The beauty industry glows bright, but look deeper and you’ll find it hides an ugly side. Behind the allure of glowing skin and glossy hair lies a backdrop of soil degradation, high carbon footprints, toxic chemicals and single-use plastic packaging. Yet with awareness of the detrimental effects of the industry on the rise, the sector appears to be at a crossroads: to continue on this path, or transform the industry so that it protects the very thing its name represents: the beauty of the planet.
There are a few stand-out beauty brands who are challenging the status quo and demonstrating that the industry does not have to possess this ugly side. For example, Pai Skincare, who source their own ingredients to guarantee organic products, and Avon, who go beyond to empower women.
Pai source their own ingredients themselves, while also formulating and manufacturing all products in their London laboratory. This gives the brand and its consumers’ complete confidence that Pai products are truly organic, 100% vegan, and cruelty-free. We supported Pai in their B Corp submission, successfully certifying with 87 points in August 2022.
For 135 years, Avon has been pioneering women’s empowerment. Having raised more than $1 billion to help women facing domestic abuse and those fighting breast cancer, Avon is driving positive social change by putting gender equity at the heart of its mission.
Now, they’re working towards B Corp certification with Seismic.
The absence of a collective and coordinated approach to raising sustainability standards within the beauty industry has, however, been hard to ignore. Yet it appears that this is changing. Fuelled by the B Corp movement, an inspiring group of B Corp beauty brands are leading the way to revolutionise the industry, epitomising the very thing that B Lab, the not-for-profit behind B Corp certification, set out to do. They are emerging from the certification process with a goal that goes far beyond certification: to create a community of like-minded brands that share best practice, pioneer innovation, and motivate others to join the B Corp movement.
So where did this all start?
Many beauty brands are finding that the ideal place to start on their sustainability journey is in the B Corp certification process. By measuring what matters, brands have a framework for action, using data to understand where they need to improve and what steps they need to take to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. To certify, a company must achieve at least 80 points across the five areas of the B Impact Assessment (BIA).
A rise in the number of beauty B Corps
In 2017, Beauty Kitchen became the first beauty brand in the UK to certify as a B Corporation. Since then, the rate at which beauty brands are certifying has skyrocketed. Current B Corp beauty brands now include some of the industry’s biggest names: Natura & Co (whose brands include Aesop and The Body Shop), Rituals, Skandinavisk, Weleda, Davines and Pai Skincare. In January 2023, Elemis and Aveda achieved B Corp certification and in February, Neom joined the B Corp community. The beauty industry seems to be at a tipping point that has the potential to transform the sector. If we take a closer look, a special community of Beauty B Corps is spurring this growth: the B Beauty Coalition.
The B Beauty Coalition: Challenging the status quo through mutual collaboration
The idea of a collective action coalition in the beauty industry came off the back of a casual conversation at the B Corp Annual Summit in Amsterdam 2019. It was here that several leaders from Beauty B Corps realised they were not alone on their path to leave a lighter footprint. There were other businesses facing the same challenges, determined to prioritise purpose over profit. How can we help one another, and the industry as a whole? was the critical question.
The response to this question appeared in January 2022, when twenty-six B Corp Beauty brands founded the B Corp Beauty Coalition. Its purpose: to improve the sustainability standards of the wider beauty industry, delivering beauty for good. The coalition strives to do so by collaborating and exchanging knowledge and best practices, implementing improvement actions and publishing their outcomes to help the wider beauty industry improve its overall social and environmental footprint. More than 60 beauty B Corps now make up the B Beauty Coalition. These beauty brands span three continents and represent thousands of employees, millions of customers and billions of revenue.
Reaching all beauty brands
What makes this coalition so unique is its plans to go further than helping just B Corps, creating impact outside the B Corp community. In 2022, the coalition defined three initial areas to work on: ingredient sourcing, packaging and logistics. During B Corp Month 2023, the coalition published its first year of peer-reviewed work in the form of a ‘B Beauty Navigation tool’, a free tool that helps all beauty brands and consumers make more informed decisions with regard to ingredient sourcing, packaging and logistics.
By improving the social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability of all beauty brand products and processes, the coalition aims to empower the consumer to take on the role of a “beauty citizen”: an individual who protects the beauty of nature while improving their own sense of beauty.
“Because if we are a citizen of this earth, we are responsible not only for our own consumption habits but also for the people around us and for the world that surrounds us.”
CASE STUDY: PZ CUSSONS
Using the B Impact Assessment to inform sustainability strategy
Founded in 1884, PZ Cussons is an international consumer goods FTSE250 business built on family values. They have over 20 beauty, baby and hygiene brands in their portfolio, including Carex, Original Source and St. Tropez.
PZ Cussons have pledged to become a B Corporation by 2026. Ambitious for such a large and complex business, this builds on their Palm Oil Action Plan, expanding their reduction targets for energy, plastics, water and waste. Read more.
“B Corp is so valuable for two things. It gives you a framework and a structure, and the certification gives you a rubber stamp to show you are definitely doing what you say.”
Inspiring industry-wide change
Harnessing the power of open collaboration, B Corp beauty brands are truly using business as a force for good. Going beyond B Corp certification, the coalition is working together to create solutions to deep-rooted social and environmental problems within their industry, serving as a valuable blueprint for B Corp action to other industries. B Corp beauty brands are not only influencing change, they are activating change, we like to call this a Seismic Shift!.
Get in touch with one of our B Corp experts to find out more about how to use this framework for change.