Emma Watson is getting us excited about eco beauty right now. The Beauty and the Beast actress set up an Instagram account, @The_Press_Tour, to document her efforts in wearing sustainable fashion and eco-friendly beauty products while promoting the film. While many of us would love to be more aware of the provenance of each beauty product and item of clothing we wear, it's a bit of a minefield out there. Thankfully, Watson and her crack team have done the hard graft for us, creating beautiful outfits and beauty looks with a conscience. One member of her eco-friendly gang is Imelda Burke, founder of Content, a shop in Marylebone, London, and an online store devoted to all things eco beauty and wellness. Burke has been verifying all the beauty products to ensure Watson isn't misled by clever marketing (honestly, it's a minefield). Luckily what Burke doesn't know about eco beauty could be written on a rice grain, which is why Watson has her on speed dial so she can ask her about any products she finds on her travels.
So how do you go eco? Watson told Into the Gloss about her approach, "most of my routine keeps to an 80/20 philosophy because it’s very difficult to be a complete purist, especially when working in the film industry. You can end up driving yourself a bit mad and make it more stressful than it should be. Sometimes you just need a mascara to be waterproof, and that’s okay."
In other words, do what you can, and don't beat yourself up about it. "Emma's interest in questioning what we purchase and consume has extended into what she wears and is using on her skin, asking questions like where do brands come from? What is in a product? And how is it made? Are great questions to ask before you open your wallet," Burke tells Byrdie UK.
Which is why we called on Burke for her advice, so keep scrolling for her guide to transitioning to eco beauty, and then shop Watson's favourite products below.
eco beauty: What does it really mean?
The term can mean a variety of things for different people. People often gravitate towards "eco" beauty to fit with an ethos or interest they may have. This is so much a reason why people first switch that we have badges on each product on our website so that you can easily see if a product matches your ethos. You could be seeking certified cruelty-free products (CF), vegan (VE), wanting to shop local to support the local economy or opt out of air miles (GB) or wanting to support certified organic brands for the environmental benefits of less intensive farming and growing methods (CO), or you could be shopping to avoid synthetic chemicals that you have decided you don't want to use or are sensitive to, this is our content-approved (CA) badge. "Eco" beauty is really an umbrella term that covers all of these subcategories.
how should i make the switch?
Once you find the ethos you want to shop for making the switch can be quite easy: As you finish a product, look for an alternative. I always recommend starting with your body lotion; it is covering the largest surface area of skin (our largest organ) and is the product we buy in the greatest volume.
If you have a natural beauty retailer near you chat to them about product swaps, they will have built up a reference of what other customers using the same products as you found it easy to switch to. I also wrote a product switch list in the back of my book, The Nature of Beauty (£20), that lists some of the world’s best-selling mainstream products and natural alternatives customers have found work well for them.
Are there specific ingredients i should avoid?
We list 40+ ingredients we avoid on our Content Beauty and Wellbeing website but we avoid so much more—it's growing all the time. Until you get to grips with reading ingredients labels I would stick with avoiding the below—if brands are avoiding these it is likely they will be avoiding other ingredients, too.
- Mineral Oil and Petrolatum
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
- Methylisothiazolinone (MI) and Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
- Propylene Glycol (PG) and Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
- Formaldehyde—this is unlikely to be listed, but ingredients that may release formaldehyde under certain conditions include sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate, DMDM hydantoin, Quaternium-15, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea and polyoxymethylene urea.
- Ethanolamines—for example, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA.
- Aluminium chloralhydrate—found in deodorants.
The easiest way though is to look for an independent certification logo, like the Soil Association or the USDA organic logo, as they will have already excluded a lot of ingredients and processes from a product that carries their kite mark. I would also download an app to carry with you, try the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep app, which is great for typing an ingredient into and checking how they rate it. They pull data from medical and scientific databases and collate it into a score from 1 (green light) to 10 (red light)
Which Eco beauty brands do you recommend starting with?
There are many incredible brands available now to match both your skin type and your wallet.
Try a few below:
- Cosmetics—RMS Beauty, Ilia Beauty, Vapour Organic Beauty, Kjaer Weis, Inika, Lily Lolo, Alima Pure.
- Skincare—Tata Harper, Pai Skincare, May Lindstrom, MV Skincare, Nourish London, de Mamiel, Therapi Honey Skincare, Nuori.
- Body Care—Dr Bronners, Ecosopia, Soapwalla Deodorant, The Natural Deodorant Co, Sister & Co, Weleda, French Girl Organics.
- Hair—Rahua, John Masters, Intelligent Nutrients, Boucleme.
Keep scrolling for the beauty products Emma Watson has used on her Beauty and the Beast press tour.