In spite of some very convincing greenwashing, many of the larger cosmetic manufacturers don’t have verifiable eco credentials or a long-term corporate responsibility plan.
Last year Unilever’s Indian arm, Hindustan Unilever, was accused of dumping toxic mercury from a now defunct thermometer factory in the forest near Kodaikanal, an act made public by, Kodaikanal Won’t, a youtube video that went viral. Episodes like these, along with an increasing amount of public awareness around carcinogens and toxins in personal care products, are forcing the industry to clean up its act. The most recent industry-wide reform came about when activists campaigned to ban the minute polyethylene microbeads that are found in most big brand face scrubs, toothpastes, body washes and other grooming products.
The small beads may buff away dead skin but the microplastics contaminate our oceans, damage our water supply and upset the delicate balance of marine life. To make matters worse, the microbeads absorb a host of dangerous chemicals, making the debris poisonous for life under the sea. A study completed in 2015 from Environmental Science & Technology revealed that eight trillion microbeads were entering waterways in the United States every day.
A swift ban on microbeads (beatthemicrobead.org) in various countries is a step in the right direction and major corporations are in the process of phasing out the pollutants. In the US, their manufacture will be prohibited by July 2017 but the UK government still hasn’t taken any action, so please sign the online petition.
These sorts of legislation heighten public awareness around ethics, sustainability and eco-awareness – pivotal factors given that the average man uses 6 personal care products per day. In the run up to Earth Day on April 22nd, we round up the brands and products that are leading by example.
Invati Men Nourishing Exfoliating Shampoo by AVEDA; aveda.co.uk
Aveda had an eco-conscious agenda long before it was trendy and over the last ten years it has raised $38 million to support Global Greengrants in providing access to clean water in communities around the world. Their latest men’s launch, a turmeric-powered exfoliating shampoo for thinning hair, relies on wintergreen derived salicylic acid rather than microbeads. To source potent turmeric directly from India, Aveda partnered with Nisarga, an eco-conscious Indian firm that grows Ayurvedic herbs using organic and biodynamic agriculture. In doing so, it also supplied a grant to AWARD (Action for Women and Rural Development) to improve the community’s local water system.
Plant Stem Cell Science Renewal Complex—Target Treatment by INTELLIGENT NUTRIENTS; intelligentnutrients.co.uk
The late founder of Aveda, eco pioneer Horst Rechelbacher, went on to create Intelligent Nutrients (intelligentnutrients.com), a brand with one of the cleanest credentials in the industry. Using food grade ingredients that are pesticide-free, the brand has disrupted the staus quo, educating consumers about how misleading labeling has become in the 21st century. A new biotech process has allowed Intelligent Nurtients to create a topical treatment with highly active plant stem cells that are 1000 times stronger than the antioxidants found in nature. Needless to say, the range does not include petrochemicals, artificial fragrances, unnecessary dyes or harsh ingredients. Horst was a real pioneer and I can highly recommend his book Minding Your Business: Profits That Restore the Planet.
Organic Lemongrass & Lime Shaving Soap by DR. BRONNER; drbronner.co.uk
Even though animal testing has been a hot topic for quite some time now, cruelty-free labeling still isn’t governed by any laws. In other words, a company can claim zero animal testing for a finished formula, but it’s quite possible that other companies further down the supply chain – a raw material manufacturer, for example – may have performed animal testing in order to verify product safety.
The only indicator you can really rely on is the Leaping Bunny logo, as found on Dr. Bronner’s organic products, including the cult Castile Liquid Soaps and this synthetic-free shaving soap. This seal of approval ensures no animals were harmed at any point in the product’s development. Not only are Dr. Bronner’s ingredients organic and fair trade, the packaging is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic too.
All Greens™ Foaming Deep Cleansing Mask by ORIGINS; origins.co.uk
The multitude of plastics involved in packaging a fancy product can make recycling tricky business. Pick up one of Origin’s non-woven polypropylene tote bags for free, fill it to the brim with your empties (from any brand) and drop it off at one of their stores where they’ll take care of recycling. For every tote bag they gift, they’ll plant a tree through their partner, the American Forests Global ReLeaf. And since you’re already in-store it’s worth checking out their new All Greens™ Foaming Deep Cleansing Mask.
Original Face Scrub by BULLDOG SKINCARE; bulldogskincare.com
Leading the way for men in the UK is Bulldog with their line of straightforward vegan and cruelty-free grooming wares. Sustainably sourced natural ingredients include pumice and coconut shell (or oat kernel and olive if you buy the same product in the UK) ,which make a fantastic substitute for tiny plastic microbeads.