I recently read an article by The Associated Press, regarding the amount of toxic chemicals that are found in makeup. I was shocked to learn that more than half of the cosmetics sold in the U.S contain high levels of toxins that are linked to serious health conditions. This got me thinking...what’s in the makeup products that I use? Is it made from natural ingredients? Is it made sustainably? To further explore these questions, I decided to zoom into a product that I use on a daily basis: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer. After researching the company, NARS, I found that although steps are being made in the right direction towards sustainability, NARS has not yet reached the point of being called a sustainable company. There are many alternative makeup companies that are much more sustainably produced and use natural ingredients. I will definitely look into these more sustainable companies when purchasing my next bottle of tinted moisturizer, and I encourage consumers to do so as well.
From researching the company, I learned that NARS products are not vegan. According to the NARS website, they are continually evaluating alternatives to animal-derived ingredients, however some products may contain animal derivatives. Furthermore, while researching the ingredients found in the NARS tinted moisturizer, I was met with a large list of ingredients that I have never heard of and are definitely not natural: ACTIVE OCTINOXATE 7.4% • TITANIUM DIOXIDE 6.1% INACTIVE WATER • DIMETHICONE • BUTYLENE GLYCOL • PROPANEDIOL • DIETHYLHEXYL SUCCINATE • GLYCERIN • NYLON-12 • CYCLOMETHICONE • PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXYETHYL DIMETHICONE • PEG-10 DIMETHICONE • ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE • SORBITAN SESQUIISOSTEARATE • DISTEARDIMONIUM HECTORITE • DIPHENYLSILOXY PHENYL TRIMETHICONE • STEARIC ACID • PHENOXYETHANOL • POLYMETHYLSILSESQUIOXANE • FRAGRANCE • TRISODIUM EDTA • DIMETHICONE/VINYL DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER • ALUMINUM DISTEARATE • ASCORBYL GLUCOSIDE • POLYSILICONE-2 • VIBRIO ALGINOLYTICUS FERMENT FILTRATE • TALC • TOCOPHEROL • ALTEROMONAS FERMENT FILTRATE • SEA SALT • BHT • ALGAE EXTRACT • SODIUM METABISULFITE • HYDROGEN DIMETHICONE • CURCUMA LONGA (TURMERIC) ROOT EXTRACT • POTASSIUM SORBATE • [+/- (MAY CONTAIN): TITANIUM DIOXIDE • IRON OXIDES]. Many of these ingredients are derived from fossil fuels, which exacerbate the environmental issues we are already facing, like pollution. As a result of this product containing so many ingredients, especially those derived from fossil fuels, there is much concern raised regarding the fact that many of these ingredients have been speculated to cause adverse health effects.
NARS is owned by the company, Shiseido. On the Shiseido website, they claim that they are working to reduce their environmental footprint and aim to achieve sustainable packaging by 2025. Regarding sustainable packaging, Shiseido is focusing on the five R’s: Respect, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Replace. As of now, Shiseido is reducing the amount of plastics by optimizing packaging weight, reusing regular packaging by launching refills, designing easy-to-be-taken-apart packaging to be recycled, and replacing virgin materials with biodegradable materials. The company claims that it aims to achieve 100% sustainable packaging. However, looking at the tinted moisturizer I have at home, nowhere on the packaging does it say that it is recyclable nor made from recycled materials. Furthermore, Shiseido uses the Life Cycle Assessment to track their environmental footprint. To reduce their environmental footprint, the company has increased the number of refillable products, which has the potential to reduce over 50% of their carbon footprint. Unfortunately, NARS faced some controversy not too long ago. In June of 2017, NARS decided to start selling their products in China. However, China has animal testing laws, in which any cosmetic item sold in China has to be animal tested. On the Shiseido website, they claim that they do not test their products on animals, except when mandated by law. Therefore, NARS is not truly a cruelty-free brand. However, Shiseido is promoting brands that focus on sustainability, such as bareMinerals and BAUM, which are good alternatives to NARS.
Shiseido has production sites around the world, including six in Japan, four in the Asian Pacific (excluding Japan), two in Europe, and one in the U.S. According to the Shiseido Modern Slavery Statement, the company assures that neither Shiseido’s business operations nor its supply chains involve practices amounting to slavery or human trafficking. Furthermore, on the NARS website they claim that the company requires that all suppliers adhere to the Shiseido Group Supplier Code of Conduct, which requires “product suppliers to certify that all goods are manufactured in compliance with the wage and hour, slavery and human trafficking laws of the country of manufacture and without the use of children or prison, indentured, exploited, bonded, forced or slave labor.” The claims made seem reliable, and these labor practices raise my impression of NARS. However, I think much more can still be done to improve the sustainability of the company.