How To Make Ethical Beauty And Fashion Choices

Every woman faces an uphill battle to realize her own beauty, and while this change should come from within wherever possible, there’s no shame in leaning on the beauty industry to give our self-esteem a nudge when we need it the most.

Whatever the haters and the shamers may say, we all have a right to look good and to feel good within ourselves. It’s the key to unlocking our confidence and getting the best out of ourselves in our careers and in our relationships.

Fortunately, whatever we need to feel good about ourselves and to be empowered by the knowledge that we represent the best possible versions of ourselves can be provided by the beauty, fashion, and cosmetics industries.

The need to maintain one’s look may be considered a first world problem but it’s one that empowers women (and men) all over the world. Our clothes are our armor and our makeup is our warpaint and they can play a huge part in allowing us to face the harsh realities of the concrete jungle and dress for success with a sense of pride in ourselves.

As important as it is to look good, it’s also important to do good.

Millions of women and men from all over the world are slowly but surely waking up to the ethical consequences of the choices they make as consumers both in the products they buy and the businesses they buy them from.

It’s no longer novel for businesses to conduct themselves with a social and environmental conscience, it’s an expectation. That said, the beauty industry has been one of the slowest industries to adapt to make its practices more ethical. While there are many businesses out there doing sterling work in creating gorgeous products that come at a very minimal environmental cost the cosmetics industry as a whole is responsible for a whole lot of environmental damage.

Don’t worry though. It’s easy to look just as gorgeous while still doing your bit to help the environment and reduce harmful waste. It’s merely a case of making a few small changes to your beauty habits that can add up to make a big difference… Plus you’ll have the undeniable glow that comes with knowing you’re doing your bit to make the world a better place.

Let’s talk about the F word

The fashion palette for fall/winter 2017/2018 is one that’s alive with texture. It’s the season of furry and textured coats and bags, of fur-lined boots and retro/vintage bags. The clean lines of the summer are out and a movement towards more natural fibers and furry textures is in. But it’s perfectly easy to embrace the look of the season without embracing fur itself.

Synthetic furs have come so far since they were first introduced in the early 1900s that they’re now visually indistinguishable from the real thing, allowing you to achieve dazzlingly beautiful looks without the need for the ubiquitous cruelty of the fur industry.  

Unfortunately few people are aware that the standards of care for animals that are farmed for the fur industry are nowhere near as stringent as the standards for animals that are raised for the meat and dairy industries (which aren’t even that great, to begin with).

Each year over a billion rabbits and 50 million other animals from foxes to mink and even dogs are killed worldwide for their pelts and skins. They’re kept in very poor conditions in a state of near-perpetual stress and confinement with some animals resorting to self-mutilation and cannibalism as a result of their stress and fear.

It’s taken a while but many of the leading lights of the fashion industry are now openly refusing to use fur. Gucci is the most recent big brand to forego fur while the likes of Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney have always opted to eschew it from their designs, opting instead for plant-based or entirely synthetic fabrics.

If you’re looking to inject some ethical integrity into your wardrobe, cutting out fur is one of the easiest ways to do it.

Go natural where you can

There’s no shame in admitting that most of us have been using products that are harmful to the environment and the creatures that call it home for decades. These products are so ubiquitous that you’d need to go pretty far out of your way not to use them. Nonetheless, once you know the damage that they can do; both the products themselves and the packaging they come in (more on that later), it can be pretty hard to un-know.

Fortunately, for every potentially harmful synthetic product on the market, there’s a safe and natural alternative.

Their development of all-natural cosmetics has become a billion-dollar growth industry meaning that there’s no need to subject your skin to harsh chemicals when natural compounds will do the job just as well. Check out this mango butter at for a great example.

While there’s some debate as to whether the use of organic or natural beauty products is actually better for your skin there isn’t any compelling evidence to suggest that they can be any more harmful or damaging. Plus there can be no denying that naturally occurring compounds are more likely to be biodegradable and less likely to take an environmental toll when washed down the sink.

That said, even products that market themselves as natural can sneak some nasty ingredients in there. Keep an eye on those ingredients labels and watch out for the following;

  • P-phenylenediamine- a coal-tar derived chemical sometimes found in dark hair coloring or lipsticks.
  • Dioxane- a chemical found in cream-based cosmetics, shampoos, moisturizers, hand soap and bubble baths. It’s carcinogenic and a proven endocrine disruptor. If consumed by pregnant women in drinking water it can result in birth defects.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)- This is a pH regulator that’s used in a wide range of cosmetic products. It reacts with nitrates in the environment to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic to both humans and animals. They are deadly to fish, and potentially deadly to the people and animals who subsist on the fish in affected waters.  

Plastic can be drastic

Plastic is everywhere. We use so much of it, yet we’re mostly unaware of the fact that plastic never goes away. The first toothbrush you ever owned? It’s still out there somewhere! The makeup brush you used when you were 14? It’s floating around out there! While cutting plastic out of your life entirely is a Herculean task that requires more effort than most of us have to spare, it’s blessedly easy to cut plastics out of your beauty regimen.

One of the most damaging plastics in the beauty industry comes in the form of microbeads- tiny plastic balls that are used in some toothpaste and exfoliant products. When these enter our rivers, streams, and oceans they can wreak significant damage on the ecosystem.

Microbeads are one of the biggest contributors to plastic water pollution on the planet. They absorb toxins from their environment and when they are consumed by fishes, birds and other marine life feed on them, thinking that they are plankton, they often prove deadly. Fortunately, governments around the world are taking action against the cosmetic use of microbeads. Make sure yours is one of them!

Swapping your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one is a simple yet effective change you can make as is substituting your toilet role for a more readily degradable bamboo alternative.

Finally, you can ensure that you only buy products that are packaged in recyclable plastics. Recycling plastic is a great way to improve the environment without compromising on your lifestyle choices.

Cruelty-free is easy

You’d be astonished how many brands have yet to eschew animal testing. Nonetheless, the rise of vegan and cruelty-free advocates like Kat Von D and Jeffree Star and vegan beauty influencers like LaMadelynn and Kristen Leanne have led to the widespread demand for cruelty-free cosmetics that not only shun animal testing but create dazzlingly gorgeous products without using a single animal product. It’s not like anyone really wants to lightly brush their eyelids with crushed beetle shells anyway.

Recycle your clothes

The way we buy clothes has changed a lot in the past few decades. When previous generations had to make do and mend, it’s usually easier for the millennial generation to replace rather than repair damaged clothes.

We’re buying more clothes than ever, which is great… A girl’s got to have options, right? But not everyone disposes of their clothes in an ethical way. Thus, the Average American tosses out 82 lbs in textile waste each and every year. There are 11 million tons of discarded clothes in US landfills alone. You can help to combat this by upcycling your clothes or at least donating them to charity when you’re done with them.

One girl’s trash is another girl’s treasure, after all!

You’re gorgeous and you deserve to be gorgeous! But with the wonderful range and diversity of products and clothes on the market, you can still be gorgeous but also relax in the knowledge that your dazzling beauty is also helping to make the planet a nicer and safer place to live.

Confessions of a Scorpio

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