What exactly do we mean when we say Ethical?
We all know that nothing is perfect, especially when we’re working on media productions of any size. There will always be pros and cons to doing anything, which is why it’s important to figure out what is important for you and in your working practice to ultimately leave the smallest possible footprint on the Earth.
In particular when it comes to purchasing any product it is important to weigh up the costs and the benefits; what a product is made out of, the manufacturing processes involved, ingredient supply chain, carbon footprint, packaging and shipping practices.
These areas of a business and the structures around them are often complex and, frankly, when you look into anything as detailed as the ingredient supply chain for each ingredient of a multi-product brand, things can get difficult - it is a lot of information to assess as an outsider. We have done our best to be in contact with the brands in question and have acted on the information they have given us so as to give you the most accurate portrayal of what they are doing well...because there are a lot of people trying to deliver wonderful things in wonderful ways!
As you’ll see on the directory, we’ve highlighted various potentially problematic areas that we question. Below I go on to address some of these, and why you might find some categories missing that you might have expected.
Animal Welfare and Testing
We haven’t labelled any products as ‘cruelty free’ as animal testing on all cosmetic products sold in the UK (and Europe) was banned in 2013. As of 2020 China will no longer require animal testing on cosmetic products (Covid-19 has delayed a lot of things going through, and this might be one of them) bringing it in line with places like the USA. This means that they do not require animal testing, but haven’t banned it either. As such, new products launched and purchased in these markets only (i.e. not sold in the UK or EU) might have been tested on animals. As long as it is retailed and purchased from the UK or EU a cosmetic product will not have been tested on animals.
There is also the question of the use of animal labour in ingredient manufacture. We are aware that forced animal labour is sometimes used to help acquire raw ingredients, and we are duly horrified. We have asked all the brands about their ingredient supply chains so, to the best of our knowledge everything we recommend does not use forced animal labour in their manufacturing processes.
As we are also aware, there are cases of the use of child labour - particularly in mica (a common cosmetic ingredient) mining. There is still a huge global problem of slave labour. Again, we have spoken to the brands that feature in our Directory to make sure, to the best of our abilities, that this isn’t involved in their manufacturing process. We would obviously never endorse any brand that knowingly takes part in these kind of practises.
We have chosen not to highlight any product that has petroleum-based ingredients, but that’s it. The term chemical-free doesn’t really mean anything, as everything is a chemical from the water we drink to the air we breathe. Similarly the label of 'natural' on any product doesn’t really mean anything either. There is no protection on using that phrase and it doesn’t have any legal definition, therefore it can often be unhelpful and misleading.
We have not touched on toxicity either as basically it’s a minefield. However there is stringent cosmetic testing on products retailed in the UK and the EU. This is some of the most comprehensive in the world, and requires all cosmetic products on the market to comply with (animal free) testing regulations so that no products or ingredients that are proven to cause harm can be sold. The details of which can be found here:
Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. This includes details on animal testing, ingredient inclusion, nano-materials and UV filters.
An extensive list of ingredients that are banned can be found in Annex II.
For a slightly less dry read: https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/product-safety/cosmetic-products#relevantlegislation contains a lot of the information you might want to read up on with regards to cosmetic manufacture.
There may be some ingredients now or newly considered toxic, but without being chemists and biologists ourselves we hesitate to fall on any hard side in these arguments. As such, as long as they fall under the legal requirements provided in the UK and EU, we will include it in our list.
Is there anything you would like more information on or any other areas you think we should take a closer look at? Let us know on the contact us page!