GLOWBIOTICS seems, overall, like a pretty classic high-end, natural beauty brand. Their main focus is eliminating the harmful chemicals that often reside in cosmetics while still providing a high quality product, and they definitely do that well; their ingredient list is free of parabens, sulfates, and the other high-profile harmful ingredients in conventional cosmetics products. However, in terms of sustainability, they’re not doing as well as they could be, especially for such a high price point, since price is often the limiting factor when it comes to environmental progress. Sustainability isn’t something even mentioned on their website, and this is reflected at the product level.
The HydraGlow Cream Oil is free of sulfates and parabens and offers many natural alternatives to the synthetic chemicals abundant in conventional skincare formulations. For the few non-natural ingredients, they are making progress in reformulation, which is their main focus, and their ingredients are overwhelmingly safe. However, one ingredient, “Alcohol Denat.” is of tiny concern, as the phrase is an umbrella term for alcohols that have been denatured so that they are undrinkable; it is unclear which alcohols are present in the product, and some denatured alcohols tend to promote water loss in the skin or may potentially cause breakouts for those with sensitive or dry skin. Certain denatured alcohols are not reviewed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) expert panel, which works with the FDA to assess the safety of cosmetic ingredients, and while I doubt GLOWBIOTICS would sneak something harmful into their formulation, I have no way of knowing. Moving on to packaging, sustainability seems to be the last priority. While the cardboard box is recyclable, the rest of the product packaging is largely non-recyclable plastic, and it is shipped with bubble wrap which cannot be conventionally recycled (meaning, it can’t go in your recycling bin - it has to be dropped off at specific recycling points). Additionally, information on the product packaging cannot be found on the website. Packaging brings them down quite a bit in this section.
There is not much information on their website regarding how this product - or any product, or the packaging - is made, so all of the information in this section is from what the brand has communicated to us privately. They try to reuse the packaging types for different products, when possible, so that the factory (which is in China, for their packaging) isn’t making multiple different models. Other than that, there seems to be little intentionality with shipping/manufacturing decisions outside of pure cost; this is understandable for a smaller business, but for a brand so focused on human health, they should be aware of the health effects of unsustainable packaging, such as plastic toxicity in landfills and the pollution associated with plastic production. In terms of the product formulation itself, I have no clue how the ingredients are sourced or created, other than a pretty technical scientific explanation of their use of DNA microarray assay technology to clinically validate their products. Lack of information and intentionality in design are the main reasons for a low score here.
GLOWBIOTICS central mission is to help women feel good about what they put on their skin so that they can be more confident, and they are “100% committed” to clean and safe ingredients. The company was borne out of co-founder Christine Watson’s search for safe skincare as a 2-time cancer survivor. They continue their empowerment mission through donating 1% of their website sales to mental health charities to fight stigma surrounding mental illness. This is a great initiative, especially in the context of the beauty industry often damaging people’s mental health. However, other aspects of the company are less conducive to this mission, specifically as apparent in their brand application. Little attention was given to our questions on accessibility and inequality, yet the brand is pretty expensive, and it caters specifically to women (the only gender to use skincare?). Additionally, when asked about how they organize for sustainability, they explained that their main focus is to grow as a small company and to build community; sustainability seems to not be a priority at all, and the idea that companies should focus on growth first and then backtrack to sustainability is largely what has gotten us into the unsustainable situation our society is in now. This brand is overall a good brand, but it just doesn’t seem that sustainable; in other words, if every brand followed their model, we wouldn’t be making progress on environmental issues.