How Beauty Products Are Hurting The Planet

Because this video was just as a joke and I have no idea how to do my makeup, I didn’t include what products I used in it. Right now we are living in Rwanda and so I haven’t been wearing much makeup because of the heat and lack of running water. After we uploaded this video to Youtube we started seeing ads about vegan and cruelty-free makeup products. This got us thinking. I looked into it more and discovered that most of the products that I used in this video are actually both vegan and cruelty-free.

The products I used that are both vegan and cruelty free:

Bare Minerals Original Foundation 

Bare Minerals Warmth All Over

Bareskin complete coverage 

The products that I used that are vegan:

Eco tools eye brush set

E.L.F Intense ink eyeliner

The products that I used that are cruelty free and not vegan:

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade 

Everything else I used had animal products in them or were tested on animals. It’s super trendy right now to show off your vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, but does it really matter? What does this all mean? I started to look into how beauty products and makeup could be hurting the planet and more importantly, the people living on it. Here are some things that I discovered:

Microplastic pollution is a real problem caused by cosmetic products.

Lots of beauty products contain “Microbeads”. These are little  balls (less than 5mm in diameter) made of plastics like polystyrene and polypropylene that don’t decompose for up to 50 years. These little bits of plastic are washed down the drain and are so small that they are not caught in sewage treatment plants. Instead, they pass through and are washed into rivers, oceans and canals causing plastic water pollution that threaten marine biodiversity and the overall health of the world’s oceans.

This has become such a problem that the Microbead-Free Waters Act  was passed by president Obama in 2015. This prohibits the use of non-biodegradable microbeads in beauty products.

This trend in the “natural” product label is increasing the amount of mining and farming, leading to the use of more pesticides and questionable labor practices.

Companies are cashing in on the word “natural”and slapping it on labels of products that have a few natural ingredients but are still full of harmful chemicals. As companies take advantage of this trend they want these ingredients, fast, cheap and in large quantities. Since the demand for natural products has increased, so has the amount of mining and farming. This would be a good thing if it were sustainable companies doing so. However, most of these companies are huge corporations who don’t care about getting these things sustainably which leads to more pesticides being used and questionable labor practices as well.

“When done mindlessly the mining of minerals for natural ingredients and of oil for petroleum based products disrupts ecosystems and depletes non-renewable natural resources. The benefit of buying 100% natural products from a smaller company means that the ingredients are sourced sustainably- doing no damage to our environment.” -Simple Lux Living

Chemicals used in beauty products are causing all kinds of harmful pollution.

“The chemical substances used in makeup and other cosmetics do not break down. They accumulate in the world’s ecosystems, slowly poisoning the planet. When washed down our drains, personal care products get recycled into rivers, lakes, and public water systems.” -Mark Bogut of Green Spirit

Harmful chemicals used is cosmetic products:

  •  P-phenylenediamine
    • Used in lipsticks and hair dye
    • Kills plankton and other aquatic animals
  • BHA and BHT
    • Used in moisturizers and lipsticks
    • Kills fish and shellfish
    • Causes mutations in amphibians
  • Dioxane
    • Used in creamy products like shampoo and bubble bath
    • Kills insects and animal plankton
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
    • Used in nail polish and PVC pipe
    • Kills a variety of aquatic species
    • Causes mutations in amphibians
    • Alters fish behavior and reproductive cycle
    • In large amounts, can decimate entire ecosystems
  • Triclocan
    • Used in deodorant, hand-sanitizers, and laundry detergent
    • Alters biochemistry of amphibians, aquatic plants, and fish
    • Causes mutations in amphibians
    • Alters fish behavior and reproductive cycle
    • In large amounts, can decimate an entire ecosystem
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
    • Used in nearly every personal care product
    • Reacts with nitrates to create nitrosamines (which are highly carcinogenic to animals and humans)
    • Toxic to fish, amphibians, and other aquatic life

Besides all of the ways that these chemicals harm the environment, they’re harming your personal health too. Our skin is like a huge sponge, absorbing 60% of what we put on it. The above chemicals have been linked to cancer, skin dermatitis, ADD, asthma, type II diabetes, birth defects, altered reproductive development, infertility, and other problems.

How to choose beauty products that don’t harm the planet

There are so many other things to consider than just animal products and testing. While those are important and perhaps a personal choice, sometimes even those products are extremely harmful. Here are some more comprehensive things you can do to make healthy choices:

1. Use natural skin exfoliants

An easy method of finding out whether your exfoliant consists of plastic microbeads is by checking it’s list of ingredients and finding if it contains polyethylene or not.

2. Go for eco-friendly and 100% natural cosmetics

Consumer demand has already led to some companies removing harmful chemicals from their products. With responsible purchasing, consumers have the power to stop the pollution caused by cosmetic chemicals.

3. Use products that are packaged in re-useable dispensers and made of recycled materials

4. Avoid products that contain any chemicals that are listed above

5. Make your own beauty products!

These are some of the many things I have been discovering lately about this multi-billion dollar industry. Please leave a comment if you have discovered any truly eco-friendly products!


5 thoughts on “How Beauty Products Are Hurting The Planet

  1. Thanks for posting Sue, I love this! I’ve been a vegan for about a year now due to environmental reasons, and I’m slowly making sure other parts of my lifestyle align with my diet! I haven’t yet tackled beauty/health products, but this will be really helpful!

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