While it is super common to see lots of products marketed as vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable, green, and what have you, I don't think the industry has become any more environmentally friendly, and this is why.
If you are a beauty or skincare lover you might be already familiar with the terms: vegan, cruelty-free, sustainable, environmentally friendly, or reusable products, but from what I've seen, we are just creating more beauty garbage.
Why I think sustainable beauty is merely a marketing ploy
It is not my intention to sound like an old lady, but back when I was in my twenties or when I was a teenager, we didn't use to create so much waste. While we encourage living a more sustainable life, the trend is to create more needs, more products, and more single-use products.
Take for example sheet masks, lip masks, or undereye patches, they've become super popular in recent years and most of us have a wide array of masks that we use for 15 minutes and throw them away. What's more, all these products come in their own packing, so you are not only disposing of the product itself but the packaging as well. Much as we'd like to pretend plastic gets recycled, did you know that only 7% of the plastic ever produced in the world has been recycled? Alarming.
The trap of cruelty-free and vegan products
Ok, we all like to pretend that the products we buy are not sourced from animals and that is something I celebrate, but what about their packaging? The beauty industry is one of the biggest plastic offenders in the world, and what's worse, we keep on adding products to our already packed beauty stash.
Beauty brands, celebrity brands, we just keep on creating new lines of products, the heavier their container, the more luxurious we think it is. The more material, the more waste. This is without even considering the carbon footprint of production and transportation of products.
However, as soon as we see them labeled “cruelty-free," “vegan,” or "sustainable,” we are quick to think it is better for the environment and we buy them.
What you could do instead
I believe that it is acceptable to indulge in some sheet mask or underway patch every now and then, just don't make a habit out of it. Using a good quality serum or eye cream does the trick and creates less waste.
Do you really need 10 shades of lipstick? You probably don't. Just as you don't need 10 eyeshadow pallets, powder contour, cream and powder brush, and several shades of highlighter.
Just take a minimalist approach, it will help you declutter your space and it is better for the environment. Plus, it allows you to really put new products to test. What I've been doing for the last 5 years is just getting just one product of each and using it until I run out of it. If I like it enough, it stays in my cabinet, if I feel like trying a new serum, I do so only if I've used up the last one. I can better assess the results and I've significantly reduced the number of products I just two away because they expire.
The bottom line
A beauty product won't be sustainable if the packaging does not get recycled, if it expires in your cabinet, or if it gets moved around the world. Don't let marketing tactics trick you. Downsize, it's better for everyone.