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Sustainable Beauty: The Credentials to Look For

by Besma Whayeb

Sustainable beauty is on the rise. Alongside fashion and homeware, beauty has undergone a clean makeover, with many independent cosmetics brands choosing to care for animals, use natural ingredients, and stay away from nasty chemicals.

I’ve been on the lookout for kinder beauty products for a few years now, and there’s a few credentials I’ll always trust. Personally, I like products that are animal-friendly, low-impact, and use clean ingredients - and of course, they have to look good on my bathroom shelf!

Here’s a crash course on the credentials to look for in sustainable beauty, and a few of my favourite brands:

1. Cruelty-Free

Bunnies are cute enough without cosmetics. The practice of cosmetic animal testing is rapidly falling out of favour, and is now illegal in the UK, as well as many countries around the world. However, there are certain places that still require it, such as China, so cruelty-free beauty is a good benchmark to look for if you want to be absolutely sure that your beauty products weren’t tested on animals.

Many independent beauty brands are cruelty-free by design, choosing to use safe, clean ingredients and making their products in small batches. You can also look for cruelty-free certifications. There are three key logos to keep an eye out for: the Leaping Bunny for international brands, PETA's Cruelty-Free Mark for USA brands, and the CCF Rabbit for Australian brands. Inika Organic is a great example of a beauty brand that holds all three certifications!

On the Wolf & Badger site, you can also shop by your values and browse cruelty-free beauty that’s been checked for you.

2. Clean Ingredients

Another pillar of sustainable beauty is clean ingredients. With so many brands choosing to use natural bases and botanical blends, it’s worth looking for plant-based and organic beauty ingredients to look after your skin, and the planet too.

By choosing organic beauty, you’re also helping to reduce the amount of pesticides and nasty chemicals that are sprayed on crops, and choosing more natural, non-toxic formulations for your skin. You can easily find organic beauty and wellbeing products by looking for the COSMOS symbol. This stands for Cosmetic Organic Standard, and brings together certifications by organisations in the UK, Germany, France, and Italy. You may also see the EU Green Leaf Organic Symbol or the Soil Association Organic Symbol, which mean the same thing. 

To make things super simple, look for the Mother Earth symbol on Wolf & Badger, which represents products that are made with over 90% plant-based and natural ingredients.

3. Vegan Friendly

Did you know, cruelty-free products aren’t always vegan? I was shocked when I first discovered this too. That’s why it’s important to look for vegan certification (or check Wolf & Badger’s vegan beauty section) alongside cruelty-free items.

Personally, I’m ok with a few animal co-product ingredients, such as honey or beeswax, but it’s a personal choice that goes hand-in-hand with your diet choices too. If you wish to stay on the safe side, look for Vegan Society certification, which applies to beauty and food alike.

4. Inclusive Beauty

Another quality I now look for in beauty is inclusivity. Beauty has often forgotten women of colour, despite their unmistakable influence on the beauty industry. It’s great to support brands that are anti-racist, treating the people in their supply chains with respect, as well as respecting artisanal techniques, and ensuring their products are suitable for different skin tones, hair types, and more.

5. Low Impact Packaging

Finally, it’s worth considering how your beauty products are packaged. As beauty addicts, we are often left to deal with disposing of empties on a regular basis, and so often they go straight to landfill. Well, not anymore!

More and more independent beauty brands are implementing new ways to enjoy their products that also consider circularity. From Maytal’s refill sets, to Little Danube’s 100% recyclable packaging, there are many innovative ways that we can enjoy our lotions and potions without making an impact.

Besma Whayeb is the author of Curiously Conscious, an award-winning sustainable fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog. @besmacc