Tik Tok influencer, Addison Rae, broke her way into the cosmetic scene in August of 2020 with her own beauty line, Item Beauty. With 82.8 million followers on Tik Tok, the company seems to be popular among her fans and beauty gurus around the world. Addison writes she created Item Beauty with the goal to help their customers feel like their best versions of themselves. The beauty line offers many cosmetic products for the face, eyes, lips, and more along with a skin care line. Item Beauty makes a lot of promises to their customers- sustainability, vegan, cruelty free- which highlights the company in a positive way. However, the company lacks transparency and does not provide sufficient evidence to support all their claims. It appears that the company is trying to maybe make some environmental changes, but the majority is just greenwashing attempts.
Item Beauty has no claim anywhere on their website that any of their packaging or products are recyclable and have no mention of trying to switch their products to become so. On their parent company’s website, BFA industries, it says that they have sustainable packaging and that they are working to eliminate 100% of their virgin plastic waste within the next 10 years. However, they do not state how their packaging is sustainable currently, and it would be nice to see a further explanation. It is great Item Beauty is making plans to reduce its virgin plastic use, however right now a lot of their products contain small plastic parts that will not biodegrade when thrown away. I would love to see Item Beauty make an initiative to make more of their products and packaging recyclable and to be more transparent with their current efforts right now instead of plans for the future.
Looking at the ingredients in their products, Item Beauty claims that all their products are cruelty free, paraben free, talc free, and phthalate free. The company does offer a full list of ingredients on the website, but a closer examination of these reveals some problems. Many products contain titanium dioxide and perfumes. These additives are one of the many chemicals banned in Great Britain and are on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Red List. Titanium dioxide is a possible carcinogen of small nanoparticles that can easily disperse into the environment with unknown effects. Perfumes mess with hormone systems and can bioaccumulate over time. Their small size allows them to be easily transported, especially through water, which makes them problematic. BFA does implement the BFA Clean Standard that created “The Out List” which lists numerous harmful chemicals that BFA will ban from their products by 2022 to reduce health and environmental effects. They also have some restrictions on fragrances which is a step in the right direction. It also states that BFA works to help educate consumers on over 1,800 ingredients to be mindful of. So, it is apparent that Item Beauty has taken steps to create clean and safe products. Additionally, Item Beauty advertises that their ingredients are sustainably sourced when possible and sometimes organic and vegan. It is great that Item Beauty has made a step to be more environmentally conscious. However, the main problem is Item Beauty does not disclose how they sustainably source these ingredients. I wish they would explain their efforts to the public instead of just offering an empty claim of sustainability without a lot of evidence. It also makes me skeptical that they do sustainably source or on what scale they actually do it on- not enough to mention on their website.
Item Beauty complies with The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 by providing a brief section of how they do not condone slavery, child labor, and human trafficking anywhere along their lines of supply. Item Beauty makes sure all their manufacturers, vendors, and suppliers follow all United States and other international laws surrounding labor. Also, they reserve the right to audit each manufacturing location and claims to frequently audit them. While it is great that Item Beauty explicitly states that they do not condone violations of labor laws, the information they present to the public is vague and lacking. They offer no support to their claims of auditing manufacturers or exactly what standard they are being upheld to. Simply saying you condone something, does not solve the problem and Item Beauty needs to disclose exactly what they are doing or rather, not doing. Also, there is no information on where the products are manufactured or where their ingredients are supplied from. The company that owns Item Beauty, BFA, offers no insight to where or how anything is manufactured. If they are getting their materials and are manufacturing in different parts of the world, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from all this transportation would be important to consider. Sadly, the company does not provide any of this information. The company page claims to be sustainable, but again offers little explanation to what they are currently doing. Therefore, there is no way to check or uphold them to the standards they say they have. Additionally, Item Beauty mentions they do provide training in ethics and treatments of others but not in human trafficking or slavery. It would be nice to see Item Beauty expand their educational programs to their employees. In general, Item Beauty’s policy surrounding labor and manufacturing seems like the bare minimum required by law and they could and should be doing a lot more.
Overall, Item Beauty puts on a strong front to seem like an ethical company with claims of sustainability and safe labor. However, the fact that the company actually enforces these values at all or to a measurable degree, is questionable. The lack of details surrounding these issues makes the company very suspicious- if they were actually being sustainable, why not explain how? To me, this is saying that Item Beauty is just trying to build a facade as a company that cares and is proactive, when really they do not act enough to make a significant difference. One can appreciate the fact that Item Beauty at least seems to make an effort and is aware of these social and environmental problems. BFA has made strides in working to increase diversity in the cosmetic’s industry by committing to invest over $17 million in over 20 Black-owned brands. However, most of their bigger claims seem like empty promises and the advertising as sustainable, cruelty free, and vegan appear as greenwashing attempts. I hope in the future Item Beauty will be able to provide more concrete evidence to support these claims and be more transparent because I do think they have started on the right path.