The beauty landscape has evolved unimaginably over the years. Hundreds of trends have emerged, with some of them fizzling out while some became the norm.
India, home to 1.4 billion+ people, has a beauty market that is the 8th largest in the world and valued at $15 billion. And these are extraordinary times for the Indian beauty industry. It’s being shaped by a rising young consumer demographic that prioritizes one of the most important aspects that will ensure our planet’s well-being - sustainability.
The Repercussions on the Planet
Unfortunately, the beauty industry has long been notoriously known for its impact on the planet. From unrecycled plastic containers to products with ingredients that severely affect marine life, testing products on animals, and using non-recyclable packaging, the beauty industry has undeniably wreaked havoc on the environment for several years. The industry’s very functioning has been disastrous for our planet, with over 120 billion units of packaging ending up in landfills and oceans each year.
The industry has been one of the biggest contributors to the rising levels of global warming and climate change. A study revealed that a majority of beauty products contribute to Carbon dioxide emissions and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Considering these facts, it’s safe to say that the beauty industry has created havoc on the environment for decades. Now, it’s high time we attempt to reverse the damage.
The Gradual Shift in Mindset/Behavior
Fortunately, more and more people are realizing the effects of climate change and global warming and are consciously making an effort to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. Thanks to this, there has been a colossal shift in consumers’ preferences and mindsets, especially when it comes to using beauty products they use every day. They are concerned about the environment as well as what they put on their skin and hair for their own well-being.
The days when consumers purchased beauty products by prioritizing the fancy, Instagrammable packaging are long gone. Today, consumers are incredibly mindful of the ingredients that go into the formulation of every beauty product they use. Besides, they also consider the core philosophies of the brand they purchase from - whether the brand is genuine in its marketing, if it is truly sustainable, whether it uses skin-safe and environment-safe ingredients, and if it’s cruelty-free.
The Rise of sustainable beauty
Sustainable beauty transcends merely avoiding plastic containers and using safe ingredients. While these are important, true sustainability is about recycling or repurposing the containers, even if they are made of plastic, using eco-friendly materials wherever possible, formulating products with ingredients of natural origin, and doing your part in giving back to the planet and society. This means that it’s essential to be actively involved in lowering the impact at every step of the way. In a nutshell, sustainable beauty considers the effects of its existence on the future of our planet.
Sustainability, however, is a long journey that involves change at the grassroots level at every step of the way - from the sourcing of ingredients to the supply chain, packaging, partners, and of course, consumers. Speaking of consumers, it’s their decision-making and demand that brands cater to, making them the most important stakeholder. Without them, brands would cease to exist. And the shift in focus from fancy packaging and exterior looks to what’s on the inside and what the brands they purchase from believe in has been one of the most significant positive changes the beauty industry has seen.
Brands’ Role in Sustainability
Today, the concept of sustainability is picking up quickly in India. Apart from consumer awareness growing tremendously, brands, too, are going the extra mile to ensure minimal impact on the environment. Beauty brands are developing an affinity towards sustainable operations, the need of the hour. In fact, global beauty brands with a fan following in India have sustainability as a part of their identity.
More and more brands are making long-term commitments like recycling and repurposing the plastic packaging of their products to counter the massive amounts of plastic waste ending up in landfills and oceans. Besides, on a granular level, they are considering plant-based plastics and other biodegradable materials to reduce the production and usage of oil-based plastic.
In terms of giving back to society and the environment, brands and consumers are conscious about how the ingredients are sourced and where they come from to ensure fairness on all fronts. To that end, ethical sourcing of ingredients and formulation of products are being prioritized.
For instance, even global beauty brands catering to Indian consumers are introducing vegan product ranges and are actively avoiding and campaigning against animal testing in any way, shape, and form. Further, since sustainability also includes the survival and prosperity of local communities, beauty brands are engaging in fair trade, ensuring that every worker/farmer at the grassroots level is paid fairly. They are even engaging in community development projects to provide a better standard of living and a thriving livelihood. Some brands even encourage consumers to participate in the campaigns they launch and play an active role in protecting the planet and the life on it.
While there is still plenty of work to be done, especially in the beauty space, we have come a long way in recognizing the need for sustainability and taking steps to ensure it. Sustainability, unlike many other passing trends, is here to stay. It’s the future and the only way forward that can ensure our collective well-being on Earth. After all, it’s our only home.