This Is What an Ethical Beauty Company Actually Looks Like

Amanda Montell
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Urban Outfitters

You care about the planet, right? You care about animals, the environment, and humanitarian rights. And you try to back that up with your dollar, opting out of buying from big corporations whenever you can in favor of smaller brands with cool indie packaging because that's the ethical thing to do. At least, it definitely seems that way.

Ethically conscious shopping is something that beauty consumers are caring about more and more, but just because a brand claims to be "small-batch," "natural," or "eco-friendly" doesn't really mean, well, anything. "There's a lot of greenwashing of business these days," says Susan Griffin-Black, co-founder of organic personal care brand EO Products. That term "greenwashing" is used to describe brands that make it seem like their company has high ethical standards, but doesn't have any real proof of that. "Many of the certifications and awards for being 'eco' are created simply to add these buzzwords into marketing materials for unethical companies," Griffin-Black explains. Le sigh.

Because of this murkiness, it's hard to know which businesses are truly "ethical" (and how that word even translates to a company's practices). "It takes a bit of research to see which corporations are doing good and which are simply monetizing the public demand," says Griffin-Black. For example, you can reference websites like Leaping Bunny to find out if a brand is cruelty-free, you can check for Fair Trade certification to see which companies protect worker's rights and factory standards, and you can always contact a brand directly. (If they are truly ethical, they'll be transparent with you.) Regardless, Griffin-Black says that the process does, unfortunately, take some research on the part of consumers.

But EO Products, co-founded by Griffin-Black in 1995, is one beauty brand that does uphold all the ethical standards and certifications you'd hope for in an "eco" company. To get a firsthand look at how the brand operates in real life, I paid a visit to the EO Products factory in Sausalito, CA. Keep scrolling to see what a truly ethical beauty company looks like.

Next up: Learn a few tiny tweaks you can make to become a more ethical beauty junkie.

This press trip was paid for by EO. Editors' opinions are their own.

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