Clean beauty

Does ‘natural’ mean ‘sustainable’?

Does ‘natural’ mean ‘sustainable’?

Being sustainable is in fashion. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that “sustainability” has been one of 2020’s biggest buzzwords, with many businesses now promoting their new-found green credentials and love for the environment. But how much is true sustainability and how much is just marketing?

In general, there is a misunderstanding about what sustainability really means. While contextually it symbolizes a balance between people, planet and profit, it is very easy for brands to fall into the trap of only focusing on a single aspect of this. For example, going plastic-free yet never taking into consideration how their customers dispose of the rest of the packaging (or trying to educate them on it) or declaring themselves ‘sustainable’ because they only use natural ingredients.

Both consumers and also a huge part of the scientific community believe that ‘natural’ is automatically synonymous with ‘sustainable’ when, unfortunately the truth can be quite the opposite. One of the challenges facing the natural beauty industry is the availability of the ingredients used. Imagine if all manufacturers used the same ingredient, what would happen? The answer is quite easy…There would simply not be enough for everyone.

The uproar over palm oil has certainly helped consumers to understand idea of sustainable resources much better and due to this, there is now immense public pressure on beauty industry brands to make sustainable ingredients a top priority. Take Candelilla wax for example, a natural vegetable wax that comes from a Mexican shrub and can be found in many lipstick formulas. According to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) this plant is classified as an endangered species. What’s more, another aspect of its cultivation which throws doubt on its sustainability it is the yield. This is a crucial factor for an ingredient to be considered truly sustainable, together with the amount of maintenance the plant requires and its growth rate.

Here at Twelve we have always given priority to sustainable ingredients, sourcing ones that truly tick all the boxes. For example:

– Mallow Flower Extract: A nitrophilous plant, meaning it grows rapidly in soils rich in nitrogen (human activities are greatly increasing the amount of nitrogen cycling between the living world and the soil). In other words, it tolerates polluted environments.

– Buddleja Leaf Extract: As a colonising plant it’s also linked with polluted soils. You’ll spot it in abandoned fields or by the side of railway lines.

– Spent Grain Wax: A food industry by-product that would have been thrown out otherwise.

– Cupuaçu Butter: One of the natural butters with highest yields.

– Squalane: Despite coming from a small fraction of olive oil, each olive tree is actually capable of absorbing 5 tones of CO2 a year!

– Hyaluronic Acid: With new bio-technology methods, it is now produced naturally and in huge quantities.

So maybe, the next time a company tells you to ‘go green’, ask them how they do it and why. Go beyond the buzzwords andopt for ethical brands that truly believe in championing sustainability and equality with transparency and integrity. Core values that are the key to the well-being of our planet and future generations.

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