How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products


Sustainable skincare has seen an increase in popularity in recent years as the impacts of the climate crisis move into more mainstream media and people look for ways to do their part. This has meant an increase in demand for brands to make their skincare lines more ethical.

Sustainable skincare is a great opportunity for skincare and beauty brands for a few reasons. To begin with, making your skincare more sustainable can help to reduce the negative impact your brand has on the environment and increase your corporate responsibility. Sustainability in your skincare will also bring in a new, more eco-conscious client and help to boost sales to a wider demographic.

In this article, we're going to take a look at sustainability in skincare, what it means, and how you can choose sustainable ingredients for your skincare products. To find out more, read on now.

How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products

What Does Sustainability Mean In Skincare?

So, what does sustainability actually mean for skincare?

Sustainable skincare products are products that meet our beauty and skincare needs without having a negative impact on the environment. It means supporting brands that are actively trying to reduce their negative impacts on the planet.

Sustainability in skincare can be difficult to monitor due to the number of unregulated terms used by beauty brands. Terms like 'green,' 'sustainable,' and 'naturally produced,' remain completely unregulated which means brands can use them without any proof that they are true. This is called greenwashing and can contribute to further damaging consequences for the environment.

Skincare that is truly sustainable will usually have accreditation which proves this and will also be working across a number of areas to ensure that they are not harming the planet further with their activities.

What Makes Skincare Sustainable?

There is a number of factors that makes skincare more sustainable. These include:

  • Environmental factors - These can come in the form of accreditation like the Soil Association or an Organic certification. It may also appear in the form of palm oil-free ingredients that help to prevent deforestation, non-toxic ingredients, packaging that can be recycled or will biodegrade, and proper waste management.
  • Animal welfare - Products that support animal welfare are usually certified cruelty-free and vegan.
  • Ethics - This relates to the human side of skincare production. Products may be Fair Trade, or the brands could give to charities, or they may have complete transparency in their supply chain.
  • Health - This is usually regarding the skincare ingredients and ensures that they are not harming the people using them. Ingredients should have undergone rigorous product testing to ensure their efficacy and safety.


How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products

How Can Skincare Ingredients Be Sustainable?

So, how can you ensure that your skincare ingredients are actually sustainable and not doing harm to the planet? There are a few different ways you can do this and we've taken a look at them below.

Locally sourced

Where possible, source your ingredients locally. This will give you the opportunity to ensure that workers are being paid fairly and you know exactly where it is coming from. You may also want to source organic compounds, if possible.

Research exotic ingredients

When sourcing locally isn't an option, like for ingredients that are not grown or produced in your country, you need to ensure your research is rigorous. Find out where the ingredients are coming from, who is growing them, and if these producers comply with ethical standards.

Try to source from the ingredients' country of origin when you can so that you are not going through a middle man.

Resellers and retailers

When it comes to sourcing from resellers and retailers, this is when your research needs to be impeccable. As you're not getting direct from the producers, you need to find out as much as possible about the ingredient before you purchase.

Look for accreditation

Just like your consumers should be looking for your accreditation, you should be hunting for the same certification in your ingredients. If you want your skincare products to be organic then you need to find certified organic ingredients to use.

Buy in bulk

When it is possible, buying in bulk is always better for the planet. It means less packaging to get rid of, fewer shipping journeys to reduce your carbon footprint, and can keep you stocked up too.


If you're using sustainable and ethical ingredients, tell your customers. Educating consumers on the importance of good ethical practice is good for the environment and good for your business!

How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products

Naturally Occurring Ingredients That Are Good For Your Skin

Natural ingredients are more likely to be sustainable as they are naturally produced, meaning nothing synthetic goes into them. There are some naturally occurring ingredients that are better for skin than others. Take a look below to find out more.

Beta carotene

Beta carotene naturally occurs in a range of vegetables and is a good ingredient for your skin. It is thought to protect skin cells from sun damage and comes with antioxidant properties that help to fight off visible signs of aging.

Green tea extract

As a drink, green tea is known for its antioxidant properties and these properties also make it a great ingredient for skincare. With protection from UV damage, anti-aging properties, and anti-inflammatory properties, green tea is the ultimate soothing agent.

Liquorice extract

Liquorice extract is thought a good ingredient for skincare that is designed to reduce redness. It is anti-inflammatory in nature and is a good choice for skincare suited to sensitive skin types.


Oats are perfect for treating skin irritation and are commonly found in skincare products that treat dry skin and skin conditions like eczema. They're a soothing ingredient to add to your skincare products.


Soy is commonly found in skincare that helps to brighten the skin and even out skin tone. It also has anti-aging properties in the form of antioxidants which help to fight damage caused by oxidative stress.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C and vitamin C derivatives (like L-ascorbic acid) are known for their incredible anti-aging properties. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to protect the skin from free radical damage. It brightens dull skin and helps to promote collagen synthesis, making the skin plumper and firmer.

Willowherb extract

Willowherb extract is an antimicrobial, anti-irritant, and naturally occurring antispetic ingredient to add to your skincare. It is also a particularly useful ingredient in skincare focused on skin hydration as it is a natural moisturiser.

What Skincare Ingredients Are Not Eco-Friendly?

While there are plenty of great skincare ingredients that do wonders for your skin and don't damage the environment, there are some that are actually really harmful to the planet. Some have been banned in certain regions, others haven't, but we recommend avoiding them in your skincare products.

These ingredients include:

  • Oxybenzone - Commonly found in sunscreen and products with an SPF rating, this ingredient has actually been banned in multiple countries due to its part in coral bleaching.
  • Parabens - Used as preservatives, parabens have been found in the tissue of a range of aquatic animals and are considered a dangerous ingredient for the environment.
  • Fragrance - Strong fragrances in skincare are a big no-no anyway, but especially when you find out that fragrance chemicals have begun to appear in waterways and are known to damage marine life.
  • Sulphates - Usually found in the form of SLS, a foaming agent, this is another ingredient to avoid. Sulphates are thought to be another damaging ingredient for marine life.
  • Microplastics - Those tiny beads in exfoliators have been banned in a number of countries for a while because of the damage to marine and bird life they cause. Opt instead for chemical exfoliators like alpha-hydroxy acids (like lactic acid and glycolic acid) and beta hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid) to remove dead skin cells and reduce clogged pores.

Sustainable Ingredients To Start With In Your Products

How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products

Now, where to start?

When it comes to the best ingredients for sustainable skincare products, there are a few ingredients that you can start with to test the waters. These include:

  • Fatty acids - Including ingredients like coconut fatty acids and oleic acid, fatty acids are great sustainable ingredients to include in moisturisers, lotions, and soaps.
  • Castor oil - Commonly used in hair care products, castor oil can also be used in skincare. It is a good choice for oily skin and acne-prone skin as it has anti-microbial properties to battle blemishes and blackheads. It may also have anti-aging properties.
  • MCT coconut oil - Medium-chain fatty acids are commonly found in coconut oil and are great for your skin. This ingredient is easily absorbed by the skin, is great for sensitive skin, and doesn't leave behind an oily residue.

Other Environmentally-Friendly Ingredients To Try

Once you've begun your foray into sustainable skincare ingredients, you're unlikely to want to stop. Below, we've listed a few great choices for other ingredients to try.

Rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is a great choice for retaining the moisture in the skin cells. It is used in cosmetics to keep the skin hydrated and soothe dry skin. It is high in fatty acids and antioxidants, making it perfect to replenish the skin.


Considered a bit of a wonder in skincare these days, retinol is found naturally in a huge variety of places. It is an essential anti-aging ingredient and exfoliates the skin to remove dead skin cells, making it a good choice for acne-prone skin too.

Shea butter

Shea butter is highly moisturising and works with the skin's natural oils to seal in hydration. It is a very good choice for sensitive skin as well as non-sensitive dry skin types.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is a good ingredient for all skin types. Yes, even oily skin! It is hydrating and healing and helps to regulate sebum production on the skin's surface. It may also be a good choice for regenerative skin care.

Argan oil

Argan oil contains vitamin E and fatty acids, making it a good choice for clearing acne breakouts and reducing inflammation of the skin. It is also an oil that is suitable for all skin types too.


Ceramides are the ultimate ingredient to add to any product designed to repair the skin's barrier function. Skin barrier products have gained massive popularity recently, making them a good choice for a sustainable new product!

A note on sustainable ingredients

While all of the above are considered sustainable ingredients, research is always needed to ensure that the sourcing and production of the ingredients are ethical to ensure you're truly hitting the mark.

Many active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid, all very popular in skincare regimes, can be found naturally and can be sourced sustainably, it's just about finding the right manufacturer.

How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products

Why Produce Sustainable Skincare ingredients?

Producing sustainable ingredients isn't a must, but it does come with quite a few advantages for your brand.

Firstly, you will enhance the quality of your products. Sustainable skincare ingredients are also non-toxic ingredients, meaning they're not inadvertently harming your customers or the planet.

Secondly, your brand reputation and credibility will be enhanced by the care you take over sourcing and making your ingredients. Kindness goes a long way, especially in the skincare industry, and making your brand's focus kindness to the planet can help people want to buy from you.

Lastly, using sustainable ingredients will increase your corporate responsibility. The more you know about where your products are coming from, the more you can ensure you're not having a negative impact on the planet.

Conclusion: How To Choose Sustainable Skincare Ingredients For Your Products

Choosing sustainable ingredients for your skincare line means looking into a whole range of areas regarding the ingredient. You need to ask questions of your suppliers, look for accreditation, and think about how each ingredient will impact your customers and the planet.

Sustainable skincare isn't easy, but it does come with lots of advantages for your brand and for the planet.

If you're looking for a way to create custom sustainable skincare for your brand, check out our custom formulations page today.