The good news is that sustainable, ethical beauty – beauty that makes the world a better place – is set to surge, from $34.5 billion in 2018 to $54.5 billion in 2027. Alongside established names such as Weleda and Lush, a significant number of emerging dynamic brands are accelerating new futures in beauty with innovations in local ingredients, waterless formulas; even aiming at carbon neutrality. What makes these brands so right for these times is their holistic approach to beauty’s problems, and their understanding that seemingly separate issues such as product formulation, social justice and environmental protection are fundamentally interlinked and connected.
Danish make-up brand Kjaer Weis is certified organic, working closely with its suppliers, while packing its products into smooth refillable, metal cases. BYBI invites customers to send back their skin booster bottles for them to be sterilised and used again. Wellness brand Haeckels, founded by beach warden Dom Bridges, harvests antibacterial seaweed from Margate beaches in the UK for its handmade skincare; its bottles are made from biodegradable algae; its outer packaging is grown from mushrooms. Brands including Pachamamai, Ethique and Lush use condensed formulations to make solid bars, amplifying the efficiency of products while also reducing the need for unnecessary water in the mixtures (and the need for plastic bottles to hold those formulations).
“These purpose-driven beauty companies weave sustainability throughout their whole business, from sourcing and formulation through to independent product certification and paying employees a fair, real, living wage,” says Sterland. For Lush, the potential of beauty to change the world is part of the brand’s DNA. “We very much see ourselves as campaigners,” says spokesperson Jonnie Hatfield. “It’s not enough just to be against something any more. You really need to be making a difference.”
And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.