How skincare & cosmetics are damaging our planet

Oh no! Not another depressing article about how everything is f#*ked!

I know what you’re thinking - "What have I done this time??? All I did was go to the toilet, have a shower, apply some skincare, eat breakfast and now you’re telling me another part of the Arctic ice sheet has pealed off!"

Don’t worry, no one is perfect (except my boyfriend, or at least he thinks that's the case), we’re all a work in progress.

If you told me 5 years ago that my skincare and other consumer choices were harming the planet I’d have been fairly clueless as to how.

It wasn’t until I started making my own skincare and became plant based that my consciousness started to expand around all aspects of how my choices were impacting the planet.

I started asking questions -

Where was this made?
What impact has it already had on the planet before reaching me?
What impact will it have after I’m done with it?

These questions, I'm not going to lie, initially make life harder. I could no longer just buy things without thinking. Also it was just depressing when confronted with the magnitude of issues we face.

What seemed like a pain - making ethical and sustainable shopping decisions rather than the usual "can I afford these Gucci sliders?", actually became self empowering. Side note: I've never owned Gucci sliders.

Equally, once I reframed the "Why is it like this?" question to "How can this be done better?" the challenges begun to excite me.

Ok, so what is coming next is a dire list of problems that need to be addressed with the current state of the beauty market.

The good news is that we can personally have an impact on them with some pretty simple changes to what we buy.

How our skincare and cosmetics are harming our planet

- Animal parts

Are still used in a large amount of cosmetics and skincare, many that you wouldn’t even realise are made using animals here are some. All these come with a their increased carbon foot print, deforestation and depletion of sea-life.

- Plastics

The majority of packaging used by cosmetics and skincare companies will take hundreds of years to break down in landfill. We’re literally drowning under a sea of plastics. Many of these plastics don't end up in landfill but find their way into our oceans to further damage marine life.

Not only can this cause death and harm but micro bacteria attach to plastic and create their own eco systems. The plastic then travels with this bacteria and can end up on the other side of the world, contaminating other countries with disease.

Most skincare is not just housed in plastic but also grossly overpackaged.

- Toxic chemicals

Chemicals in cosmetics that are washed down drains ends up in oceans damaging the eco system and causing death to aquatic species. The chemicals in many cosmetics don’t break down and instead build up in our ecosystems.

It’s not just our sea life that suffers. When water evaporates into the atmosphere, it re-accumulates into clouds, then re-liquefies and returns to the earth as rain- contaminating our soils with toxic chemicals.

The main ones to look for particularly when living in a country that has bad regulation like the US can be seen here. Many of these chemicals are proven carcinogens. It’s mind-blowing that we’re rubbing them all over our bodies.

- Palm Oil

We all know about it yet, it’s still happening and contributes to rapid deforestation, climate change and the destruction of the homes of our gorgeous cousins from the past, Orangoutangs.

It just can’t be business as usual. We each can make a difference through our choices and by abandoning companies that don't choose to do better by the planet and all beings that inhabit it.

The power lies with each of us.

So how can you as a conscious consumer make sustainable choices?

- Reduce plastic

Instead of choosing products that are packaged in plastic, look for products that come in re-useable or recyclable packaging like glass.

- Check labels

Look at your product labels, make sure they are free from harmful chemicals, preservatives like parabens and fragrance (the general ‘fragrance’ you read on labels can be anything of up to 4000 different chemicals!).

- Choose quality

By choosing more effective products the need to buy so often and so many products won’t be necessary.

- Choose clean

Clean beauty brands are better for your health and that of our home.

- Dedicated to change

Look for brands committed to packaging their products and sourcing their ingredients in the most ethical and sustainable manner.

The sustainable, clean beauty market is growing by the day. It’s becoming easier than ever to find brands that offer solutions.

We made it! The world isn't f#%ked and we can choose a brighter future with the small decisions we make everyday.