Health and beauty products range from the indispensable to the indefensible, although they are promoted, without exception, as the former. While most of us wouldn’t consider going without toothpaste or shampoo, musk-based perfumes and disposable nappies are less easy to justify. The fine line between necessity and luxury has been successfully blurred by decades of marketing, but a small number of companies specialise not only in ethical basics, but in indulgence with a conscience.
Most ethical companies generally rely on traditional ingredients, such as natural moisturisers, vegetable fats and non-synthetic fragrances, allaying many people’s fears about the contents of the cosmetics they use. Particular worries are related to the inclusion of chemicals in many creams and cleansers, including petro-chemical derivatives more readily associated with household than skin cleaning products.
Another issue is Deet, a highly toxic pesticide used in many insect repellents, which is responsible for many thousands of workers’ deaths in the countries producing it. incognito is one completely natural alternative that’s based on organic citronella, eucalyptus and camphor. See their website for more detail and information on other essential products www.lessmosquito.com. The lack of scientific research in this area means it is difficult to make any proclamations about the safety, or otherwise, of the most popular brands. Unsurprisingly, then, the message is to be cautious.
The animal rights movement has long been associated with the health and beauty industry, and was integral in the campaign to ban animal testing on cosmetics. It remains a vocal critic of those companies that have been slow to change their policies. In 2013, in what has been seen by animal rights supporters as an historic victory, the EU bought into effect an immediate ban on the import and sale of cosmetics containing ingredients tested on animals and pledged more efforts to push other parts of the world, like China, to accept alternatives.
The Co-op became the first supermarket to have its own brand products approved by Cruelty-Free International (previously known as BUAV), and other mainstream retailers have since followed suit including Argos, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. More products are now available in organic and cruelty-free varieties than ever before, and individual demand for such brands will enable the companies to increase their supply. Many buyers support these companies partly as a way of avoiding the pharmaceutical giants, whose policies are often difficult to pin down, and who tend to have a much more short-sighted, profit-led outlook. Green People (www.greenpeople.co.uk) offers a large range of ethical beauty products and receives a high Ethical Ranking in our research.
Below you will find links to the key sections of our ethical research in Fashion:
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