If you’ve already jumped on the green, clean beauty bandwagon, good for you. It means you pay attention to how your skincare products are sourced. You track where your products come from, but do you track where they go? Most probably, they end up in the ocean, somewhere in the dump truck load of plastics that enters the ocean every minute, sullying beaches, hurting wildlife and contaminating our food supply.
What is blue beauty?
Enter blue beauty, whose primary focus is to make our beauty routines more sustainable, for our skin, our health and the health of our planet. The difference between green beauty and blue beauty is blue beauty’s consistent emphasis on ocean longevity.
Here are just a few relevant statistics: 100 million marine animals die each year from plastic waste alone. According to the WWF, “in the US, even though we collect almost 100 percent of the most common type of plastic, polyethylene terephthalate or PET (your standard soda bottle), only about 30 percent is recycled. It gets tossed in the trash, it gets contaminated, or there aren’t recycling systems to handle it. The situation is worse in developing nations, where the global economy has brought a flood of plastic into places without adequate waste management. Best-case scenario: Whatever plastic isn’t recycled goes to a landfill. Worst case: It gets dumped into nature.”
Finally, personal care products contribute over 500 million plastic bottles to landfills and oceans every year.
The basics of blue beauty
Blue beauty, now a global movement, was started by longtime spa director and healthy beauty expert Jeannie Jarnot in 2018 to celebrate beauty brands striving to make the planet better.
She spearheads Project Blue Beauty, a platform designed to connect conscious consumers with beauty brands making the move from ‘green’ to ‘blue.’ Blue beauty brands pay a lot of attention (and funding) to ensuring their products are ocean safe, sustainably sourced and have a minimal carbon footprint. It goes one step beyond green in that it also includes plastic-negative efforts and proactive formulation initiatives regarding water wastage.
Here is a list of blue beauty companies’ best practices, courtesy of Project Blue Beauty:
- They source non-GMO, organic, wild harvested ingredients
- They use minimal outer packaging or biodegradable, up cycled or reusable packaging
- They have become certified carbon-neutral
- They are plastic negative and provide supply chain transparency
- They work with local farmers and suppliers
- They opt for donated or recycled packing material
- They have a customer-facing recycling program and a smart returns donation program
- They invest R&D budget into green technologies and they’re committed to cause-based giving campaigns
- Many of them have achieved a B-Corp certification
What exactly does plastic negative mean?
Plastic negative means that the environmental footprint of making a product is accounted for. The company compensates by removing more plastic from the environment than was used to create the product in the first place.
This is particularly on point for the beauty industry, since beauty products are some of the most difficult to recycle (and one of the categories that is least recycled.) Not only do they contribute to plastic production, but they are also quite directly generating more waste because of the little parts, caps and more in products. (Nordstrom just recently paired with Terracycle to launch a new free program to help the evolution of a zero-waste beauty routine. Collection bins for empties, situated in the beauty are now available at every Nordstrom. The goal is to take back 100 tons of beauty packaging to be recycled by 2025.)
Basically, as a blue beauty consumer you are looking for biodegradable, upcycled and resusable packaging. Refillable beauty products are the gold standard; several brands offer economical refillable options that let you save an extra buck. More common is where the packaging is reusable for another purpose.
Do your best to support brand and retailer initiatives who encourage the return of packaging for recycling purposes and ensure that where packaging is unavoidable, it contains recycled materials to reduce the overall carbon impact.
Instead of reduce reuse recycle, the new emergent mantra is “Rethink, reformulate, refill.”
Formula also counts
Sunscreen is a good example of the impacts of chemicals in skincare. Yes, sunscreen protects you from damaging sun rays, but certain formulations can cause damage to marine life ecosystems. (Hawaii was the first U.S. state to ban sunscreen containing coral-harming chemicals, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate in January 2021.)
Transparency in the supply chain is paramount, so you can see where things are sourced from as well as assess potential impacts. It’s important to trace your consumerism and pick responsibly, as every single choice is one that makes for a healthier (or unhealthier) planet.
Blue beauty brands available at Vitacost
Good Clean Love
Sustainable packaging made of bioplastic, B-Corporation status, a Green America certified business and partners with the Change for Women Collective means Good Clean Love is all about ethical business practices. Bioplastic, mase from sugarcane derivatives, has the potential to lower carbon dioxide emissions, create jobs, diversify our energy sources and help create a healthier, cleaner planet. Compared to gasoline, sugarcane ethanol produces 90% less carbon dioxide on average when breaking down. In fact, sugarcane ethanol has reduced Brazil’s emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 350 million tons since 2003.
Zoe Organics maintains certificates from their suppliers for each ingredient they use, verifying its quality and organic authenticity. They source their raw ingredients from companies with proven sustainable farming techniques and almost all of their ingredients are from renewable resources (plants). In regard to their packaging, the following are some of their eco-conscious choices:
Recyclable glass and plastic
Our outer boxes are made from 100% post-consumer waste
Biodegradable vegetable cellulose bags
Unbleached muslin fabric
No unnecessary extra packaging
In the time of permanent climate crisis, blue beauty is an important initiative to protect and preserve biodiversity. As the lungs of our planet, oceans are inherently resilient but only up to a point. If we make the right kinds of effort, we might be able to reverse some of the damage and prevent the tipping point.