What you need to know about it

The beauty industry is undoubtedly a dynamic field that is constantly experiencing rapid growth. As of 2021, the market size was at the global beauty and cosmetics industry $380.2 billion and is projected to surpass $465 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 5.5%. Alongside this tremendous growth, the beauty industry has also evolved a lot and continues to evolve. And one of the biggest changes visible in the industry is the increasing focus on sustainability.

The impact: A heavy blow to the environment

Unfortunately, the beauty and personal care industry has long been notorious for its negative impact on our planet. From using ingredients that devastate the precious coral reefs, to testing the products on animals of different species, and of course using non-biodegradable and non-recyclable packaging, the functioning of the industry has had a detrimental impact on the environment and the well-being of mankind .

To put things in perspective, beauty wrap ending up in our oceans and landfills amounts to 120 billion units each year. Much of the packaging also tends to be made out of plastic, which is ubiquitous in the beauty industry. While it’s almost impossible to eliminate all plastic packaging overnight, the fact that most of it isn’t recycled or reused when it can be is disastrous for the environment.

Luckily for almost everyone involved there has been a colossal shift in thinking, approach and consumption for over half a decade. Today, the concept of sustainability is ingrained with consumers, who are moving beyond fancy, Instagrammable bottles, cups and tubes to brands that act responsibly. They analyze a brand’s core philosophies and strategies, and select those that put their customers and the well-being of the planet first.

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Is the sustainable label trustworthy?

As sustainability becomes more of a way of life/operation for brands and consumers and not just a passing fad, the beauty industry is slowly but surely revamping its approach.

However, it is important to note that a significant percentage of brands on the market jump on the sustainability bandwagon for its own sake, without really understanding the essence of it and implementing the concept in a transparent way. One of the main reasons for this “greenwashing”, a concept where products are deceptively marketed as eco-friendly, is convenience – a kind of tactic to attract more consumers. This makes trustworthiness and accountability a concern, particularly from a consumer perspective.

At a time 66% of consumers are willing to pay a higher price for a product that reflects their values, such as eco-friendliness, cruelty-free, etc., it is paramount that brands place transparency at the heart of their strategies and business practices. Misleading labels and greenwashing can have serious legal ramifications that most want to avoid.

Becoming truly sustainable: what can be done

With consumers favoring brands that are transparent, accountable and that care about sustainability rather than greenwashing or misleading consumers, it’s best for beauty industry players to simply change their approach and build trust. Doing this and building a bond between you and your customers will be far more beneficial, especially in the long run.

For one, brands can choose eco-friendly, reusable packaging like jute/cotton bags, or recycle glass and plastic packaging instead of just letting it pollute the planet. Speaking of plastic, beauty brands must also make a conscious effort to minimize single-use plastic and switch to recyclable packaging.

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Although solving the problem of plastic packaging would be a big step forward for the beauty industry, the concept of sustainability goes beyond plastic. For example, the Cruelty-Free label is something consumers look for when purchasing a brand’s products. Animal testing, an inhumane concept, while banned in several countries including India, is still practiced by some beauty brands, either doing it themselves or through a third party.

Luckily, as consumers become more aware, the leaping bunny symbol found on the packaging of truly cruelty-free brands is also becoming a consideration when stocking up their makeup shelves. Additionally, for brands that consciously change their approach, it is imperative to consider other crucial aspects such as ethically sourcing ingredients, giving back to society and protecting the planet because, as is often said, there is no such thing as Planet B .


That being said, there are brands in the beauty industry that have been driving change and pioneers when it comes to sustainability. These brands are even activists when it comes to protecting the planet and helping to empower marginalized sections of society.

While there is still much work to be done when it comes to sustainability, every step counts and more brands adopting a sustainable approach is certainly a glimmer of hope. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.



The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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