The other day, I was glancing back at some of my posts from last spring and summer. And back then, I wrote a two-part series called, “Innovative Beauty Products I wish were Clean Beauty.” At the time, these focused on trending beauty innovations such as sheet masks and contour kits.
Since then, I’ve learned tons about what’s possible in the green beauty realm, which ingredients are beneficial and which are harmful — and what product innovations are yet untapped. So I decided to put all my thoughts together into this Ultimate Green Beauty Wishlist, 2016 edition.
Call me high maintenance, but my list of needs is long. It’s one part Christmas list, one part memo to the green beauty industry writ large. Buckle in, here we go!
Less coconut and argan oils, more jojoba and squalene oils.
At first glance, this one may seem solely self-serving. I’ve had a lot of fine (and not so fine) rashes that have been caused by both argan and coconut oils. And while argan oil is a bit of a personal gripe, there are a ton of folks who’ve found that coconut oil does not do them any favors.
And that’s because as trendy as the moisturizer can be, it doesn’t necessarily mesh well with human skin. I can see the appeal, it’s an effective, natural and vegan moisturizer that can easily be used instead of petroleum based compounds such as silicone. And it can be manipulated by chemists to create lathering products.
However, there are other compounds in the natural world that do better with human skin. Jojoba oil, for instance, is close to the sebum that our bodies produce — the substance that is needed to balance moisture in the skin. And olive derived squalene is a vegan source of a compound that is already found in our sebum.
Facial oils and lotions are very personal and each one won’t necessarily work for everyone. But I propose that using compounds that come closer to what’s in the human complexion will be more effective.
Less beeswax, royal jelly and other bee derived compounds.
In a perfect world, I’d love to have all my personal care products be not only toxin-free and eco-friendly, but also vegan and cruelty-free. Testing on animal isn’t usually something that small, green beauty brands do anyways, but most people in the beauty industry turn a blind eye to the problem of bees.
I have no doubt that tiny indie brands who own their own farms and do their own beekeeping are doing no harm. But the problem here is demand. Everyone from Cleopatra to celebrities such as Kate Hudson has sworn by products containing Royal Jelly as their supreme beauty secret, and countless green beauty companies rely on beeswax as the backbone of their cosmetic products.
There’s no way that bee byproducts are being obtained sustainably when most beauty products — conventional or green — contain them. Beeswax is so ubiquitous that I am part of the problem: dozens of my fave beauty and makeup products contain it. I’d love green beauty brands to look into vegan alternatives such as carnauba wax or candelilla wax instead. After all, a handful of brands have proven that truly vegan and green beauty is not impossible!
Less essential oils.
This another sensitive skin gripe. There have been countless times that I’ve picked a skincare product off the shelf and been obsessed with the ingredients it contains, until I find that they threw in some essential oils as well.
I can see the appeal: instead of using toxic synthetic fragrances, green beauty brands choose to use essential oils to give products an appealing scent. But they can be harsh for those of us who are sensitive. Don’t get me wrong — I love scented soaps, bath products, or candles. I just don’t want essential oils in my facial skin care.
Responsible faux hair/hair pieces.
So many people who are beauty obsessed rely on wigs and hair extensions. For many, this is a way to express their true selves without damaging their natural hair. However, the global hair industry is rife with problems. Currently, the choice is between human hair that was obtained unethically or (gulp) harvested from corpses, and petroleum-based faux hair that was probably not produced via fair trade and harmed the environment in its making.
Is it too much to ask that wigs in every texture and color of the rainbow be produced using I dunno, some yet-to-be discovered bamboo-based plant plastic or via fair trade if it is human hair? I’ve actually been told that this is currently not possible. But that just seems to me like a challenge that has yet to be answered.
Toxin-free hair dye.
Hair dye is another product category that has yet to be fully developed. You can choose henna, which is perfectly safe and toxin-free. However, it is also permanent and the resulting colour can be different from person to person. And there are a handful of companies that produce ‘green’ hair dyes…but some are greenwashed, others are hard to get your hands on.
This is another product category that you can find…if you look hard enough. Or if you like, you can always DIY it and use some coconut oil or other plant based oil. But that could be risky. I want a toxin-free protectspray for when I straighten my hair!
Sustainably made hair tools.
Ah, modern appliances and their planned obsolescence. I can’t be the only one who has had hair driers, straighteners and other heat tools just give up on life before their time. I’d really love it if responsibly made heat tools, created using sustainable materials, could last a lifetime.
Less Titanium Dioxide in powdered makeup.
One ingredient that I’ve recently taken issue with is Titanium Dioxide. It’s one of those ingredients that’s controversial: it has been linked to lung cancer, but there’s not enough evidence to make that a causal link. And so like many potentially toxic compounds, it’s had a pass in the cosmetic industry.
The thing about Titanium Dioxide is that it’s only potentially harmful in powder form. When added to creams, lotions, liquid foundation, primers, and lipsticks, it’s fine. It actually provides sunscreen protection. And there actually is no evidence that nano particles do any harm when applied topically. The problem comes from inhalation of this mineral.
However, in the green beauty world it’s extensively used in loose and pressed eyeshadows, powder foundations, powder bronzers and powder highlighters. The purpose of this is to provide opacity to pigmented produces and it’s used in so many products that part of me wonders whether it’s possible to create massive ranges of colours without it.
But then I remember brands such as 100% Pure, who produce fruit pigmented cosmetics, and Sudsatorium who colour their bath and body products with a vast array of compounds such as indigo and chlorophyll. And there are mineral makeup products that do not contain this particular compound — so it is possible to go without. Or, if it’s not, it is possible to include it in cream products only.
For my part, I have a ton of loose and pressed eyeshadow and other products that contain Titanium Dioxide. I’m going to stop purchasing this products, and in the meantime I’ll take the loose mineral shades (the most concerning ones) and turn them into cream products (once I figure it out, I’ll have a DIY coming soon)!
There are a handful of green beauty brands that make toxin-free gel eyeliner, but it seems to be the exception rather than the rule. I need my gel, it’s so easy to use — and I need it in every colour!
Squalene and other beneficial oil-infused makeup.
Related to my skincare rant, I’d love to see face makeup that contain skincare benefits. Many brands seem to have focused on taking out what’s bad and while that’s a worthwhile endeavor many have got that down pat, it means that I see a lot of clean makeup foundations that have very similar formulas.
I’d love to see green beauty brands differentiate themselves by what skincare benefits and performance their makeup can offer. And while we’re on that topic, I’d love to see a breakthrough happen that would see full coverage, matte foundations hit the green beauty market.
Fair trade makeup brushes.
There are a lot of high-quality, synthetic and even sustainably made makeup brushes to choose from nowadays, at every price point. However, the list of fair trade brushes is tiny. The list of companies that produce makeup brushes in North America is even smaller. Shocking!
Silk and mink-free faux lashes that are fair trade.
Similarly, there is only a single company that I know of who produce faux lashes that are neither silk nor mink nor human hair, are eco-conscious and created through fair trade. If you’re wearing faux lashes, they were probably mass produced somewhere in which labor regulations don’t matter.
There is one product on the market by a green beauty brand that’s a water resistant mascara, but truly toxin-free waterproof mascara has yet to be achieved. Some day soon I hope!
This one might seem like a weird entry, because there are certainly some green beauty lip liners on the market. They just don’t seem to be as accessible as other toxin-free products categories. So far, I’ve only found the ones made by Zuzu Luxe and Australian brand Zuii are easily found at terra20 in Ottawa or Whole Foods in Toronto and throughout the USA. There’s also Jane Iredale pencils that are safe to use, but the extremely drying silica they contain mean that I’d give these a pass if you don’t like desert lips.
Liquid Highlight, multi-coloured highlights, all the highlights.
Ever since strobing became a thing last spring, the demand for ever more unique highlighters has ramped by like crazy. Now there are rainbow highlights, multicoloured highlights, and highlights that are gold, pink, white, rose gold, blue…and highlights for every part of the face. And I want them all.
Long wearing liquid lipstick.
I am an avid follower of many conventional beauty gurus. I love soothing voices like Tati Westbrook’s, deep knowledge of cosmetic history like Lisa Elridge has, big personalities like Jeffree Star, and off-the-wall hilarity that peeps like Spankie Valentine provide.
But man, do I get jealous of the makeup items that they can play with. Conventional beauty is busting with trendy products that are full of toxins, and many of these have toxin-free versions already. But there is one type of product that has yet to be duplicated by green beauty brands: long-wearing liquid lipstick.
I’m referring to the truly matte, truly 12-hour smudge-proof, budgeless liquid lipsticks made famous by that same Jefree Star as well as countless other companies. These are lipsticks that can only be broken down by oil. And while Glory Boon has tried, that one’s more along the lines of a NYX Cream Suede lipstick: pretty glossy, not exactly budgeless.
Luckily, recently I stumbled across my own recipe for a long-wearing liquid lipstick that does not budge until it comes in contact with oils. I’m currently still in the testing phase of this particular product… trying to figure out the best way to produce, demo and maybe sell it in the future. Who knows? I seriously wish I was a big enough blogger to partner with a green beauty brand on this right now, cause I don’t relish the possibility of opening an Etsy shop. But if it works out, you can bet I’ll give the people what they want!
…And all the colours.
Speaking to the issue of colours that I brought up in my first point, the green beauty industry is sorely lacking on colour range. I’m not sure if this is because natural beauty has long been associated with a natural look, but it’s only recently that multi-coloured mascara or super vibrant lip shades have hit the market. Green Beauty is becoming more and more associated with glamour, but here I’m referring to the multi-coloured unicorns who are looking for black lipsticks and rainbow highlights. Need more of that!
And I’m also referring to inclusion. It’s not every brand that offers a huge range of makeup that caters to every skin tone. Come on, people, you can’t not know that there’s more than one version of ‘nude’!
Beauty Industry Legislation
End Animal Testing.
Like many of the items that will be on this particular list, this is a wish for the beauty industry entire. This is still not a law in Canada or in the USA, even though the results of animal testing by big, corporate beauty brands does not prevent humans being exposed to thousands of personal care toxins daily.
End the Use of Toxins and Controversial Ingredients in the Beauty Industry.
Whether it’s parabens, which have been found in breast tumors but don’t have enough research done to be causally linked to breast cancer, or the cheap filler talc which may or may not be contaminated with carcinogens — or ‘trade secrets’ such as ‘fragrance’ that contain undisclosed amounts of formaldehyde, in the USA and Canada there needs to be comprehensive, all-encompassing laws that restrict the toxins allowed to be bought and sold daily on this continent.
Better Access to Locally Produced Beauty Products.
There are many small, indie shining stars in Canada as well as the USA when it comes to toxin-free personal care and beauty. However, getting those products into the hands of consumers is currently really difficult. If you live in a big city it might be easy to get your hands on some of these lines, but elsewhere it’s not so straightforward. Sure, some lines such as Tata Harper, Herbivore Botanicals, Juice Beauty, Lavanila Laboratories and RMS Beauty are making inroads into Sephora, Sage Natural Wellness is popping up in every Canadian mall and online shops like the Detox Market and Well.ca are multiplying by the day…but online shopping is not always ideal for everyone.