When it comes to beauty, we don’t just buy skincare and makeup anymore. We buy into how a brand makes us feel and how it transforms us to become the best version of ourselves. However, real beauty isn’t just about physical appearances — real beauty is about who you are on the inside, including your character and morality.
As social media has created more transparency within the beauty industry, consumers are becoming more aware of unethical behavior and practices. Since the veil has been lifted, the beauty industry has started to change for the better, leading to a rise in green and blue beauty, mindful ingredients and ethical leadership.
Conscious beauty means choosing a brand or product that contains good-for-you ingredients while showing us integrity and generosity with how they run their business. This can involve (but is not limited to) sustainable practices, social responsibility, cruelty-free processes and plant-based ingredients.
Jump down to the infographic or read on to learn more about how to become an ethical consumer and incorporate conscious beauty into your everyday routine.
How To Become an Ethical Consumer
When you think of the term “be the change,” volunteering in our communities or voting may be one of the first things that come to mind. However, one of the biggest ways we can impact the world on an everyday basis is by putting our money where our mouth is and being cognizant of where we spend our money. As a consumer, it’s our duty to be conscious of not only the products we buy, but who we buy from.
Simply put, being an ethical consumer means buying products or services that have been produced without harm or exploitation of other humans, animals or the environment. If you are wanting to invest in beauty brands or products that are ethically sourced and produced, here are a few things to consider:
- Read the fine print: It’s great when companies advertise that a certain portion of their proceeds will be donated to a certain charity or organization. Unfortunately, some companies use this as an advertising ploy to bait you and only send a very small portion to those charities. Read the fine print and find out exactly where and how much of your money is going to be donated, and if the company will match those donations with corporate funds.
- Buy fair trade: Fair trade means that whoever is manufacturing the products behind-the-scenes is getting paid a sustainable, living wage. Buying fair trade is always the best option because the more you buy, the more you are helping to nourish a fair, ethical and growing economy.
- Hold brands accountable: The reason why many businesses still proceed with unethical business practices is because they think you don’t care or don’t notice. If we care enough to change our buying habits by doing our research and acting on it through not supporting those brands, businesses will take note.
Only when we become part of a movement of people making similarly positive choices can we start to have a big impact on the world around us.
How Ethical Consumerism Affects Businesses
From a business perspective, switching to a more sustainable and ethical business model is an advantage. The majority of consumers are willing to combat environmental issues through what they purchase. According to this study, 88 percent of participants said they would boycott a brand for irresponsible business actions.
Additionally, the growing economic opportunity of commodity activism presents an opportunity for businesses. Commodity activism is when companies align with a social issue as a means of winning consumers who share the same view point. In fact, 87 percent of consumers in a 2018 study said they would purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.
Notably, Gen Z and millennials are leading the way in ethical consumerism. 62 percent of Gen Z consumers prefer to shop with sustainable brands, and 73 percent of millennials will pay more for sustainable products. So for a business to switch to a more sustainable business model is not only good for the environment, but letting their customers know about it is good for their business.
Sustainable beauty means that the products a brand offers, not only benefits you, but the environment. It’s important to look for brands that offer sustainable ingredients and business practices so we can help both ourselves and our planet.
How To Know a Brand is Sustainable
The best way to tell if a brand is actually sustainable is by doing your research. Some aspects to look out for in a sustainable product are:
- Natural and organic ingredients (like hemp, cotton, coconut oil, etc.)
- Ethical sourcing
- Thoughtful packaging
- Robust waste and resource management
Socially Conscious Beauty
Socially conscious means to be aware of, support and make a difference in social issues that deal with others. This can include a multitude of social issues like gender inequality, racial discrimination, poverty, education and more.
When a beauty brand is socially conscious, it means the company uses their position and resources for more than their own benefits. They operate on a business model that focuses on social change by raising awareness and donating profits through a charity or non-profit organization.
How To Know a Brand is Socially Conscious
When looking for a brand that is socially conscious, you’ll want to research the brand and check out their mission and values. Many companies will be very transparent with what social issues they want to help and raise awareness around.
Like stated before, read the fine print and find out exactly how much they are doing for a certain cause and whether it’s worth investing in their company.
Cruelty-free means that the company doesn’t test their products on animals. It’s a widely known fact that the makeup and beauty industry has historically used animals to test their products on, which is a form of animal cruelty.
How To Know a Brand is Cruelty-Free
Don’t be fooled by claims on a label that state that a product wasn’t tested on animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate “not tested on animals” packaging labels, meaning that companies can put them on their packaging even if the ingredients have been tested on animals.
This is because it’s “required by law,” which means that a third party is required to test the products on animals. So when looking for beauty products, make sure it specifically states “cruelty-free” rather than just “not tested on animals.”
In simple terms, vegan means that a product does not contain any animal ingredients. Vegan products are said to be gentler and safer than regular products, leaving out not only animal by-products, but harmful chemicals, metals, and other adverse substances.
Vegan products are great for those with sensitive skin and for those who suffer from certain diseases like celiac — as most vegan products don’t contain gluten in their ingredients.
How To Know a Brand is Vegan
Products will state they are vegan when their ingredients are free of any kind of animal byproducts. A common misconception is that if a product is vegan, it automatically means it’s cruelty-free as well.
Unfortunately, that is not the case as there are still companies that advertise vegan ingredients, but shockingly still test on animals. So keep that in mind when buying your products.
10 Conscious Beauty Brands Making a Difference
Now that we’ve clarified some ingredients and practices to look out for when shopping for conscious beauty products, we’ve rounded up 10 conscious beauty brands that offer these principles and are officially a Certified B Corporation.
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Overall B Impact Score: 120.3
Natura is a multinational Brazilian cosmetics company that’s conscious about well-being and sustainable practices by cultivating relationships within their communities as well as nature.
Their own plants are located in surrounding areas as well as their industrial complex which enables them to expand production and attract other companies interested in sustainable business development.
2. Zue Botanicals
Overall B Impact Score: 109.8
Zue Botanicals is a clean beauty brand that offers products made with 100% botanical ingredients. They were the first wellness brand to embody the ancestral principles of nature and beauty that was developed by the Paez Tribes of South America.
Their line is suitable for all skin types and is certified vegan and cruelty-free, non-GMO, free from 400+ harmful ingredients and foster environmentally and socially conscious techniques within their business practice.
Overall B Impact Score: 108.8
BAÛBO is a French beauty line that is designed by and for women. They are deemed a feminist and eco-responsible company, with a concern for emancipation and comfort. Their products are made from natural and organic products.
They also developed the first recycled glass jar, made from post-consumer materials, and delivers the beneficial virtues of plants while respecting the environment.
Overall B Impact Score: 99.6
ONEKA products contain plant extracts, some of which come from the company’s family farm that is certified organic and cultivated without chemical pesticide or synthetic fertilizers. Their products are completely free of sulfates, parabens and synthetic ingredients, which makes them safe to use for the entire family.
ONEKA is also a leader in zero waste hair and body care products and is dedicated to making products that respect humans and the environment. As of 2018, by refilling and buying in bulk, ONEKA’s customers were able to reduce plastic waste by 1,700 kilograms.
5. Eluma Beauty, Inc.
Overall B Impact Score: 93.1
Eluma Beauty, Inc. (and their cosmetics line, Elate Cosmetics) is a vegan beauty line that is dedicated to sustainable practices with a mission to make cosmetics that are healthier for you and the planet. They also have a commitment to helping people create their own definition of beauty, regardless of gender identity, age, ethnicity or body type.
Eluma commits up to 2% of sales to charitable causes each year through their Social and Environmental Impact program and are focused on improving the communities in which they live and work.
6. Kester Black
Overall B Impact Score: 90.6
Kester Black is Australia’s leading ethical beauty brand by being the driving force behind sustainability and social justices. They are certified carbon neutral, are vegan and cruelty-free, make sustainable products and donate 2% of all revenues to social causes.
7. Sienna Byron Bay
Overall B Impact Score: 85.5
Sienna Byron Bay is an Australian beauty company that makes luxe, non-toxic nail polish inspired by nature. They offer professional-quality nail polish with beautiful, long-lasting color all while remaining to have a low carbon footprint on the planted with their sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free, ethical, and inclusive practices.
They continue to push and inspire sustainable approaches to the beauty industry. In fact, they were the first Australian nail polish to become glitter and Benzophenone-1 free!
Overall B Impact Score: 84.3
Abhati is a Swiss company created by a group of highly motivated skincare professionals across the globe. The company strives for purity, authenticity and integrity in both their products and how they do business. Social responsibility is central to Abhati’s mission and purpose. They are passionate about empowering girls to be the future agents of change and seek to create honest relationships with their employees, farmers and customers.
As a holistic brand, Abhati recognizes sustainability as both an environmental and social obligation. They aim to make products that are good for the environment, good for its customers and also good for those in need. Purchases of their products support this cause and promote education and health in India and beyond!
Overall B Impact Score: 83.8
Arbonne International, LLC. is a personal care, beauty and wellness product line that is crafted with premium plant-based ingredients. They offer these products through an extensive network of Arbonne Individual Consultants so these individuals can create their own business opportunity rather than selling their products through big corporations.
Arbonne’s healthy living product philosophy and entrepreneurial business opportunity helps individuals and communities flourish. Their core values are empowerment, transparency, and sustainability, all with the idea that everyone can flourish by being good to themselves, their communities and the planet.
10. The Body Shop
Overall B Impact Score: 82.6
When it comes to ethical beauty, The Body Shop has been a leader and change maker within the industry. They have a strong commitment to support a multitude of social and environmental movements and use their presence to raise awareness and advocate for change on issues like human trafficking, domestic violence, climate change, deforestation, whaling and animal testing.
Additionally, The Body Shop was at the forefront of the fair trade movement in the beauty industry and continues to work with suppliers across the world to source natural, high-quality ingredients and packaging through its Community Trade program.
Real beauty is not shallow and far from cruel. That’s why becoming an ethical consumer and buying from conscious beauty brands is so important. Whether you are buying cosmetics, skincare or fragrances, do your part and help the planet by investing in a brand that’s trying to leave a positive mark on the world.