What’s a Sustainable Ingredient?

Sustainable ingredients are natural ingredients that are raw and renewable.  Also can include oleochemicals.

Oleochemicals are biologically-based chemicals derived from renewable plant and bacteria sources.


What are Sustainable Business Practices?

Sustainable business practices include ensuring ingredients are harvested in a sustainable, renewable way, making sure all employees worldwide are receiving fair wages and fair treatment, and ensuring all fair trade standards are met. 

Why are Sustainable Ingredients and Practices Important?

Non-sustainable ingredients and business practices negatively impact the environment on a regular basis.  Deforestation, habitat destruction, as well as species endangerment and extinction can result from these non-sustainable practices.  Non-sustainable ingredients and businesses are cheaper to go with, but the long-term results are devastating. Take for example non-sustainable harvesting of palm oil, it’s resulted in significant amounts of deforestation, impacting the habitat of the orangutan and having significant affects on the remaining population of the already endangered species. Deforestation is not required to produce palm oil, using specialty cutting tools the source of palm oil (the palm fruit) can be harvested without damage to the tree, allowing for more fruits to grow more quickly and with no deforestation. When trees do need to be removed in sustainable harvesting it is for the health of the other trees, and usually another tree is planted somewhere else. Companies are not required to list their ingredient sources or whether or not they are using sustainable practices.  There are no protections in place to ensure businesses use sustainable practices. 

What Can You Do?

You may think “I’ll just boycott {ingredient}! That will stop deforestation!” Boycotting is not always the right way to go, when you boycott an ingredient a replacement ingredient must be found.  In the case of palm oil, you could use sunflower oil as the replacement.  However, it takes many more sunflowers to create the same amount of oil.  This results in more sunflowers needing to die and a whole new can of environmental worms.  What can you do instead? You can educate yourself, learn where your ingredients are coming from, learn about safe synthetic alternatives to non-sustainable ingredients.  Know what the ingredients are in your products, and know what products to avoid.  Avoid petrochemicals and petroleum based products because of both their non-sustainability and emissions.   Show your support for the proposed bills that protect the environment, look for petitions to sign, groups to join, call your senator, call the White House, demand changes. Put your money where your mouth is and buy from bands that use sustainable business practices.   Be a proactive part of the change, be heard.  Demand transparency in your beauty products. 

Companies that use Sustainable Business Practices:

  • L’oreal Paris and their Brands:
    • Giorgio Armani
    • Urban Decay
    • It Cosmetics
    • NYX Cosmetics

…and more

  • Love, Beauty and Planet
  • Unilever and their Brands
  • Lush
  • The Body Shop
  • Estee Lauder and their Brands:
    • Too Faced
    • Bobbi Brown
    • Clinique
    • A.C.

…and more

Read More/Sources:

Vogue: The Palm Oil Effect: https://www.vogue.com/projects/13535833/palm-oil-controversy-beauty-products-ingredient-sourcing-deforestation-climate-change/

The Guardian: The Eco Guide to Clean Beauty: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/31/the-eco-guide-to-clean-beauty

99 Designs: Eco Friendly Brands Saving the World:


BBC: Unmasked: Makeup’s Big Secret (Short Documentary, Really Good)


Copyright © 2019 Caitlin McNeese