Education, Sustainability, Wellness / Self-Care

PSA: Natural Skincare ingredients aren’t always Sustainable

For those keeping score, greenwashing: 1. us: 0.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jun 30, 2021

In partnership with “clean” practices, the grooming industry has been forcing a major fact on consumers: natural and organic ingredients are better for us and the planet. Although there is some truth to this, this isn’t always the case. In fact, some eco-friendly options are better when they come from a lab. Enter: synthetic ingredients.


Scientists and chemists having been working hard to develop synthetic compounds and green chemistry alternatives to replace the problematic (nearly extinct) natural ingredients. Below we share some of the most common and damaging plants and extracts and what skincare innovators are doing to actually save the planet.


What does Sustainable mean?

And here lies the problem. There are no real regulations or universal definition for the term, and that’s the very reason so many brands misuse it, or create their own definitions for clout and sales.


Some see it as having a renewable source of material, supporting the communities that produce the item, protecting the environment, investing in recyclable materials, and/or not abusing water and other scare resources. In our opinion, sustainability differs from consumer to consumer. It’s about having a hierarchy of values and deciding what is the most important for you and what you’re willing to swallow as a trade-off.


So, why are natural ingredients bad?

It’s not that they’re bad. And it’s certainly not all natural skincare products. But if you think about natural floral fragrances and the amount of roses and organic ingredients it takes to make said product on a large scale, it leads to scarcity every time.


For example, palm oil is natural but only because it is grown on plantations where rainforests have been demolished. Farmers plant rows and rows of palm plants and when they have taken the resource, they burn it all down causing the environment hell to recover and many deaths for species. So although palm oil is natural, it is not sustainable for the environment. It’s all about reading through the lines. To fix all this, scientists have started developing synthetic ingredients in a lab.


Lab-grown practice

Scientists are working to convince people that manipulation isn’t always bad with synthetic ingredients.

Palm Oil Deforestation

There are a few companies working to create a palm-free alternative to palm oil via fermentation. The alternative will mimic palm oil but will be safe and sustainable.

Ingredient Waste

Most skincare products that utilizes plants, take only a portion of the plant, like the root or seed, and leave the rest behind as waste. Brands are now looking to re-purpose that waste into new ingredients through upcycling.


How to make more Sustainable Skincare choices

If you want to avoid the environmental havoc on the planet then we highly suggest pursuing a more eco-friendly lifestyle and decision making. But again, where you choose to draw the line is entirely up to you when it comes to sustainability. And as a warning, vet out brands for greenwashing, or the green marketing tactic brands use, before you buy.

A great way to become more sustainable is to look at your plastic intake.