The Rise of Fast Beauty and its Environmental Impact

Solutions to slow down the accelerated beauty industry 

As beautiful as “beauty” can be, it also comes with a very ugly bit. Here we find some of the alternatives and solutions to slow down the environmental impact of fast beauty.

Surprisingly, the beauty industry has an ugly side. The rise of fast beauty is affecting ecosystems worldwide, causing life-long negative impacts. It’s a bigger issue than most people realize.

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What Is Fast Beauty?

Fasty beauty is what happens when brands create new cosmetics at an unsustainable pace. New products appear daily to get ahead of changing styles. While most people have heard about fast fashion, fast beauty is quickly becoming a new area of concern.

Most people have drawers full of unused items, so why do they keep getting more? Even though they don’t need the latest concealer or face cream, they’ll give in and get it because they feel like they’ll miss out otherwise.

Social media has played a large part in the growth of fast beauty. Thousands of influencers create their own makeup brands, businesses push limited-edition collaborations and people constantly try to set trends with new products.

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How Does Fast Beauty Impact the Planet?

Recycling most beauty products is challenging because many containers are too small, have wildly different shapes and use multiple kinds of plastic. They often literally fall through the cracks when they get to recycling facilities.

Most end up in landfills or waterways, even when people initially try to recycle them. One expert in sustainability and climate change research says the beauty industry creates over 120 billion units of packaging every single year.

Since plastic doesn’t break down in the environment, it’ll stay for thousands of years. Over time, it breaks down into microplastics, which harm sea life and leak into the ground. They aren’t good for the health of living creatures or the planet.

Also, beauty brands damage the environment when they use things like palm, coconut and olive oil. Most standard cosmetics use these ingredients, so demand is high. Since they come from nature, businesses must force them to grow faster to get more. This practice lowers soil health, leads to deforestation and contaminates waterways with pesticides.

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What Can You Do About It?

Even though fast beauty has a devastating impact on the planet, your effort can help minimize it.

  • Choose Sustainable Brands

Look for corporate-funded cosmetic startups to find an environmentally-friendly brand. Since they must develop business relationships to succeed, support from the larger company helps the smaller one focus on meeting sustainability goals.

There’s also no shortage of sustainable brands for you to try. For example, the beauty company “100% Pure” has a nine-step quality assurance process to ensure all its products are natural and cruelty free. It even has a line of chemical and filler-free cosmetics. Try to shop at businesses using eco-friendly packaging and ethically-sourced ingredients.

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  • Reuse Products

If you clean your cosmetic containers as thoroughly as possible, you can reuse them elsewhere. For example, an old mascara wand can become a handy cleaning tool or an eyebrow brush. You could also store petroleum jelly in an empty balm container for an on-the-go chapped-lip fix.

  • Check Shelf Life

Every cosmetic has a shelf life — like how food has an expiration date. Although most people keep using their products until they run out, many toss theirs. Before adding anything to your collection, compare how long each option lasts.

Generally, you can use your makeup, skincare or hair care product after it goes out of date. However, it may not work as well or start to have side effects. For example, while most products stay good for up to three years unopened, some expire after only two months as soon as you start using them. If you’re more comfortable only using cosmetics during their shelf life, look for longer-lasting ones.

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  • Limit Purchases

Globally, the cosmetics market will be worth over $125 billion by 2027 — an increase of nearly $22 billion from 2023. New businesses will have to pop up to meet demand, meaning the impact of fast beauty will grow. Naturally, the best way to combat fast beauty is to stop buying new makeup, skincare and hair care.

You can keep using your favorite products, but try to avoid getting anything new on impulse. It may look fun and useful, but how often will you actually use it? Consider if you really need it or if it’ll just collect dust on your shelf.

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Use Products that Protect the Planet

The beauty industry is pumping out new products to meet constantly changing demands. The wasteful attempts to get ahead of trends have lasting environmental impacts worldwide, so preventing it from continuing is crucial. You can do your part by being a conscious consumer and using brands that genuinely care about the planet.

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Jane Marsh

Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.

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