By Izzy Utterson
For years, different countries have been praised and celebrated for their unique and innovative approaches to beauty and wellness. There’s the je ne sais quoi of the French pharmacy, with it’s simplistic yet glowing results, South Korea’s fun and unique approach to skincare with their sheet masks (infamously worn by many on planes and in IG selfies) as well as creamy mists, overnight gel masks, and much more. I myself have been using the Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask and can vouch for its incredibly hydrating effects, this slimy green mask goes on before bedtime and works overnight to reveal a clean and dewy complexion.
British beauty has never managed to reach the same potential – until now. Over the past few years, British beauty has been evolving at rocket speed and is taking centre stage in the wider beauty industry. Frankly, it’s about time. “I think what the past year has made us realise is that beauty, and everything that everyone does [in the industry] are essential services,” says Rishi Sunak reflecting on a time when, during the global pandemic, all beauty services were considered ‘non essential.’ The beauty industry is so much more than just makeup: it’s about a community, self-esteem, confidence and overall wellness.
"The beauty industry is so much more than just makeup: it’s about a community, self-esteem, confidence and overall wellness. "
The UK’s beauty industry is worth a stupendous £27 billion as of 2020, ranking as the 7th largest cosmetics market in the world. In the past several years, British Beauty companies have emerged fusing forward-thinking science, innovative technology and organic British produce. Take The Organic Pharmacy for example, founded in 2002 by Margo Marrone. They infuse formulations that integrate herbal, homeopathic and cosmetics to bring us new standards in clean, high performance beauty. Using state of the art techniques in their London laboratory and factory, The Organic Pharmacy use British grown ingredients where possible, extracting the most powerful and potent from each botanical to create award-winning and sustainable formulations. Their best-selling Carrot Butter Cleanser melts away impurities effortlessly using organically sourced Carrot, Calendula, Rosemary and Lavender. It is Vegan and uses 99.9% organic ingredients. Don’t be afraid of it’s balmy and oily texture as this miracle cleanser draws out impurities using oils (contrary to popular belief, products containing oil act to draw out oils from the skin, without drying) leaving you with a radiant and fresh complexion. I use this daily to remove my makeup as it truly cleans away all residue of makeup and pollution, a staple for your bathroom shelf if you’re looking to switch up your skincare routine.
"The Organic Pharmacy use British grown ingredients where possible, extracting the most powerful and potent from each botanical to create award-winning and sustainable formulations."
Then take Pai. This organic beauty brand also creates everything in-house in their London laboratory. Their attention to detail has seen the brand receive global recognition with their iconic Rosehip Oil. Pai have even gone a step further and introduced a recycling scheme to make their entire process as clean and green as possible for UK customers. You keep your outer mailer box, fill it with any packaging you cannot recycle at home, apply the prepaid postage label provided and drop off at the post office for Pai to do the rest. Now, that’s good service. I have been using Pai’s Rosehip Oil for years on both my stretch marks and psoriasis, and am constantly singing its praises. It is undoubtedly their top-rated treasure boasting the most concentrated Rosehip Oil on the market, outperforming many other competitors.
"Pai have even gone a step further and introduced a recycling scheme to make their entire process as clean and green as possible for UK customers."
Small companies like these are setting the precedent for brands everywhere by showing them that sustainability does not have to mean compromising on the quality or quantity of products, and that brands can be sustainable and thrive. This trend has flourished in 2021 with the founding of Rosie Huntington Whiteley’s Rose Inc. Huntington-Whiteley has managed to make sustainability sexy with a line of beauty products and skincare that refuses to compromise on indulgence or pore-friendly products, two factors which tend to be mutually exclusive. Each formula has been developed with an indulgent texture and luxury feel, whilst when it comes to their packaging they are wholly committed to sustainability. The packaging uses 25%+ post consumer recycled plastic, paper cartons made with 30% hemp and rinse off labels manufactured with a 90% PCR liner. Rose Inc is a perfect example of how beauty can be fun, sexy and sustainable. Their Softlight Luminous Hydrating Concealer – the name was enough to make me want it – comes in a chic and discrete neutral packaging, containing a complexion-perfecting formula of Vitamin E and Squalene which work to condition and protect the skin whilst hydrating. Combined with colour-corrective botanicals that balance the complexion and minimise the appearance of any redness or dark circles, this skincare-makeup hybrid, along with the rest of Huntington-Whiteley’s elegant product line, is one for both makeup lovers and skincare enthusiasts. Rose Inc has brilliantly shown that brands no longer need to compromise on efficacy for marketing purposes, but instead can use sustainability as means by which to strengthen their brand philosophies and efficacy, paving the way towards full transparency – a hallmark towards true sustainability in the beauty industry.
"Huntington-Whiteley has managed to make sustainability sexy with a line of beauty products and skincare that refuses to compromise on indulgence or pore-friendly products, two factors which tend to be mutually exclusive. Each formula has been developed with an indulgent texture and luxury feel, whilst when it comes to their packaging they are wholly committed to sustainability."
Loopeco is another brand paving the way to the future of the beauty industry, pledging to be wholly ‘transparent’ about all of their product ingredients, without over-hyped promises and gimmicky marketing claims. They also boast a closed-loop, plastic-free packaging system, an issue which many brands who greenwash and claim to be sustainable have failed to combat. Founder James Brainchild noted in a recent interview with Another that, “Packaging is a major factor in the beauty industry, and it should be considered just as much as the cosmetics themselves.” Loopeco strives towards a circular economy that is designed to benefit both society and our environment, not only is their skincare range 100% natural, vegan and organic, it is plastic free. Their best-selling Matcha Mask is housed in 100% post-consumer materials, embedded with wildflower seeds. Once you have finished using the mask, you can plant the seeds and watch the wildflowers bloom.
“Packaging is a major factor in the beauty industry, and it should be considered just as much as the cosmetics themselves.”
But, aside from the issues of sustainability, another prevalent issue the beauty industry has long faced are issues of inclusivity. Thanks to brands such as UOMA Beauty (founded by Nigerian born and London based former beauty executive Sharon Chuter), we are beginning to see improvements. Uoma Beauty’s founder Sharon Chuter, recently named by WWD as one of their 50 most powerful women, not only has created her beauty brand, but is the person behind the movement ‘Pull Up For Change’. Pull Up For Change invited beauty brands to reveal the number of Black employees who held corporate and executive level roles. The response was overwhelming, giving employees the platform to be more vocal and hold companies accountable. This initiative has helped to facilitate the creation of thousands of jobs, and continues to do incredible work. Uoma Beauty has recently released a collection of highlighter palettes that give you a lit-from-within glow, and after the year we’ve had, it's about time for some beautiful glow in our lives.
Beauty is, and should be, for everybody, and I am proud to say that the UK is making strides towards become a far more diverse and inclusive space.Afrocenchix is a small female black owned business with sustainable and ethical business practice at its core. To this brand, supporting Britain is hugely important. The founders Rachael Twumasi-Corson and Jocelyn Mate saw a gap in the market finding hair products that catered to their needs, and many products used on afro hair they found to have harmful side effects. Afrochenix hires and works with UK based scientists and chemists, formulating top quality products which are then manufactured in the UK and supportive of British suppliers. They believe that business can be both ethical and sustainable whilst serving the community needs. After years of rejection from wholesalers labelling Black woman's needs as “niche", they were voted BBFA’s Best Natural Hair Brand 2018, and became the first product for afro hair to be sold in Whole Foods UK. Their Sheen Natural Moisturising Spray is dubbed by Afrocenchix co- founder Jocelyn as one “for lazy naturals” as it hydrates in just one spritz, delivering moisture and nourishment, suitable for natural hair or protective styles. With excellent reviews all round, this brand is definitely one to give a try!
"After years of rejection from wholesalers labelling Black woman's needs as “niche", they were voted BBFA’s Best Natural Hair Brand 2018, and became the first product for afro hair to be sold in Whole Foods UK."
In beauty, sustainability is best assessed by observing how companies source raw ingredients, their supply chain and their packaging. In 2021, we are finally seeing brand transparency to their consumers, telling us the what, why and how of their products, pioneering the way towards true sustainability. British beauty brands have collectively placed sustainability at the forefront of their minds, looking towards more ethical sourcing of raw materials, to rebranding based on sustainable materials. Alongside this we have seen a shift in the British beauty industry towards a celebration of society as a whole. spearheaded by brands like Fenty, we are finally seeing beauty as far more accessible and more inclusive than ever. However, we still have a long way to go. The beauty industry contributes to 120 billion units of packaging each year, with most of it not even recyclable. The industry also needs to move further away from tokenistic displays of diversity, instead moving towards a genuine view of their customer base. This can only start from within, ensuring that in the hiring and promotion process delivery is represented; with informed educators providing knowledge of diverse hair, skin and wellbeing considerations .
"British beauty brands have collectively placed sustainability at the forefront of their minds, looking towards more ethical sourcing of raw materials, to rebranding based on sustainable materials."
Beauty has been shown to go far beyond just luxury pampering, they are essential to our health and wellbeing, the British Beauty Council even launched six inspirational short films in a series called ‘Bring Back Beauty.’ The Beauty Industry is undoubtedly an essential part of British Culture, and I am looking forward to seeing what strides will be made in 2022 as we see the industry bounce back post pandemic to become stronger than ever.