Briogeo is a black-owned, naturally- derived hair care brand that emphasizes the importance of clean ingredients, transparency, and diversity. Their commitment to clean ingredients is seen directly in the name “Briogeo” with “Brio” meaning full of life, and “Geo” meaning earth and nature. The brand’s blog posts emphasize mindful living and the importantance of natural ingredients. The founder of the company, Nancy Twine, created an “Our Story” section, addressing her knowledge of natural hair care and why she started the company in the first place. These meaningful little touches to the website creates a strong community and fosters trust between the brand and the consumers. As someone who personally uses this brand, I was immediately drawn to their inclusivity, creating products for all different hair types, which I believe is a crucial aspect for sustainability. How can we encourage consumers to shop sustainably when brands exclude a whole part of the population from using their products? Along with inclusivity, they are very transparent about what goes into their products, with the percentage of naturally derived ingredients clearly stated on the back of the bottle and what natural source those ingredients are derived from. These products are definitely on the pricier end of hair care (the price of Scalp Revival charcoal shampoo is 42$, not including tax and shipping), but you are certainly getting the quality and sustainability that comes with that price.
Overall, Briogeo has made some strong efforts to be a more sustainable brand compared to other hair care lines, but they could do better. I admire that the brand is dedicated to transparency, but it looks like that transparency only comes into play when informing consumers about the ingredients in their products, and not about how they’re made or who makes them. As the brand is centered around natural ingredients and an eco-friendly lifestyle, I would like to see more initiative to become more sustainable and more transparent about their products. However, Briogeo does have an email in which consumers can send product recommendations, feedback, and criticisms- meaning they are definitely willing to listen to consumers and make changes in order to become a better, more sustainable, and more transparent company.
Briogeo is committed to their 6-free clean methodology, excluding harsh sulfates, silicones, phthalates, parabens, DEA, and artificial dyes from all of their products. Along with the exclusion of those products, each of their products are 90-100% naturally derived, vegan, and cruelty free (Leaping Bunny certification). This shampoo specifically is 98% naturally derived. When I first saw this, I asked myself, where do the other 2% of ingredients come from? Luckily, the company explains this in their FAQ section, stating that the non-natural ingredients are used to “ensure shelf life, product efficacy, and product stability.” They also state that these non-natural ingredients are deemed safe by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their preservatives are Ecocert certified. Looking at the EWG website, I was a bit concerned when I saw most of their products were around the 4-5 range on the website, with this shampoo being 4, as I was expecting the score to be around 1-2. However, further exploring led me to discover that this score mainly comes from using fragrance (parfum), which is known cause irritation and disrupt the reproductive and endocrine system. They also include ingredients such as tea tree oil and peppermint oil, which while naturally derived and not harmful to the environment, are relatively common allergens. So if you have sensitive skin, this may not be the product for you. While the company definitely needs to continue looking for more sustainable ingredients to replace the harmful fragrance used, Briogeo’s dedication to transparency allows consumers to know exactly what they are using.
Another aspect to consider is their packaging. The brand claims that all of their bottles contain at least 25% post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, and all of their packaging is recyclable. I definitely think they could do a lot better here in terms of sustainability by purposefully looking for better materials in which to package their products. I would like to see the company approach their packaging in the same way they approach the ingredients they use as they are equally important in terms of sustainability.
In the FAQ section of the website, the company states that all of their products are formulated and manufactured in the United States, however, I could not find much information besides this regarding how the charcoal shampoo (or any of their other products) is specifically made.
Briogeo does have a post on their blog (which is linked on the website) about fair trade. In the article, they state that a different product they make, the B. Well Organic + Cold-Pressed 100% Castor Oil, is fair trade certified and ethically sourced from India. A fair trade certification ensures fair wages and ethical working conditions for the workers. Briogeo goes on to state “ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients mean a lot to us, even if it costs more.” While this statement is meaningful, I was not able to find any information about the sources for their other products. Briogeo seems to pride itself on their transparency and they clearly state that sustainability and ethically is important to them, so I would like to see this transfer over to all of their products, not just one.
Once again, there was not very much information about who makes their products on the Briogeo website. In their blog post about the fair trade certification of their B. Well Organic + Cold-Pressed 100% Castor Oil, Briogeo states “we believe that a fair wage and good working conditions are not privileges but are necessities,” insinuating that fair treatment of workers is important to them. However, they do not give any more information about who makes their other products. A simple statement saying the brand believes in the ethical treatment of workers is not enough. I would definitely like to see Briogeo disclose more about how, and who, makes their products.