ARE YOU NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL?
Despite what Kermit told us, being green has never been easier, especially when it comes to your beauty routine. A new wave of eco-friendly products has hit the shelves, so you can feel good about looking great, says Michaela Williams
Long gone are the days when eco-friendly beauty meant putting up with patchy foundation powders in limited colours, chalky moisturisers, and essential-oil-based fragrances that ran the gamut from patchouli all the way to patchouli-sandalwood. No longer the domain of crunchy hippies, eco-friendly beauty and natural ingredients have been embraced at large by both consumers and brands, as part of a global, earth-loving trend. With green solidifying its place as the new black, you’ll now find it easier to tick off ethical must-haves on your eco-friendly checklist.
For those looking to explore the world of eco-friendly beauty, a great first stop is supporting small brands that are actively doing their part to protect and benefit the environment, whether that’s saying no to animal testing, or supporting the community and eco-system that provides the raw ingredients. Tammie Umbel, the founder of Shea Terra Organics, says that protecting the native plants that her company develops into deeply soothing skincare is a major priority, as is giving back to the community. ‘My idea was to introduce local beauty traditions that could help protect indigenous flora and wildlife habitats, while bringing needed income into impoverished regions,’ she explains. A mother of 12, the Muslim businesswoman now works with cooperatives and conservation groups throughout Africa, where she sources ingredients such as shea butter and mongongo oil, to help preserve the region’s environmental resources. The founder of Arya Essentials, Shadoh Punnapuzha, says that her skincare brand takes care in sourcing their organic resources. ‘Our first and foremost significant imperative is using ingredients that are certified organic or wildcrafted,’ she explains. ‘[This] makes us an eco-friendly brand, because we source our ingredients from sustainable sources that follow organic methods of farming, [and] we’re lucky enough to work with ingredients from distributors who carefully source and have a concern for the environment. My belief is nature takes care of us, and we should do our part to take care of it, allowing it to continue to nourish us!’
An ethical hot-button issue for decades, it’s a shock to know that some beauty brands still depend on animal testing – using sensitive creatures such as rabbits and mice as guinea pigs. Shoppers wanting a cruelty-free vanity cabinet will need to read the fine print on their favourite products, and be aware of labelling loopholes. While a product may say it’s not tested on animals, this may not cover individual components that make up the final product; it also may not reveal the testing required by international markets. For example, any product retailed within China must be certified as safe to use by government laboratories, which test exclusively on animals.
While the brand may not be directly carrying out experiments on Mr Fluffy, by retailing in a market that requires it, they’ve agreed for their product to be tested on animals. Unsure of how to check if your
An ETHICAL hot-button issue for decades, it’s a SHOCK to know that some beauty brands still depend on ANIMAL TESTING – using SENSITIVE creatures such as rabbits and mice as guinea pigs
favourite moisturiser is against animal testing? Look for brands that have been accredited by animal cruelty watchdog, Choose Cruelty Free (CCF), and sport their rabbit stamp, or head straight to the source and confirm testing methods with the brand directly. Most companies are more than happy to share their cruelty-free status! For example, UAE-born brand Herbal Essentials is firmly against animal cruelty, and throws its support behind Peta’s Beauty Without Bunnies initiative, taking an oath never to test on animals.
With the UAE not exactly known to shy away from all things artificial, the question has to be asked – what’s in it for us? Our experts are adamant that choosing green beauty products is one of the best things you can do for your skin, as well as the
environment. ‘I think in the past people have always thought that natural products do not provide effective results, [but] being ecofriendly affects the quality of our products in a positive way,’ says Shadoh.
We understand the impact of using synthetic additives, pesticides and chemicals when farming, and the effects these ingredients has on the body.’ Her customers agree, with Shadoh calling the response to the range “very positive”. Tammie says the effectiveness of Shea Terra Organics products is not diminished by being ecofriendly, but instead enhanced by her decision to not use synthetic ingredients. ‘Being eco-friendly drastically affects the quality of our products – our products are extremely effective because they use large concentrations of ingredients sourced directly from nature.’
But, sometimes it can be difficult for shoppers to separate the truly natural from the pretenders. Tammie says that doing your research on a brand ahead of purchasing can help you make an informed decision.
‘For example, a liquid and oil emulsion must have a proper preservative system. Is the company listing preservatives? Get used to what real essential oils smell like by purchasing from reputable companies, [the authentic oils] are not cheap. Does the brand in question have products that smell like real essential oils, or do they smell like bathroom freshener? These are ways of unveiling the honesty of eco-friendly clams.’ Shadoh agrees that researching brands is key. ‘Their reputation and information on the website they have will be helpful, [and] their packaging also will be a key indicator of how environmentally friendly they are,’ she says. ‘Generally, if they do use ingredients from organic farming, you know that the philosophy for the brand is alongside being eco-friendly.’
Cutting down on unnecessary packaging is another way beauty brands are saving the world, one shampoo bottle at a time. Arya Essentials uses renewable glass bottles and recyclable paper boxes to benefit the environment. Haircare brand O’right, takes its promise to save the trees very seriously, with its Tree in a Bottle line literally just that. The packaging that houses their natural
Does the BRAND in question have products that smell like real essential oils, or do they smell like BATHROOM FRESHENER? These are ways of unveiling the HONESTY of eco-friendly claims
shampoos and conditioner (from Dh99 at selected salons) breaks down in the soil and thanks to the acacia seeds secured in the base, will one day bloom into a tree. Or, if you prefer, look for products that use no packaging at all. Spill-free, airport-safe and anti-landfill, solid cosmetics are a fantastic addition to your shower if you’re concerned about contributing to the 110 million tonnes of plastic which is discarded each year. Our go-to for solids, Lush, specialises in face and body-bars that keep well in reusable tins. New Zealand brand Sorbet produces coconut oil-infused shampoo and conditioner bars (from Dh71, sorbetcosmetics.com) that smell amazing and keep your hair healthy and shiny. Each bar’s paper wrapping dissolves in the shower during the first use.
Given the myriad ways to update your beauty routine to something a little more eco-friendly, it makes sense to practise a little extra kindness at the cash register. By simply reading labels and switching products, you can help cut landfill, rehabilitate forests, give fair-trade income to remote communities, and ensure you’re not contributing to animal testing practices. Plus, your skin will thank you for choosing products loaded with highquality organic ingredients. So, what’s stopping you from going green?
Tammie Umbel, founder of Shea Terra Organics, works with local communities in Africa so as to protect local flora