At a time when more and more brands are going cruelty-free, the idea of ethical beauty and fashion is becoming more and more popular.
Specifically, many consumers are increasingly demanding transparency when it comes to just how their makeup is manufactured. This growing demand has spurred a growing clean beauty industry which promotes natural, healthier products.
However, even when it comes to these natural products, there may be some issues concerning the ethics of suppliers.
A new report published by Verisk Maplecroft, a UK data company the works with brands to analyze their “reputational risk,” released a new report last week. This report centered on a variety of raw materials which are commonly on the ingredient list of beauty products, most of which are either mined or farmed (cocoa, copper, carnauba wax, etc.).
The company collected data on the production of said materials, assessing their risks associated with makeup production. Among these risks were government corruption, water pollution, working hour/wage abuses, child labor, and trafficking.
Meagan Norris, a commodities analyst who compiled the report, chose the ingredients to study by going on Sephora’s website and looking through their best selling products. This allowed her to study the ingredients list of 25 different products.
Since the report was specifically based around makeup, Verisk Maplecroft divided their findings into five categories: foundation, face cream, mascara, blush/bronzer, and lipstick. Each product was ranked on a 0 to 10 scale, 10 being low risk and 0 being high risk.
The results were truly concerning, as half of the tested materials earned a score between 3.8 to 5.
The report stated that “there was at least one high-risk commodity in each product’s ingredient list.”
For example, cocoa is one of the highest risk ingredients in the study. Cocoa is frequently produced in Ghana and Ivory Coast, and its production is prevalently achieved through child labor. The same is true for ingredients such as shea butter, copper, vanilla, and silk. The report has found that the use of child labor has been identified “in the last five years in at least one of their major producing countries.”
Other ingredients such as carnauba and carnellia wax are often produced in Brazil and Mexico, where abuses concerning working hours and wages have been an issue. These waxes are typically found in lipstick and mascara.
Even seemingly simple crops, such as wheat, barley, and oats have been responsible for some form of water pollution in countries including France, India, Australia, and China.
What do these findings mean for the fashion industry? Well, as we have seen lately, companies do respond to consumer demand.
According to Donna Westerman, the head of consumer and retail at Verisk Maplecroft, the change must begin with large corporations. As she says, the company will have to “be a change agent and focus in on transparency [in the] supply chain,” often because “you have, at the corporate level, the ability to impact so much because you own so much.”
Featured Image via Pixabay/Kinkate