How the beauty industry is taking the lead on environmental stewardship

More Americans are committing to an environmentally sustainable lifestyle, and beauty consumers want to look good while doing good for the planet. Consumers are educating themselves about the products they use and the environmental effects of certain ingredients, and beauty magazines are quick to highlight which products are best for anyone who wants to “go green.” Yet the move towards sustainable products reflects more than the personal choices of consumers. It reflects a growing movement within the cosmetics industry, as manufacturers adopt environmental stewardship as a core value.

The move toward environmental stewardship in the beauty industry has pushed major companies like L’Oreal, Unilever and Estee Lauder to incorporate more sustainable ingredients and practices. According to O Magazine, these manufacturers are leading the beauty industry through environmental stewardship. Their goals include a more forest-friendly approach to production, achieving carbon neutrality for their plants and distribution centers and investing in biotechnology to create environmentally responsible ingredients.

Customers are demanding more environmental responsibility from the brands they love, Beauty Packaging finds, pushing beauty manufacturers to switch to sustainable packaging after they see the impact their company can have on the planet. Packaging made from recyclable glass or plastic made from corn instead of petroleum, as well as 100 percent recyclable or compostable packaging, are becoming more commonplace.

Salons and spas may have noticed this trend, especially as popular items like exfoliants and haircare products changed formulas in the last few years. In 2016, plastic microbeads were banned from personal care products. As Forbes explains, these miniscule bits of plastic were turning up in rivers, lakes, and oceans—and harming marine life. Recently, women’s magazines have been touting the importance of sulfate-free shampoos for both personal well-being and the environment. Changes like these have influenced the ingredients manufacturers choose as well as the products used and procedures performed at salons.

Salons have long been seeking to go green, committing to sustainability practices on site simply by recycling and educating consumers about ecofriendly products, among other green tactics. Additionally, they are taking part in the broader environmental stewardship of the beauty industry by working with brands that are eco-friendly and sustainable–a trend that is only expected to continue. Becoming educated on products that can effectively meet clients’ needs while protecting the environment will continue to be important for manufacturers, salons and spas as consumers look for sustainable solutions to their beauty needs.

Teri Pereira, Account Manager for Foundation®, a specialty insurance program for domestic cosmetics manufacturers, importers and distributors at Brownyard Group. She can be reached at

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