its complex interconnections.