With the trend for sustainable skincare on the rise, terms like ‘eco friendly’ ‘naturally derived, ‘plant based’ and ‘clean beauty’ are increasingly being used to market consumable products. But with very little regulation around claims made in the personal care industry, consumers can easily be misled by vague terminology and green washed brands.
The conscious choice condundrum
Consumers wishing to make conscious choices would do well to look closely at product labels and claims. For example, a product may claim to be SLS-free while containing SDS. These two ingredients (sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium dodecyl sulfate) are actually chemically identical. Similarly, ALS (ammonium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium lauryl ether sulfate) are often substituted for SLS by brands wanting to market themselves as SLS-free. The key is to look for products that are free from all sulfates, not just SLS.
In the same vein, brands may claim that their products are 100% naturally-derived despite them containing laboratory-made ingredients like PEGs (petroleum-based compounds). This is because, technically, every substance on the planet first comes from nature before it is processed into something else. Petroleum may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it is the best option for use on human skin.
From a wholistic perspective, brands may claim their plastic packaging is ‘eco-friendly’ because it is recyclable. What that doesn’t take into account is the environmentally-taxing processes involved in manufacturing and recycling plastic, or the fact that plastic has a limited recycling lifespan before it is committed to landfill where it will never degrade.
True sustainability and clean processes are about more than branding buzzwords or tweaking existing practices to give the impression of integrity.
Meet ÅRHUS, a collection of ethical hand care products formulated with certified organics and housed in reusable glass vessels
The WØRKS difference
At WØRKS we’re committed to operating with integrity and transparency. We take a universal approach to human health and the health of our natural ecosystems - from sourcing raw materials to formulating, packaging and shipping our products. Here’s how we’re keeping our skin (and conscience) clean and our footprint minimal.
All of our products are formulated with a high percentage of certified organic ingredients that are selected for their skin synergy, proven efficacy and biocompatibility. Certified organic means that the raw materials we use have been grown and harvested sustainably. No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are permitted in the growing of certified organic crops, which ensures both the health and wellbeing of our clients and the integrity of the crops, the environmental impact of their farming and the longterm sustainability of the land.
Every WØRKS product is free from ingredients that have be shown or suspected to harm human health. That includes synthetics, dyes, parabens, all sulfates (SLS, SDS, ALS, SLES), phthalates, petrochemicals, silicones, PEGS, mineral oils and talcs.
Our formulations are vegan and cruelty free. We don’t use animal-derived materials, test on animals or use ingredients that have been tested on animals. We don’t support animal-exploitative industries, products or process, such as palm oil and beeswax.
Our products are biodegradable and grey water safe, which ensures that harsh surfactants and chemicals don’t enter local waterways or surrounding environments when they flow down the sink.
We manufacture every product in Melbourne. By keeping the physical distances in our supply chain short, we reduce the carbon emissions associated with the transport of goods.
We support fair trade practices and products. Fair trade ensures that marginalised communities are treated with dignity and respect, provided access to education, guaranteed secure prices for their crops, and protected from unlawful child labour, gender discrimination and violence.
We work with couriers that offset the carbon related to the shipping of our products. This process is executed via a carbon credit system whereby the amount of carbon generated from every delivery is calculated, then offset by way of tree planting, habitat building and other environmental restoration.
Every WØRKS formulation is housed in a reusable amber glass vessel selected for its environmental properties, aesthetic appeal, and ability to protect the organic ingredients within from UV light.
Glass can be safely sterilised, refilled, repurposed and recycled in perpetuity, making it the most sustainable option for personal care packaging. Conversely, plastic cannot be heat-sterilised for reuse, and it has a recycling lifespan limited to 7-8 cycles before it must be committed to landfill. Further, glass manufacture doesn’t rely on petroleum and it poses no risk of harming wildlife and natural ecosystems if disposed of incorrectly, unlike plastic.
Supporting ethical brands
With competition in the cosmetic and personal care space stronger than ever - and the lack of governance in the industry making it more difficult to spot the difference between legitimate brand claims and green washing - it’s not easy for consumers to make informed and conscious choices.
Those wanting to opt for products that are better for their own health and the heath of the environment should keep a close eye on product labels and ingredients lists to avoid supporting brands that green wash their products in the name of economic self-interest.