Lockdown has been a huge time of reflection for so many of us. Covid-19 has reminded us all that we are part of a wider ecosystem and community. I especially craved nature and green spaces, which I found deeply healing.
The way nature has bounced back in lockdown has been eye opening from the English channel in Portsmouth glistening like the Caribbean to dolphins returning to the unpolluted canals of Venice.
As beauty consumers we can all play a part in protecting the environment. For me the three pillars of sustainability are sustainable recyclable packaging, sustainable ingredients and supporting projects, which heal the Earth.
Jayn Sterland, Managing Director, Weleda UK explains, “We as consumers need to become ‘citizens’ and ask ourselves… Is this healthy for me and for the planet?” One of my favourite products from the brand is their Weleda Lavender Creamy Body Wash, £7.95. The organic lavender is great to soothe the soul and the organic sesame seed oil is deeply hydrating.
Respecting nature has been at the heart of Dr Hauschka for over 50 years. Every year they replace 588 tons of mineral-oil-based and microplastic-infused chemicals with completely biodegradable natural substances. I love their Dr. Hauschka Lip Balm, £10.50 as its skin softening wheat germ oils, fortifying silk and anthyllis melts into my lips.
For me my sense of activism as a teenager in the 90s was awoken by The Body Shop, as they campaigned for fair trade and the end of animal testing. The Body Shop launched Community Fair Trade in 1987, committing to trading fairly with marginalised farmers, traditional artisans and rural cooperatives around the world. Slather on their 100% Natural Shea Butter, £15, it can be used to custom blend hair treatments and body butters, which I love. The shea butter also empowers women as The Body Shop co-founded the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), which benefits 8 million women who are crucial to the industry in Ghana.
Zero waste is also crucial. This has been at the heart of REN and their commitment to use only packaging that’s recycled, recyclable or reusable by 2021. “We need to change our perception of luxury beauty. We hope it will pave the way for others to follow”, says Arnaud Meysselle, CEO of REN Clean Skincare.
Personally, I’m a huge REN fan. If you have sensitive skin, rejoice as the REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream, £36, is soothing and nourishing with blackcurrant seed oil, seabuckthorn oil and camellia oil. The packaging is a new infinity pack, which basically means the plastic pack can be forever recycled in normal waste… (it’s an industry first). They are also part of the new Loop program which is across home, beauty and cleaning products. It’s like the milkman reinvented picking up empties and refilling them. Zero waste, at last!
I’ve also been smearing on Axiology, Balmies in Nude Plum or Cherry, £12 each, which can be used on the eyes, lips or cheeks. They are loaded with plum oil, hemp and elderberry. These little magic sticks are tube free and are wrapped in recycled paper.
L’Occitane has also helped the cause with their Almond Shower Oil Eco-Refill 500ml £28, which leaves skin silky soft and uses 69% to 90% less plastic compared to their regular packaging.
You can also support The Body Shop in their new scheme, where they have purchased and used 250 tonnes of Community Trade recycled plastic and used this in nearly three million 250ml haircare bottles such as the Shea Butter Richly Replenishing Shampoo, £7. The scheme also champions waste pickers’ rights and employment opportunities.
Turning to alternative materials like glass and aluminium packaging is another great way to help the planet. Margo Marrone of The Organic Pharmacy uses glass in 85% of her products like The Organic Pharmacy, Stabilised Vitamin C Serum, £45, which has a concentrated dose of 15% stabilised Vitamin C to target dullness and improve the texture and firmness of the skin.
The British beauty brand BYBI also work with over 80% glass and bioplastic material derived from sugarcane. I love the BYBI Babe Balm, £18, which is packed full of nourishing shea butter and repairing hibiscus oil. I pop it on cuticles, lips, elbows, cuts and anywhere, which needs some hydration and TLC.
The Body Shop’s best selling Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, £11, is rich and purifying and great at removing makeup, even stubborn mascara. Skin-soothing camomile extract from Norfolk has been used for centuries for its calming properties. The aluminium tin also makes it kind to the environment.
When it comes to sustainable ingredients, One Ocean Beauty is really leading the way. Their marine active ingredients are derived from algae, kelp and seaweed and micro organisms are reproduced in the lab through Blue Biotechnology. This allows them to avoid large scale harvesting, which may damage the ocean environment and its biodiversity. This “blue biotech” is found in their whisper light and hydrating Replenishing Deep Sea Moisturiser, £65.
I’ve always been a fan of Neal’s Yard Remedies, a modern day apothecary. I love the new Wild Rose Dry Body Oil, £35, based on the cult Wild Rose Beauty Balm. The wild rosehips used are also sustainably sourced on the hillsides of rural, South Eastern Serbia. The collectors only collect rosehips that grow above 1metre in height and always leave at least 10% of the fruit on the bush.
When it comes to buying beauty with sustainability in mind, it’s best to go large and buy less. “Sustainability is also about buying fewer things, and carefully choosing items that you will love and use again and again.”, explains Cat Beech and Catherine Western co-founders of The Truthbrush, £4.50. The working mums developed Truthbrush after being given a plastic toothbrush whilst staying at an ‘Eco’ hotel. The brush is made from fast growing, organic FSC certified bamboo, 62% castor bean oil and only 38% nylon bristles.
When it comes to thirsty curls and coils, going large is always a good idea. Invest in Boucleme Intensive Moisture Treatment, £40 for 1 Litre. This award winning whopper of a hair mask can also be used as a leave in. Marula oil, mafura butter, camellia oil and softening prickly pear seed oil leaves the hair feeling hydrated and juicy. I also regularly use Trepadora, Babassu Quench Leave In Curl Primer, prices start from £14.50 and this leave in curl cream smells heavenly of tonka bean. Cocoa butter, cranberry seed oil and inca inchi oil also deeply nourish my 4C Coils.
Go large or go home with Bramleys Body Wash 5 Litre Starter pack, £140, it’s expensive but it works out at £7.50 per 250ml, which is a huge saving and you are saving on plastic, too. The body wash is laced with grapefruit, lavender and sweet orange for a refreshing start to the day.
Upcycling can also help when it comes to zero waste. By Sarah, Raspberry Seed Cleansing Oil, £38, has been blended with upcycled raspberry seed oil, which contains 20% more vitamin E to protect your skin. This concept of waste not want not, is also found in Evolve, Radiant Glow Face Mask, £24. This rich and delicious scented mask is fragranced with organic vanilla oil to calm the senses and upcycled blueberry particles to gently buff the skin.
I often have trouble falling asleep. Skin Alchemists, Sweet Dreams Skin Treatment Candle, £38, is a great 3-in-1 product. As it gently heats up, it can be used as a warm massage oil and the lavender and passionflower helps to relax and calm frazzled nerves. The ceramic pot can then be upcycled and used as a super cute milk jug.
When it comes to sustainability as a beauty consumer you can vote with your wallet for change. And if everyone makes a small change it can lead to a huge impact.