There is a buzz word that often circulates around the green beauty movement.
That term is “eco-friendly”.
For someone to say “we are eco friendly” or “I only use eco friendly skincare products” or “we make eco friendly men’s skincare” is to declare a broad intention that really doesn’t have a clear indication of authenticity.
Unlike being certified organic, or certified cruelty free, the certifications that determine a product to be eco-friendly are vague at best. And without certifications, it’s up to the many eco friendly skin care brands to practice what they preach and to be transparent and truthful about it. We find that the only real way of determining if a company is truly eco friendly is by doing some research, asking a lot of questions, and investigating their track record.
We hope and believe that most consumers who are looking for products that are better for their personal health will eventually become just as concerned about using products that are better for the planet. Or maybe even it’ll happen the other way around. Either way, the decision to use products with negative impact on both the planet and humanity is a great one.
There are many ways to gather information about a brand nowadays. Here are a few areas to start paying attention to when you decide to determine for yourself if a product is truly eco-friendly or not:
1. Mindful Packaging
Packaging is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to the environment. Many eco friendly cosmetic companies are far from eco friendly when it comes to their packaging.
Single-use plastic is one of the biggest contributors to climate issues and there is unfortunately way too much of it involved in most skin care products today. Even PCR (post consumer recycled) plastic is not good. PCR is the result of a limited one-time recycling process - meaning the packaging is made from plastic that has been recycled once but cannot be recycled again. So while you’re giving used packaging a second life (which is a good thing), the reused plastic still has the potential to do environmental harm. We believe that ultimately we as consumers (and brands) need to demand 100% plastic free packaging.
The packaging for most skincare products is a mixed bag of materials that are also not easy to separate. A contributing issue to this is that the supply chain of real sustainable packaging is very small and difficult to find. One reason for this is that biodegradable materials often aren’t stable enough to protect something on the shelf for long periods of time.
In short, packaging is a very complicated predicament that needs change and innovation. So what should we as consumers look out for?
We all love nice looking packaging but are you paying for the quality of the ingredients inside the product? Or the quality of the ingredients outside the product? While packaging can look nice and feel nice, consumers should look twice before being tricked by expensive, wasteful and damaging packaging.
On the flip side of that equation, eco friendly cosmetic brands should be equally as mindful.
Clear glass and metal are two of the most easily recycled and reusable materials so this is what we, at Nucifera, use for our products. We’ve also chosen to be mindful about our box materials so that they’re easily recycled. In full transparency, we do use one small plastic part on one of our products, but we are constantly researching ways to be innovative and will hopefully find a new solution for those soon.
2. All Natural Ingredients
When it comes to establishing an eco friendly skincare routine ingredients are also at the top of the list. Fortunately, many eco friendly skincare brands make up where they fall short (in packaging) with their ingredients.
That being said, there is are still countless products out there who use ingredients that are harmful to both people and the planet. These are the top environmental offenders in skincare.
- Anything petroleum baed - petroleum jelly (exists everywhere)
- Propylene glycol (PG), also a petroleum based product
- Synthetic fragrance
- Micro bead exfoliants that are made of small plastics (major offender)
- Surfactants and detergents (SLS, SLE) that generate toxic chemical byproduct during manufacturing
- Animal byproducts and animal testing (all unsustainable and inhumane)
Every one of these ingredients is not only unhealthy for the planet, but unhealthy for consumers as well. If you do a quick search on any of them you will find plenty of studies, lawsuits, debates, etc. We’ll leave it up to you to determine your own opinion but when it comes to protecting the planet and ourselves, we prefer to play it safe and avoid them altogether.
3. Organic Ingredients
For many smaller brands becoming certified organic isn’t an affordable option, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t source organic or pesticide free ingredients. Eco friendly organic skincare doesn’t necessarily have to be certified - especially if the brand is sourcing organic ingredients when possible, and being mindful of the quality of ingredients they are using.
Organic is good for everyone - the planet included. (It’s what nature intended from the start). Look for brands that are active in supporting organic ingredients even if they’re not certified organic.
4. Cruelty Free / Vegan Products
We believe that earth friendly cosmetics should take into consideration all living beings. If you are harming animals, you are harming the environment - and vice versa. It’s our feeling that you can’t call yourself eco-friendly if you are testing on animals or using animal derived products in your offerings. We believe that eco friendly cosmetics should also (by default) be eco friendly vegan cosmetics.
In an effort to be more sustainable, here has been an uptick in smaller brands using tallow, lard and other animal derived ingredients. And while this is certainly better for the planet than petroleum based ingredients and more - it is also not sustainable or scalable in mass quantities.
An eco friendly vegan skincare routine is the healthiest and most sustainable skin care routine you can choose for yourself and the world around us. The plant world is abundant and full of so many amazing and sustainable options just waiting for us to discover them.
5. Sourcing / Supply Chain
When you are looking at the carbon footprint of a company it’s also worth considering where their supply chain exists. For example, is it local or over seas? While sourcing locally for many companies can (at first) be more expensive - what is the true price when sourcing from over seas?
The biggest tariff when sourcing overseas is the pollution created from the freighting companies. Transportation is number four on the list of biggest climate offenders.
Brands can save themselves shipping costs, tariffs, translation issues, lead times, customs errors and more when sourcing locally. Sourcing locally also brings with it the opportunity to support local economies. The last, and possibly most important benefit, is that companies can lower their overall carbon footprint - which is something more companies (and consumers) need to be doing more seriously.
We hope that all of the above information inspires you to be more conscious in your skincare choices. Eco friendly skin care products are mindful and innovative and there are so many amazing brands out thriving because of it. The demand from consumers for this type of skin care is growing making it easer for everyone to help themselves and the planet.
We believe the best eco friendly products are the ones created by brands who stand behind everything they do. Brands that are meticulous about ingredients, packaging, sourcing and more. It all matters.
As the eco friendly movement continues to grow – we hope companies prioritize quality, transparency and responsibility over keeping up with trends or chasing easy money.
And if we as consumers demand it, they’ll have no choice but to deliver.
At Nucifera, we make multi-purpose vegan products that are 100% cruelty free and responsibly packaged. We obsess over our sourcing and believe we’re one of the best eco friendly products on the market.
But don’t just take our word for it. Our all natural skin care brand wouldn't be anywhere without the amazing support and feedback we get from our community. Here’s a few words from one of our most recent fans. Thank you! We appreciate and love you all!
“If you are looking for a one stop does it all, leaves you glowing, and actually heals your skin from the inside out, this is your one-stop shop. I use it on my body from head to toe, and even as a pomade for perfect beachy wave hair. Works even better than neosporin and eucerin without all the harmful chemicals. This is always a go-to. Family run, and ethical biz also!”
- Lauren P