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Home > Mumbai Guide News > Things To Do News > Article > Experts share tips on how to ascertain if your beauty products are eco conscious

Experts share tips on how to ascertain if your beauty products are eco-conscious

Updated on: 05 November,2021 10:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Anindita Paul | anindita.paul@mid-day.com

The beauty biz is booming, but so is its impact on the environment. Here’s how to clean up your beauty closet

Experts share tips on how to ascertain if your beauty products are eco-conscious

Photo for representational purpose

Blame it on the sudden emergence of beauty platforms or the growing popularity of self-styled beauty and make-up gurus if you will, but there’s no denying that the cosmetics market in India is bigger than ever before. As per a September 2021 report, the market size of this industry is anticipated to grow from $11 billion in 2017 to nearly $30 billion by 2025. With this surge come concerns about the environmental impact of the products that are a part of our skincare and makeup arsenals. “From the ingredients used in beauty products, the manner in which they are sourced, to the packaging of these products, there’s a lot that goes into determining a product’s environmental impact,” says Dr Simi Sugathan, a cosmetic product risk assessor, founder of  Maya, a web-based R&D platform for clean beauty products and Safety Monitor Research Foundation,  which assists consumers in choosing products based on  health and safety standards. 


Reading labels 


“It’s very difficult for most people to read a list of ingredients and conclude whether or not the product is eco-friendly. Eco-friendly products may be of two types — those that involve green chemistry and those made with natural ingredients. What most people don’t realise is that it is the level of processing that an ingredient goes through, which determines whether it can be classified as natural or synthetic. For instance, if the juice extracted from a pineapple goes through minimal processing to extend its shelf-life, it can be called natural. But if the same juice undergoes distillation and is combined with other chemicals to obtain a desired effect, it is no longer natural. Yet, due to a lack of regulation, many brands do get away with mislabelling, to create the impression that the product contains natural substances. This is often the case with coconut-based products,” elaborates Dr Sugathan.


Here, it’s also important to note that just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t mean that it is necessarily more effective or better for your skin, she cautions. In fact, green chemistry, which reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design and manufacture of beauty products, may work better since these formulations have been created with a desired impact in mind. 

Dr Simi Sugathan and Prerna SinghDr Simi Sugathan and Prerna Singh

Double-check 

A good way to ascertain if a brand is eco-friendly is to double-check the veracity of their claims on their website or labelling. “Look for certifications, such as Ecocert, to understand if the ingredients used have been sourced ethically and sustainably, and grown without the use of pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Also focus on whether the brand discusses its manufacturing process and whether their facilities have certified mechanisms to safely discharge effluents and other wastes,” says Dr Sugathan. 

Cut down on waste 

An easy but often overlooked way to minimise the carbon footprint of your beauty products is to only purchase what you need and use each product up before it expires, says Prerna Singh, founder of Pretty As You Please, a portal focused on sustainability. She also recommends seeking out brands that have a system of reusing product empties and those that steer clear of single-use plastics in their packaging. Dr Sugathan also points out the importance of purchasing larger sizes for commonly used products, such as shampoos, lotions and body washes, in reducing packaging-related waste.  

Look out for these known culprits

TariniPeshawaria and Bianca LouzadoTarini Peshawaria and Bianca Louzado

. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are found in many sunscreens and can contribute to coral bleaching. Look for sunscreens that are labelled as reef-safe. 
. Parabens are used in cosmetics as preservatives but are banned in certain countries for the significant damage they cause to marine life, such as dolphins and sea otters.  
. Triclosan, found in shampoos, face washes and toothpastes, can cause long-term damage to aquatic environments.  
. Microbeads in exfoliating face and body washes, as well as many beauty products such as eyeliners and lipsticks, pollute lakes and rivers. Avoid products that contain microabrasives, polypropylene and polyethylene. 
. Synthetic fragrances can slip past wastewater treatment plants and into rivers and oceans, where they reduce the ability of marine organisms to protect themselves from harmful toxins. 
. Silicones used in anti-ageing products, make-up and hair care can contaminate the environment.  
Inputs from Bianca Louzado, founder of Code Beauty  and Tarini Peshawaria, beauty content creator

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