5 No-Brainer Ways Self Care Products Can be Ethical

I asked myself this question on a recent trip to the grocery store – the only place I venture to nowadays.

While I practice ethical consumerism when updating my wardrobe, I have come to realize that I could definitely be making more of an impact with my some of my more frequent purchases.

Especially since I am more of a thrifter when it come to clothes, my purchasing power is strongest in the bath and self care products I use on the daily.

 

I also do this whole thing I like to call my weekly take-a-break ritual and it’s beneficial for my mind and managing my fibroids. It's a process but I feel like a relaxed queen when I’m done.

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So while I reached for my standard bulk bag of bath salts at the store it occurred to me that I was not putting the same care and concern for who made these products as I did for other purchases.

Where were these salts sourced from? Are the oils used sustainably sourced? Is the price I’m paying fair throughout the supply chain?

(Yes these are the things I think about so it is no wonder I need a regular practice to relax.)

In lieu of buying the same old bag of bath salt I knew nothing about, I took to the internets to find an ethically-sourced-self-care brand to answer this big question.

As I mentioned before, it all depends on what your individual standards are.

At the end of the day I am still a frugal gal who loves a bargain. I have definitely increased my perceived value of products, especially those ethically sourced and fairly made. But I am still a budgeter at heart so I make sure that I vote with every dollar I spend. 

So here are the few parameters I look for when purchasing self care and wellness products. 

5 Ways Self Care Products Can be Ethical

 

Low waste packaging

Who remembers the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” from their school days? It was an easy to recall phrase but harder for many to practice.

It is estimated that only 9.5% of recyclable plastic ever gets to a recycling bin. When looking at where most plastic waste comes from, about 40% is one time use packaging. And the biggest offender for packaging waste is the beauty industry. 

This is why many brands like Lush has committed to low waste packaging for their products.  This includes using paper and other natural products like bamboo or hemp. 

 Bonus points: Zero Waste or Reusable Packaging If low waste is good for the environment, then zero waste is great! Think of bulk shampoo in a local co-op grocery store or glass and stainless steel containers that can easily be reused once they are empty.  I tend towards biodegradable and compostable packaging to contribute to the circular economy when I can. 

Fair wage

If you have read even one of my other posts you know my definition of “ethical” hinges on the fair treatment of everyone in the supply chain, including fair wages. Especially when wanting to purchase products that I consider a luxury to give me peace of mind, it makes me feel that much better when I know it was not made at the expense of others. 

Bonus points: Give Back and Donations It is always nice to see a brand do a little something extra to give back to causes that they support. One of my favorite brands that checks this box is Shea Moisture.

I love that they are fair trade, black owned and provide financial support and resources to small businesses  in the US. 

Social Impact 

I love when brands not only go the extra mile to ensure their products are produced in a way that provides positive economic opportunity, but also allows for communities to thrive. To me this goes beyond donations and leans more on committing to working with producers and artisans that have limited market access and/or inherently improve the communities they work in. 

Bonus points: Minority Owned  I know it has been a trend as of late to support minority owned local businesses. For my hair care products in particular, I have always sought after specifically black owned brands.

I have not however, extended this to most of my purchases until earlier this year once I learned that money frequently circulates out of black communities and is rarely reinvested.

It is a personal commitment I want to make to support more underrepresented communities to ensure everyone has access to wealth in our global economy. 

Environmental Impact

As consumers continue to demand their self care and beauty products be more natural, it has taken a toll on the environment due to over harvesting certain species and excessive mining.

Especially with the essential oil boom in the recent years, it is great to see brands like doTERRA make an effort to educate consumers on over harvesting of plant producing oils while also supporting research to preserve and protect their native environments. 

Bonus points: Carbon Neutral and Offset Initiatives This is where brands make effort to reduce or ‘cancel out’ their carbon emissions throughout their supply chain. There are a wealth of tools for businesses and individuals to offset their carbon usage in many ways that include sourcing products locally to donating to support climate change solutions

Cruelty Free

“Cruelty free” seems to be the most wide spread ethical practice in the beauty and wellness world. The leaping bunny symbol that signifies a product as cruelty free means  a product has not been tested on animals.

Brands that carry products that are not tested on animals usually clearly state it on their website as well as the individual products themselves.

It looks like one of the biggest things to look out for here is that the ingredients as well as the finished product have had no animal testing – this sneaking trick has allowed many brands to jump on the cruelty free band wagon without putting in the work. 

Bonus points: Cruelty Free…For Humans While I wholeheartedly celebrate the cruelty-free movement to protect animals, I was surprised there was no human inclusion in the cruelty-free claim.

Mainly for producing and sourcing ingredients, some mining, farming, or processing practices can be harmful to producers.

Finding brands that commit to safe working conditions for everyone throughout the supply chain will always be a must for self care essentials. 


These are the top parameters I look for, and I haven’t even mentioned ingredients I try to avoid which is a whole other post for the future. 😉

Throughout my search, I found some great options for reducing waste, empowering communities, and protecting the environment. But I did not find anything that truly spoke to all of my seemingly impossible standards.

So ultimately, I decided to start the SHANE self care line that will launch later this month! 

I whole-heartedly believe that all of the above can be accomplished with simple handmade ethically sourced products so I am excited to share what I have been cooking up. 🙂

Did I miss anything that you look for? How do you define ethical self care products?