When a brand has words like “earth,” “nature,” or “planet” in their name, they need to be held to the highest standards for environmental stewardship. Their name itself tells consumers that they emphasize sustainability before all else, and to not act to their fullest potential is effectively lying to their market. So while Love Beauty and Planet does have some notable initiatives, such as their recycled bottles and internal carbon tax incentives, I feel that they need to provide more details and information in order to live up to their name. Furthermore, their name might preach love, but they provide no indication that they love their employees or other stakeholders, and that lack of information is concerning.
It is important to mention, however, that their products sell at a competitive rate. Depending on the retailer, a 13.5oz bottle typically sells for $6-9.00, which is in the same range of plenty of other brands. Love Beauty and Planet might not be a perfectly sustainable brand, but they are better than many of their competitors at that price point, and provides the average consumer a more sustainable option.
Overall, I rate Love Beauty and Planet’s Murumuru Butter and Rose Sulfate-Free Shampoo a 1.75/3. By no means is it a bad product and I appreciate its accessibility, but it and its brand have a long way to go before achieving their potential, and much of that could be accomplished by increasing transparency.
What I appreciated instantly from Love Beauty and Planet was their transparency about their ingredients, as well as their purposes in the product. I’ll spare the details of every ingredient and its important impact, and rather share what I found to be the most significant. The two primary ingredients are water and cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)—a biodegradable surfactant derived from coconut oil that is used in tons of body and hygiene products to create a cleansing lather. It is a frequent substitute for sulfates, which are notorious in haircare for leaching natural oils, and this shampoo is sulfate-free. CAPB is thought to be a mild chemical that doesn’t persist in environments for long, compared to sodium-lauryl sulfates that are toxic to aquatic environments. Coconut oil, however, has harmful environmental impacts as well, especially regarding tropical biodiversity, sparking a recent debate on if it might actually be worse than palm oil. This is important to mention since coconut oil is another ingredient in the shampoo. Essentially, harvesting coconuts is not dangerous, but mass production and deforestation is. Whether CAPB is a beneficial chemical or a net neutral compared to sulfates ultimately depends on how it has been sourced.
Another unfamiliar but notable ingredient is murumuru butter, which is sourced from seeds of a fruit from Amazonian palm trees. Murumuru butter seems to be a fairly new product, and I don’t think there’s been a lot of research on the ecological impacts of how it’s sourced. On one hand, this means there are no glaring red flags, but not enough research to confidently say that it’s good. Other ingredients in this shampoo are fairly unexciting and harmless, which is great. The shampoo is also vegan and cruelty free, meaning that there has been no animal testing in this process. It is also free of silicones and dyes, both of which are not biodegradable or toxic.
Overall, I rate the shampoo ingredients a 2/3. There are no strikingly dangerous chemicals compared to competing shampoos and the product is vegan, but I would love to see more information on how and where these ingredients are sourced.
Love Beauty and Planet exceptional transparency ends with their ingredient list itself. There is hardly any information on where their ingredients and materials are sourced, processed, or distributed from. This was disappointing compared to the easy information about what goes into their shampoos. What they do describe is that 93% of their ingredients are naturally derived, which the define as being unchanged from their natural state, or maintain at least 50% of its original natural structure and composition. This reflects that their production is not overly processed, but still provides minimal insight into what that production actually looks like.
What I believe to be their greatest initiative is in their packaging. Love Beauty and Planet has a goal is to use 100% recycled plastic by the end of 2021. As of 2019, they had already switched to using 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic for their shampoo and conditioner bottles, and are currently developing caps and pumps using recycled materials. Too many companies package their “sustainable product” inside a brand-new plastic bottle, so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see a brand dedicated to using recycled materials. Again, there are no details on where they buy their plastic from, where it is processed, and the carbon emissions from its production.
In 2020, they launched an initiative to develop concentrates that would make the shampoo formulas more water efficient, saving up to 50% of water in the shampoo itself. This means there is a higher concentration of product in each bottle, and can even be packaged more compactly with less plastic. So far this alternative product exists only for the murumuru butter and rose shampoo and conditioner, and the Indian lilac and clove leaf duo.
Altogether, I rate this section a 1.75/3. They have some really exciting initiatives, but again, their lack of details is rather concerning.
This is where Love Beauty and Planet falls apart. The most detail they provide is that their suppliers abide by the Unilever Responsible Sourcing Policy, as Unilever is their parent company. This policy entails that all workers are an “appropriate age” (they list that age to be 15 years old), paid fair wages, provided reasonable hours, and are employed voluntarily. Worker’s and indigenous rights are also to be respected, and the business must “embrace sustainability.” These are very vague requirements, and with no other information on where Love Beauty and Planet obtains their materials, I have no idea what practices are actually happening.
There is nothing inherently wrong about Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy, but even if it is being properly enforced, these practices still feel like the absolute bare minimum. That is, of course, better than doing nothing at all, but still nothing to applaud. For that, I rate the brand a .25/3 in this category.