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Greenwashing, Clean Beauty, All Natural: Here’s a Glossary for Sustainable Skincare

Greenwashing, Clean Beauty, All Natural: Here’s a Glossary for Sustainable Skincare

Even though we hate to admit it, beauty products (and packaging) are a huge producer of waste in this world. In fact, according to Forbes, more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced globally every year by the cosmetics industry, contributing to the loss of 18 million acres of forest annually. Many products are also tested on animals, As horrible as this is, there are brands out there that are making a change for the better. For example, the brand Plus has created a product that’s 100% zero waste! The packaging dissolves in the sink. But changing the beauty industry starts with knowledge. That’s why we’ve created a glossary of sustainable skincare terms for you to use next time you want to introduce a new product into your skincare routine. Keep reading for more!

via Zeng Wu


These are products with ingredients that have not been tested on animals at any stage in their development. They could still be made with animal products though, there is a difference.


There are products that do not contain any animal ingredients, whatsoever.


Non-toxic products are those that do not contain any manufactured herbicides, artificial fertilizers, GMOs, parabens, preservatives, or any other toxic ingredients.

Palm oil free

These products do not contain palm oil or any of its derivatives. Palm oil is environmentally devastating and is responsible for the devastation of rain forests and the animals that live in the natural environment there.

Zero waste

Zero waste products are fully sustainable and produce no waste, from the packaging to the delivery of the product. These are very rare.

Thoughtful packaging

This is when brands use compostable or reusable packaging. There are also brands that allow you to reuse your existing packaging as well. Other brands may use highly recyclable packaging like glass or aluminum.

Ethical sourcing

This means that the ingredients used to create the product were ethically sourced. The brand knows what it’s manufacturer and supply chain looks like, how their employees are treated, and make sure that products are fair trade.

Clean beauty

Clean beauty products are created without ingredients shown or suspected to harm the health of humans.


All-natural products are technically made with natural products, but this industry standard is completely unregulated. According to Harper’s Baazar, a product can be labeled as natural and contain up to 30% synthetic ingredients.


Greenwashing is when a company conveys or provides misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally safe. It is deception or a lie about the product.

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