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What does Ethical Beauty really mean?

by Selina Mithen |

Given the current world climate there are few more emotive issues now than sustainability, eco-responsibility and ethics around product development.

Most people inherently want to do the right thing for the planet and its citizens, however, the truth can be tough for us to listen to.

As a brand that is committed to sustainability and ethical sourcing, we must exercise due diligence on where ingredients are sourced from, how they are sourced, environmental impact and how they are tested. We look for extracts that are derived from sustainable sources such as live plant cell cultures which is becoming more mainstream.

Green chemistry and biotech methods such as plant tissue culturing techniques have allowed live plant cells to be harvested in order to capture the active compounds in plants. This is good news for the cosmetic industry and the environment.

We have to be more conscious than ever about the wise use of land resources and this technique allows for continuous extraction from live plants in a controlled environment without the destruction of the plant meaning no need for high amounts of water and agricultural land space.

Eco-responsibility means that not only the environment needs to be considered but also the impact on native wildlife.

Palm oil has been the subject of unethical sourcing for quite a while now, and ingredients suppliers have largely been cooperative with utilising only RSPO certified palm, so natural habitats for orangutans or other species are not destroyed.

What does RSPO stand for and what does this mean for ethical sourcing? (RSPO – Round table of Sustainable Palm Oil).

There are specific criteria that must be met to be certified RSPO, these are: fair working conditions, protection of local lands and rights, prevention of clearing forests, protection of wildlife that inhabit plantations, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

Some would argue that palm is still a very sustainable crop if it is farmed properly (and is RSPO certified)  as it has a high yield per land space compared to other crops that take up much more valuable land, for example:

One hectare of land can produce just 0.38 tons of soybean oil, 0.48 tons of sunflower oil, and 0.67 tons of rapeseed oil, that same hectare can produce more than 3.7 tons of palm oil per year.

Ethics can bring into focus the treatment of the environment, animals (for example not supporting animal testing), as well as communities impacted by sourcing of ingredients.

Ethical sourcing of ingredients is one of the final points to be made here. It is no good to promote a brand as wholistic and natural when the raw materials come from exploitation of children or economically vulnerable communities.

Some examples of trending cosmetic ingredients that are beginning to come on the radar for the terrible violations of human rights when sourced, are Gemstones or crystals and Mica.

Crystals are everywhere at the moment, for example the popular Gua Sha crystal rollers, however, many consumers aren’t aware of the exploitation that has occurred in order to produce these in regions such as Madagascar and the Congo. Crystals are extremely difficult to trace sourcing to and there are not regulations in place for mining them.

Mica, which provides the glitter or iridescent effect in cosmetics is often mined by children in India. There are now some companies that source Mica ethically, and maybe it is the time for brands to show complete transparency of their supply chain to support fair trade companies.

At Genus we always investigate the supply chain of our raw materials and stay committed to sustainable, social and eco-responsible methods of sourcing.

For more reading on Gemstone mining and Mica follow links below:

Ethical Beauty Blog

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