Episode 14: Sustainable Beauty: Discussing the Top Challenges & Concerns

2018-08 Sustainable beauty explained

In our very first Green Beauty Conversations podcast, we discussed what natural means in skincare and this week’s topic about sustainable beauty is another of those hotly-debated issues that has no clear-cut definition. We’d go so far as to say there are even more interpretations of the term ‘sustainable’ as used in the natural beauty world than there are shades of green.

To help us unravel sustainable beauty and shed light on the top concerns, we spoke to Dr Barbara Olioso, a cosmetic chemist with a long-standing fascination for the traditions of herbalists and formulating with natural ingredients. With over 20 years in both  the beauty and food science industries, Barbara now runs her own business, The Green Chemist Consultancy. 

In this episode, Barbara talks us through the perennial dilemmas about sustainability that face us in our everyday formulating, let alone when we start a beauty brand. From bio-based packaging to sourcing sustainable ingredients and from child labour issues to cruelty-free claims, we touch on just about every elephant lurking in the offices of green beauty businesses.

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We admit that you might come away from listening to this episode with more questions raised than answered! We hope it helps you make your own conscious choices in deciding what sustainable beauty means to you, whether you are home formulating, buying green beauty or running a cosmetics’ business.

In this episode, you’ll hear about:

  • Why the label ‘green’ or ‘natural’ does not mean a cosmetic product or brand is a sustainable beauty entity;
  • Benchmarking your own formulations and green beauty business against 17 UN sustainable development goals;
  • How unsustainable practices can lurk in the most unlikely corners of the green cosmetics industry;
  • How the food industry is influencing and helping drive sustainability in beauty;
  • Why there is no 100% sustainable natural or synthetic ingredient; and
  • Why there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to implementing sustainable practices.

Barbara gives us plenty of pointers on what to think through as we map our own path in sustainable beauty and articulate our mission and ethics.

There is no 100% sustainable natural or synthetic cosmetic ingredient. Agree or disagree? #formulabotanica #greenbeautypodcast with Dr Barbara Olioso finds out why. @Dr_Barbara1 Click To Tweet

Key take-aways from this podcast include:

  • Don’t assume that a naturally-sourced, botanical ingredient is a more sustainable raw material; do thorough homework on its provenance, in particular on the supplier and grower.
  • Zero waste is desirable but the cosmetics’ industry needs to use packaging that protects both product life and consumer health and safety.
  • New developments in how we formulate cosmetic products – for example, solid shampoos that reduce plastic consumption – are pioneering sustainable beauty; this is a trend to watch.

Barbara Olioso’s consultancy offers a range of services to natural beauty businesses, including skincare formulation and certification advice as well as short webinars on areas such as Cosmos certification and natural alternatives to synthetics.

You can find Barbara online here:

The Green Chemist Consultancy Website.
Dr Barbara Olioso on LinkedIn.
Dr Barbara Olioso on Twitter.

Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Formula Botanica: Green Beauty Conversations podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please share, subscribe and review on iTunes or Stitcher so that more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Gemma Ortega Perez | Formula Botanica

Gemma Ortega Perez was Formula Botanica’s Relationship Manager between 2015 – 2019. To read more about the Formula Botanica team, visit our staff page.


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