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The Ugly Face of the Cosmetic Industry

Indian Cosmetic Industry is expected to grow by 25% by the end of 2025
Indian Cosmetic Industry is expected to grow by 25% by the end of 2025

What do you do when you wake up? Well, your skin and body need a “good” morning too. So we suppose, you brush your teeth with a plastic toothbrush, wash your face with “natural extracts” face wash, or use products with labels reading “pure” and “regulated paraben.” In addition to this, you may use a well-scented dermatologist-approved sun-screen based moisturizer followed by your make-up routine. Sounds divine, isn’t it?

Sorry to break it to you, but most personal care and cosmetics impact the environment and your body in a multitude of ways. There is a huge price we pay while we buy these products, risking ourselves and nature.

What are the Damages

  • 70% of the cosmetics end up in landfills, unfinished. Cosmetics and health care product packaging take hundreds of years to break down.

  • A high percentage of cosmetics are discarded in the oceans, the micro bacteria then attach to the plastic and create their ecosystem. This can be an easy conduit for spreading diseases, contaminating different regions that are miles away, and depleting healthy plankton growth. Along with this, toxic chemicals that wash down into drains and open into oceans are causative of aquatic life death. The toxins that reach the soil affect the livestock and lead to reproductive issues, cancers, and genetic defects.

  • The herd mentality of “natural ingredients” by beauty brands is more-often-than-not deceiving. They contain a myriad of toxins and chemical compounds while exploiting large amounts of nature’s resources to make the product seem natural. But they are not optimally utilized to keep prices low. Hence, falling into a vicious cycle of wanting to be eco-friendly yet inexpensive but end up being ostentatious.

  • A plethora of products contains BHA and BHT that cause the death of fish and genetic mutations in amphibians. It is the same effect that UV would have on these organisms. Dioxane kills insects.

  • Uprooting trees for palm oil has led to soil erosion, deforestation, an increase in carbon levels, robbing people and animals of their habitat.

  • Parabens can act like estrogen hormones and disrupt the normal functioning impacting the other hormones, reproductive system, fertility, and increase birth risks.

  • All that glitter isn’t gold, it is microplastic. All the shine and luminescence you see in products can be mica, microplastics which is irresponsibly disposed of and passed on in the food chain. These are smaller than 5mm that are intentionally added as emulsifying agents or as cheap fillers.

  • Health problems - Products can trigger acne, eye infections, and skin allergies being counteractive to their purpose. Formaldehyde causes headaches. Excessive hair spray can cause scalp redness and dandruff. Deodrant gets absorbed into the skin easily and can cause infertility. Most important, breast cancer can be caused by benzene, cadmium, lead, phenacetin, arsenic, etc.

Sustainable Solutions

Shift to organic products, like this bamboo toothbrush
Shift to organic products, like this bamboo toothbrush

3 words - Minimalism, Vegan, and Homemade products!

You can start by keeping a check by ethically purchasing products. Look for products that are acclaimed and certified to have natural extracts and are not tested on animals (no animal brutality!). In India, some certifications are Ecocert, Cosmos, etc. Choose brands that have minimal or bio-degradable packaging and have an environmental policy. Vegan products can be slightly high on the price, but it is time to change with the times. The most eco-sensitive and cost-effective strategy is to make products at home!

A special mention to Covid-19 that has created a steep decline in the cosmetic industry and the use of makeup daily. People have begun to embrace themselves as they are and are comfortable in their skin. Cosmetic industries might not be doing well, but the people have touched a new peak of confidence!

Author: Khyati Arora

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