Simple is a skincare brand which has gained a lot of popularity, especially since it is accessible to the vast majority at a price point of £3/$4.14. Even though it is product which has ingredients which are mostly beneficial to the skin, it is important to consider that the brand itself and especially its parent company Unilever are not doing the most to become sustainable brands. The continual use of plastic bottles and unethical labour practices contribute to a contrast in the statements carried out against the actions that they are taking.
The ingredients used in the face wash are mainly synthetic with some organic ingredients in it. One of the ingredients in the wash is Propoylene Glycol which helps to ensure the product does not freeze or melt in low or high temperatures. It can be a skin irritant if used 100% on the skin, but if used in small amounts it is seen as okay. Apart from this ingredient, the rest of the ingredients used are seen as healthy for the skin and also contain some vitamins. Tocopheryl Acetate is a pure version of Vitamin E which is commonly found in many different cosmetics products, but may not be absorbed well by the skin. Glyceryl Cocoate is an ingredient found in many baby washes making it a gentle ingredient for the skin which is made from palm oil and glycerin used to dissolve oils in water based products. Overall, the ingredients used in the face wash seem to be beneficial for the skin providing vitamins such as vitamin E, Pro vitamin B-5 and Bisabolol which protects the skin from everyday damage and soothes irritation.
Simple is a company which is PETA approved vegan and cruelty free and does not include any artificial perfumes or colours, harsh chemicals, alcohol, parabens or phtalates in any of their products including the facial wash. However, the problem with Simple being PETA approved is that even though their products are not currently sold in China, they may plan to do so in the future. This is because a statement from their Twitter account says that ‘Should we launch in China one day, we will do so in a way that does not require animal testing’. This means that they are open to the idea of selling their products in China and even though they may not test on animals, they may be at risk of post-market animal testing. This is where the Chinese government takes products from shelves to test on animals. In terms of their sustainability, Simple bottles and tubes are fully recyclable and are made with recycled plastic. However, the problem with recycling is that it distracts attention of industries that continue to produce plastic and blames plastic pollution onto the consumer. Recycling forces the consumer to take responsibility for plastic waste rather than questioning why industries continue to use it when other alternatives are available. Even though the parent company Unilever claims to be an advocate for sustainability, not only in terms of their environmental impact but also advocating for fairness in the workplace, there is evidence to suggest that their actions do not meet their claims. For example, one of the ingredients in the facial wash is Glyceral Cocoate produced from palm oil, which promotes deforestation and releases CO2 emissions to produce palm.
Even though there is no information about the supply chain and worker’s rights on the Simple Website, the Unilever website has a substantial amount of pages on their website on how they promote fairness in the workplace and also only work with suppliers that will aim to achieve a ‘sustainable and successful future.' The fairness in the workplace page is outdated as it has goals aimed to be achieved by 2020, which shows that we are yet to find out if some of their goals such as building human rights in the workplace has been met. The page may not have been updated as there have been instances where Unilever have been oppressing their workers. This can be seen by what happened in South Africa in 2019 where a peaceful protest led to private security hired by Unilever to attack the workers by shooting them with rubber bullets, use pepper spray and paint balls. However, in order to become a supplier, the business or organization has to meet the Unilever Supplier Qualification System which allows any supplier to meet the criteria. For example, this includes ensuring that all workers are treated equally with respect and dignity, all workers are of an appropriate age, all workers are paid fair wages, working hours for all workers are reasonable etc. This has been contrasted by the fact that Unilever is one of the many organizations that have profited from child and forced labour when it comes to the palm oil supply chain in Indonesia, even though the company claims that they use 'sustainable palm oil'.