A term coined by Jeannie Jarnot of Beauty Heroes, Blue Beauty is the new green beauty. It means safe, sustainably sourced ingredients PLUS ocean-safe ingredients and reused, recyclable, or refillable packaging. It’s about limiting our impact on this planet and its inhabitants + actively contributing to a healthier planet.
To be truly blue, brands must consider A LOT of different aspects in their product lifecycle. Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to be blue in all these areas:
Often overlooked in favor of more obvious issues like packaging, ingredient sourcing is ESSENTIAL when we’re talking ocean safety. To be blue, you have to choose ingredients that don’t disrupt the optimal functioning of our natural environment. A couple things to beware of:
Microplastics are plastic pieces less than five millimeters long - they accumulate in our oceans and can be very harmful to fish & aquatic life. Glitter is a big part of this category - fish and birds mistake it for plankton and eat the glitter in large quantities. The sharp edges can then cut the fish and birds from the inside out, or cause them to die from starvation when the material collects in their system. And if they survive this painful experience, they can end up on human plates where we consume the glitter particles ourselves.
Microbeads, another microplastic, are small particles found in makeup and skincare products. While they've already been recognized for their harmful environmental effects and are banned in wash off products, they’re still allowed in stay-on cosmetics.
Used to give a smooth texture to skin and product formulations, silicones are found in about half of all beauty & skincare products. They don't break down (or take an indeterminately long time) and accumulate in our oceans and waterways. Fish and marine life consume these ingredients and suffer the (sometimes deadly) consequences).
PFOAs or Teflon (yes, the same one that coats pans) is found in many cosmetics and also never breaks down. It’s been found in oceans and local water supply and in the bodies of animals, people, and marine life.
Found in chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone is a major problem for our coral reefs. This ingredient makes the coral more susceptible to bleaching and creates lasting damage to an incredibly vital and irreplaceable part of our oceans. Oxybenzone enters our oceans directly from sunscreen-wearing swimmers and also through sewage systems.
Ingredients like EDTA’s, PFA’s, and PFC’s accumulate in the environment and can cause harm to fish, animals, and marine life.
Many ingredients are grown with GMOs or need heavy pesticides and insecticides for growth. These chemicals can degrade the soil, poison waterways, and harm animals, marine life, people, and other plants.
Some natural ingredients take massive amounts of water to produce. That’s freshwater that we need to conserve. To be blue, we have to choose water-efficient ingredients that don’t waste our precious natural resources.
How we source ingredients: We source organic and fair-trade ingredients wherever possible. Every ingredient is non-toxic and certified vegan & cruelty-free. We choose synthetic when it’s more ethical, environmentally-friendly, or safe. We avoid any ingredient that doesn't break down or accumulates in the environment.
Read more about how we choose sustainable ingredients in our blog.
What does a truly 'blue' ingredient look like? Hemp! Hemp captures carbon emissions, every part of the plant is used, it heals and regenerates the soil for future crops, it uses very little water, it can grow almost anywhere (even in damaged soils), and it uses almost no pesticides or insecticides. We use Organic Hemp Seed Oil in our Joshua Tree Palette.
This category refers to the actual mixing, filling, and creation of a beauty product. In this category, we’re looking at the manufacturer’s practices – how much water are they using, how do they dispose of waste and control pollution, and what energy sources do they use?
In many production-heavy areas of the world, manufacturing facilities contribute to massive levels of water, soil, and air pollution. They’re either situated in areas with non-existent environmental regulations, or they aren’t following local guidelines.
At Āether Beauty, our products are formulated in the US, Canada, and Europe at high-quality, reputable facilities we trust. We visit the facilities regularly, meet the people producing our products, see our products at every stage of production, and personally check the quality on a regular basis.
Even our crystals follow this model – our suppliers use environmentally-sound extraction techniques and their facilities are powered with solar technology for a reduced carbon footprint.
This is the most obvious category - how does your packaging affect the environment and our oceans? As you’ve probably heard, it’s predicted that by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish! And the cosmetics industry is one of the biggest contributors to that seriously tragic truth - creating 120 billions pieces of packaging every single year. And most of that plastic-heavy unrecyclable packaging ends up in our landfills or oceans.
To be blue, brands need to #sayno to virgin plastic, use recyclable & recycled materials, use minimal packaging, and overall keep beauty packaging out of our landfills and oceans.
Our packaging: is 100% recyclable and made from recycled materials whenever possible.
Our eyeshadow palettes, blush palettes, and highlighters are made of 100% recyclable FSC certified paper, recyclable aluminum pans, and recyclable water-based soy inks.
Our Radiant Ruby Lip Crème (sold out, but coming back soon) is the first 100% recycled plastic liquid lip component that's also 100% recyclable. By using 100% PCR recycled plastic, we create 25% less carbon emissions than virgin plastic. The outer box is made from FSC certified paper and water-based soy inks that are completely recyclable.
Our packing materials are also chosen with sustainability in mind. All products come in an FSC Certified fully recyclable cardboard box and are sealed with a biodegradable sugar-based sticker.
For instructions on how to recycle every Āether Beauty product, read our blog.
Every product we purchase travels on a plane or a truck (usually both), which releases large amounts of damaging CO2 into the atmosphere. To be blue, we need to limit the distance our products have to travel (that means producing closer to home), and work to offset the carbon emissions created through their transport.
Our blue shipping measure: For about $0.28 (depending on weight) you can purchase carbon-neutral shipping for your Āether Beauty order. Our partner, Cloverly calculates the carbon impact of that order and offsets exactly that amount with green energy credit purchases.
This applies to packaging (see above), but also to how the actual cosmetic affects the environment when thrown away or rinsed off the body.
Questions to ask: When you rinse the products off your face, do they break down and biodegrade or do they accumulate in our environment and oceans? And are these products easy to recycle or reuse and does the brand offer end-of-life options for you, the customer?
Our recycling measures: even though our products are 100% recyclable, we offer a free Terracycle programs for customers who don’t have easy access to recycling facilities. Simply fill out this order form to receive your recycling envelope from Terracycle. Read more about how it works on our blog.
While it’s great limiting our impact on the environment, we need to offset our activities with positive measures to balance the scales.
We give 1% of our sales to 1% For The Planet. This charity supports environmental initiatives that restore and preserve our oceans, help reverse climate change, reduce pollution, and conserve and protect land.
We’re also a certified benefit corporation which means we’re committed to higher standards of purpose, accountability, and transparency. We’re built to balance profit with purpose.
Blue beauty means creating products that last and multitask so customers can buy fewer products that last longer. That means less cosmetic waste overall.
Āether Beauty shadows, blushes, highlighters, and lip crèmes are formulated with ingredients (and in shades) that can be worn all over the face, so you can buy fewer things! Plus, our products last for 3-4 years after opening, meaning you’ll never have to throw out your fave new shadow before you finish it.
If we all focused on creating a small collection of sustainably-packaged, long-lasting, holy-grail products, we could substantially cut cosmetic waste.
The most powerful measure would be government regulation. If brands were required to package their products in an environmentally/ocean-friendly manner, change could begin immediately.
Until that happens, we beauty consumers have to do the legwork to figure out which brands truly walk the talk when it comes to blue beauty. Let’s continue to expect more from our favorite brands, ask the tough question, tell them that going blue is important to us, and vote with our dollars by purchasing from brands aligned with our ethos.
- Āether Beauty xo
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Keep reading to learn more about how we evaluate ingredients for sustainability, and why in some situations, a safe synthetic is the most sustainable option.