Why the beauty industry must avoid greenwashing

Hadley Co. is thrilled, delighted, excited, honoured – all of it – to share this article written for Gorgeous Nothings. Founded by beauty industry expert, Avigon Belle Paphitis, Gorgeous Nothings is a new platform dedicated to championing and upholding ethical and environmental standards in cosmetics. You can read the full article on Gorgeous Nothings here.

We worked with an incredibly insightful environmental consultant, Mink Ruttanaphon, on this essay about greenwashing in the cosmetics industry. It presents ideas about how everyone working in beauty (from FMCG leaders to comparatively small fry like Hadley Co.) can make meaningful changes to improve our industry’s environmental impact. Here are some key takeaways if you’d like a taste before reading the entire article (it’s long).

What is greenwashing in the beauty industry?

  • Words such as ‘sustainable,’ ‘green,’ and ‘clean’ are frequently misunderstood and misappropriated for marketing purposes. These words are often used in marketing with rigid definitions, which lack nuance.
  • The idea that ‘greener’ innovations in the beauty industry are inherently more sustainable is not necessarily true.
  • Brands may try to persuade consumers otherwise, but there is no ‘better’ or ‘best’ option when it comes to protecting the environment. The only undeniable fact is that creating anything new, in any form, has environmental costs.

Why is greenwashed information so prevalent?

  • Sourcing reliable information on almost any subject is challenging – a consequence of our current world. A possible reason why there’s uncertainty around sustainability statements is that not enough people are asking for better information.
  • Research indicates consumers have doubts and distrust about sustainability claims in the beauty industry.
  • If more influential people in the beauty industry invest time, energy, and resources in seeking a deeper level of information, we might progress toward enhanced transparency.

What can be done to minimise greenwashing in the beauty industry?

  • Brands must examine the four stages of the life cycle stages of a product – raw material extraction, production, use, and end-of-life – and explore measures to reduce environmental impacts.
  • Every beauty brand should aim to operate in an environmentally responsible manner and extend this commitment to their communication.
  • Beyond making more sensible, realistic claims, beauty brands should consider utilising tracing, verification, and certification technology.
Amy Hadley

Amy Hadley is a beauty copywriter with a background in print journalism, digital media, public relations, and eCommerce. As someone contributing to the beauty industry, she encourages her clients to use words creatively, sincerely, and responsibly. This is to promote more honest and thoughtful communication in the beauty industry, and better serve its consumers.

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