How many times have you heard of sustainability in cosmetics? or sustainable cosmetics in the last six months or so? to me it has become a buzz word, I thought it is time to write about it to understand not only how to apply the sustainability definition in cosmetic development, but also to look at its essence or aim.
What is sustainability?
To me it is a new mindset that makes us think long term in cosmetic product development. It is not an exact science, even if science plays a major role in it. It is actually a combination of imagination and science where we evaluate the long term environmental impact of whatever cosmetic product we are formulating. Before its production, during its production and its lifecycle once it is released in the environment.
Given the broad approach to sustainability, there are different ways to go about it:
- ethical sourcing of natural raw materials
- cosmetic production (energy and water consumption, waste management)
- packaging (compostable, biodegradable, recyclable)
- biodegradability of the finished product
Given the fact that we are still at the early stages of sustainability implementation, going for a complete approach to sustainability, covering all the four areas above is within reach mainly for smaller companies. So when we come across a beauty product in sustainable packaging, containing non biodegradable cosmetic ingredients such as silicones, can we still call it sustainable? how sustainable is it? Personally if I had to choose between green packaging and green cosmetic formulations that are biodegradable, I would go for the latter. Even if non recyclable packaging is a major environmental issue, somehow it is easier to handle than invisible liquid plastic that ends up in the drains and water systems for future generations to handle.
In my opinion going for biodegradable cosmetic formulations is a key parameter for valuable sustainability. What is your key parameter for sustainability?