Sep 30, 2020

The Ugly Truth of the Beauty Industry

Matthew Mann

he beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar cash machine, there’s no denying that. The latest estimate on its value is in excess of $532 billion and still growing. This includes cosmetics, fashion, fragrances, and the like. With a total of nearly a quarter of a million dollars spent in a lifetime in this industry, it’s no wonder that the beauty industry is making big bucks.

With A-list celebrity endorsements, unlimited marketing budgets, and constantly dictating trends there is no wonder this industry is so lucrative. Behind the scenes, however, this industry is riddled with numerous ugly truths that many people seem to brush off.

The Industry Impact on Society

The beauty industry is one that we are all familiar with. You’ve seen the commercials, the endorsements, the posters, the celebrities, but how many people out there stop and think about the impact on our society this industry has.

On one hand, you have the silver lining, which is the celebration of youth, self-expression, and beauty itself. Fair enough. However, on the other hand, you have an industry that has been known to exploit child labor, use harmful chemicals in their products, and causing anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and low-confidence in many women. Men too are also affected by the industry in the same ways never quite living up to the ideal put forth by the beauty industry as a whole. One would think that fewer and fewer people would be pouring their hard-earned cash into this industry but it seems nothing can stop the growth of this industry.

Insecurities into Profit

There’s no doubt that wanting to look better can soothe many insecurities. From the slightest blemish to the largest, if there is a way to fix the issue many people would pay for it, and that’s exactly what we find. Many people, both men, and women won’t leave the house without looking their best. While for many this may simply be a matter of preference there are those who simply cannot leave without putting on their face, which is great news for those who are selling what these people need to feel their best and not so great for those stuck in this dilemma.

The problem gets even worse when children, not even teenagers, are putting themselves into this problem. A study has revealed that girls as young 12 won’t leave the house without first doing their makeup. The psychological implication of this kind of problem are incredibly worrying and can have a lasting negative impact that only a psychiatrist or lots of self-work can only undo. 

The Ugly Stuff

Many people would be wrong in thinking that their personal use of beauty products bares no real impact on their health or the health of the planet. While your daily routine of getting ready might make you look and feel better about yourself there are some serious impacts that some might not be aware of or straight up ignore.

Palm oil production is a massive problem and is a common ingredient found in many cosmetics like lipstick as well as shampoo and moisturizers. The harvest of palm oil has decimated entire ecosystems in places like Indonesia and Malaysia where 85% of the world’s supply of palm oil comes from due to clear-cutting for palm plantations. Much of these regions are home to a number of endangered species.

Palm oil manufacturing has led to countless conflicts between communities, native tribes, and the companies vying for the land. Working conditions are also a nightmare for many of the laborers of these plantations. Child laborers, who often receive little or no pay whatsoever are forced to work in extremely poor conditions putting in long hours and facing exposure to dangerous chemicals in the process. Current estimates peg the child labor force in Malaysia to be between 72,000 and 200,000 children.

The textile industry is also replete with issues as well. In the UK alone over 350,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfills each year. It’s also widely known that the textile industry working conditions are absolutely terrible in places like India and China. Exposure to toxic chemicals, noise, cotton particulates in the air, and dangers like fires has led to a massive backlash against the textile industry.

Live and Learn

The good thing about getting older is that you learn what matters and what doesn’t. In the grand scheme of things, the wrong shade of eye shadow, those few extra pounds, or those pants you never bought really doesn’t matter. Obsessing about your appearance is narcissistic, vain, and unattractive. Not to mention the harm the industry brings to the world at large. Consider the impact your personal shopping habits have on the world at large. 

How many people’s lives are affected when the end result is your purchase of a product? Are there changes you can make to still enjoy the freedom of self-expression and beauty without hurting the world?

A Natural Alternative

There are plenty of companies who have heard the call to create ethically sourced products that are safe for the consumer, manufacturer, and the world. Even better are stores, salons, and movements embracing these companies and who recognize the negative impact this industry is having on the planet and are doing something about it. 

When it comes to taking care of the environment and yourself there are no shortage of ethical options out there. Below are a few of our favorites!

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