9 Significant Steps for Better Beauty: Advice from Natural Skincare Experts BYBI & Weleda.

 
 

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt already a conscious consumer who strives to select your purchases wisely. There are so many factors to consider it can be an overwhelming and daunting task, and when it comes to the Beauty industry, it’s hard to know where to begin.

I was privileged enough to attend two exceptional skincare events last month and both were highly educational, thought provoking and inspiring. I whipped up to Derbyshire to Weleda’s head office for their Blogger & MUA event for a tour of their awe inspiring gardens, and more recently joined the BYBI ‘Susty Summit’ at their stylish HQ in London.

 
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Discussions at both events broached this issue and I came out buzzing to share their knowledge and advice. It became clear to me how important it is to make the effort to get down to the nitty gritty, so I’ve tried my best to collate the information into 9 significant steps for better beauty; with the aim to help you know what to look out for when you’re next contemplating a new mascara or moisturiser.

1.        Get Hot on Ingredients

2.       Avoid Greenwashing.

3.       Search for Certifications.

4.       Choose Organic.

5.       Choose Sustainable.

6.       Support PSCO Certified Palm Oil

7.       Find Waste Free and Recyclable Products

8.       Consider Ethics & Social Impact

9.       And finally, take a step back.

 

1.       Get Hot on Ingredients

This is the biggie. Understanding what is actually in our products is SO important, but it’s not plain sailing. There can be 30 – 50 ingredients in one single beauty product, and taking the time to check out the INCI list on the product packaging is a time consuming, confusing and boring task.

 TIP: The first few ingredients on the INCI list will be a higher percentage of the total, so start with these at least.

 However, there is some hope on the horizon. At the Weleda event, I was lucky enough to meet the founders of ‘EVRE LAB’. These geniuses are compiling a searchable database of ingredients using technology, scientific evidence and research to help us easily determine what’s in our products. Wowzer. Watch this space!

 

But why is it so important to know what’s going in our products?

Well, although not all chemical ingredients are necessarily bad, there are many which are harmful to our bodies, the environment and the world’s wildlife.  If like me, as a vegan you carefully avoid animal derived ingredients we may unknowingly purchase products which still contain harmful ingredients to us and our planet.

Our skin is the largest organ of our body so every product we use will either sink in to our bodies, or be washed off down our drains and into our water, rivers and oceans.

So which ingredients are good and bad?

This is the tricky part. A good sign is when brands list each ingredient in English alongside its Latin name. This hint of transparency implies that they’re not trying to hide anything. Look for natural ingredients where possible from plants, trees and fruits.

According to BYBI and Weleda there are some big No Nos to look out:

·         SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) is a foaming agent and a skin irritant if used in high concentrations. Although it is safe in low doses, bear in mind that if it is found in each and every one of the products you use on a daily basis, it may tot up. Watch out for other foaming agents and fillers like preservatives too.

·         Although microbeads have been banned in the UK, this only refers to ‘wash off’ products, so we need to remain vigilant, and while you’re at it, avoid other ingredients that don’t biodegrade such as petroleum or other plastics.

·         Disodium EDTA and Oxybenzone is used in sunscreen and is now known to be environmentally toxic.

2.       Avoid Greenwashing.

As more people choose to avoid such ingredients and buy clean, clever industry experts have clocked on and so the market has seen a large increase in ‘greenwashing’ where labels such as ‘natural’ and ‘organicare plastered over products which may in fact be anything but. There are no legal standards for the use of these terms on beauty products, and therefore these labels can be used even though the product contains as little as 5% certified natural or organic ingredients[1], which is obviously very misleading.

 It’s back to the INCI list we go, hunt for those natural ingredients and check the small print for more information.

TIP: Head on over to The Soil Association to sign their petition to encourage brands to #ComeCleanAboutBeauty and stop greenwashing[2].

 

3.       Search for Certifications.

One sure-fire way to find truly better beauty products is to buy only from reputable sources. Keep an eye out for trustworthy high standard certifications who will have put the supplier/brand/product through a rigorous certification process such as:

  • NATRUE (certified Natural, and/or Natural & Organic Ingredients)

  • Soil Association (Organic Ingredients)

  • Leaping Bunny (Cruelty Free).

  • PSCO (Sustainable Palm Oil, more info below)

  • Fairtrade (Supports rights of producers and traders)

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4.       Choose Organic.

Did you know that in just one tablespoon of healthy soil, there are more than seven billon organisms – that’s more than the amount of people on the planet![3] Organic farming uses less pesticides, no artificial colours, preservatives or GM Ingredients and although this is becoming more widely available with regards to our food, it is less considered when it comes to our beauty products[4].

But the methods are the same. If we look after our soil, we will nurture healthy plants, who will in turn nurture us. Let’s cultivate happy plants and invest in organic!

 TIP: Keep an eye out for Soil Association certified organic products, you can find such brands on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory.

 

5. Choose Sustainable.

The beauty industry is guilty of glamorising exotic ingredients which must travel miles before arriving on our doorsteps. Although there are methods of transportation which are better for the environment (e.g. by boat), such ingredients are undoubtedly still less sustainable than those that are local to us. BYBI recommend investing in ingredients which grow locally in abundance, with a short harvesting cycle and where the majority, if not all of the plant can be used.

 

If a brand chooses to source ingredients from further field, investigate how they grow, harvest, manufacture and transport it.

TIP: Keep an out for these goodies from the UK:  Calendula, Hibiscus, Buriti, Lavender, Cucumber, Rosemary, Pumpkin and Chamomile.

 

6.  Support PSCO Certified Palm Oil

Our insatiable need for palm oil, which finds its way into 50% of all food, personal care products and biofuel[5] has caused the mass deforestation and displacement of wildlife and people. Inevitably it has also led to bad practice and poor support for the people who produce it.

 Although it is tempting to ditch Palm Oil products completely, it’s important to consider that huge communities of people rely solely on the trade of palm, and it still remains a more renewable and less taxing product than its closest replacements - Soya and Coconut Oil[6].

Instead, we can choose to support sustainable, RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified Palm Oil which works hard to harvest the ingredient responsibly and shift the industry mind set. 

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7. Find Waste Free and Recyclable Products

Take a second to visualise a fully stocked beauty aisle at your local supermarket or drug store. Now multiply it by the thousands of stores across the country. The globe.

According to BYBI, 70% of the beauty industries packaging is waste. Even worse, in the UK our beauty regimes are responsible for 30-40% of landfill waste.[7]. Shocking, right? Many of us are doing our bit to choose zero waste, plastic free or recyclable products and this should not stop when it come to our beauty products. Support brands who take responsibility for their waste and look for glass, metal and PET plastics which can be recycled locally.

 TIP: Many local council’s do not accept certain tubes/bottles/or plastics at the kerbside but you can arrange for such items to be recycled independently by TerraCycle.

 

 8. Consider Ethics & Social Impact

Does the brand support their suppliers and farmers by offering them a fair wage, regular work, training and education? Do they help to put an infrastructure in place to look after the health and wellbeing of their workers and their families? For example, BYBI’s supplier of Shea Butter supports female communities in West Africa.

 TIP: BYBI recommended requesting to see a copy of a brands Modern Slavery Agreement to determine how committed they are to their workers and ethics.

 

What about closer to home? Does the brand support local charities or reach out to the community?

 

 9. And finally, take a step back.

 Do we actually need all this shit? Healthy bodies produce natural oils and bacteria which clean and protect our skin but these can be easily stripped away by harsh ingredients and constant washing. The natural balance of our pH level can be disrupted, leading us to seek more products to rectify it, when the solution may be to use less and embrace your natural self.

I am guilty of getting swept up with the hype of new and exciting products which promise beautiful, hydrated, wrinkle-free, sexy skin, but 9 times out of 10 I don’t really need it. Or notice much difference.

 

TIP: Stick with products that multi task, both BYBI and Weleda sell Beauty Balms.

 

I appreciate there’s a lot to process here, and it’s a bit of a minefield. And this is by no means all encompassing. It can feel overwhelming and confusing to know where to start, but the more we push brands to be honest and transparent, the easier the choice will be. Support those that pride themselves on these values, who constantly strive for sustainability and question their own processes to make themselves better.  Our choices can make a difference and I hope that this guide helps you to make more informed decisions too.

Thank you to both Weleda and BYBI for opening my eyes to these issues. It feels like we still have a long way to go, the climb will be long and steep, but at least it’s in the right direction.

 If you’d like to know more about Weleda or BYBI’s products, you can find both on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory. Alternatively, scroll on down for some quick facts.

  

BYBI

·         BYBI (By Beauty Insiders) are a relatively new brand, formed in 2017 by independent women Elsie and Dominika.

·         They started out with a keen interest in beauty and skincare but were frustrated by the lack of effective and natural products on the market.

·         This encouraged them to develop their new and exciting stylish skincare products which includes Scrubs, Serums, targeted skin ‘feel’ Boosters and more. All are made in the UK, contain solely natural ingredients and are 100% vegan.

·         Certified by The Vegan Society and The Leaping Bunny, their cheerful, high-performance products are made with strong values at heart: optimise skin’s health whilst striving to reduce their impact on the planet via ingredients, suppliers and packaging.

·         BYBI are making huge efforts to investigate the sustainability of their products, ingredients and supply chain, and have even put together their own method of measuring this via their ‘Green Score’.

·         All of BYBI’s packaging is recyclable.

·         BYBI’s supplier of Shea Butter supports female communities in West Africa.


Weleda

·         Founded in 1921, Weleda are the world’s No.1 producer of certified natural skin and healthcare products.

·         They are owned by a not-for profit organisation to fund work into holistic medical research and education.

·         Certified by NATRUE, their products are 100% natural and around 80% of their plant ingredients are classified organic and of biodynamic quality.

·         They are also one of two beauty brands worldwide to be certified by UEBT (Union for Ethical Biotrade), a non-profit organisation that provides a globally recognised standard for sustainable sourcing and the use of raw materials.

·         Founded by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner and Dutch doctor Ita Wegman and Oskar Schmiedel, a chemist from Germany, the brand is deep rooted in using natural ingredients to support our body’s ability to heal itself and promote its natural vitality.

·         Weleda control their entire supply chain and own eight medicinal gardens across the globe also home to bees and birds; I was thrilled to get the opportunity to take a tour around their British farm in Derbyshire which predominantly grows ingredients for medicinal purposes.

·         Owning the farms enables them to oversee the whole process from seed to production to product. Weleda are proud of their natural and organic formulas and passionate about the wellbeing of their plants and soils too, promoting a biodynamic environment and permaculture cycle.

·         Their collection is HUGE, from skincare, body care, haircare to baby and more. Thanks to their efficacy and popularity, many of Weleda’s formulations remain much the same to this day.

·         Although not all of their products are suitable for vegans (they do use ingredients such as honey, beeswax, goat’s milk, lactose and lanolin), there is a wide range of options to choose from. You can find a list here

·         Weleda’s packaging is all recyclable, although the soft touch tubes may not be accepted by local councils. Instead they need to be returned to Weleda for recycling.

·         Weleda are building a work programme at the moment to take on patients who have been prescribed spending time outdoors amongst nature to aid their mental health and social wellbeing. Thumbs up.

 
 [1] Weleda’s 2019 Catalogue Pg. 7 ‘Pioneers of Responsible Beauty.’
[2] https://www.soilassociation.org/our-campaigns/come-clean-about-beauty/
[3] https://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/2018/june/14/14-things-you-might-not-know-about-soil/
[4] Side note… check out the Teaspoon of Soil Podcast Episode 2. For some interesting insights into Organic Food.
[5] BYBI Susty Summit Slide
[6] BYBI Susty Summit Slide
[7] https://bybi.com/blogs/journal/recycle-right-with-bybi