The Ugly Business of Cosmetics: Environmental Impact


by steeve greenberg microbeads

The Ugly Business of Cosmetics: Environmental Impact

The beauty products you buy seemingly do wonders for your beauty. But what about nature’s beauty? Believe it or not, the beauty and cosmetic products placed on your shelf do more harm than good.

With the increase in the trends of skincare and beauty rituals, thanks to social media, people are consuming these products more than ever. According to a recent study, the Indian cosmetic market is to grow by 25% to 1,50,35,50,000.00 INR by 2025.

This growth in the industry is a good sign for the economy. However, if you think about the real cost of cosmetics, it’s not the MRP printed on it but the harm these products are doing to the environment and thus, to you. The Drugs and Cosmetic Act regulates beauty and cosmetic products such as lipstick, haircare, skincare, deodorants, and so on. This does not, however, imply that these items are suitable for long-term use. The fact that only 7 of the Act’s 169 sections apply to cosmetics control, while the rest are based on medications, is troubling.

The lack of strict oversight results in the manufacturing of cosmetic products that harm you and the environment greatly.

What are beauty and cosmetic products that are most harmful to the environment?

Even though many beauty products are toxic, others pose greater environmental risks. This is usually attributed to the higher percentage of non-biodegradable ingredients and hazardous chemical compounds in its composition.

Makeup removal wipes

Removing makeup after an eventful and busy day sure feels therapeutic. But, it doesn’t feel so for the environment. The makeup removal wipes, designed for a single time use are made of polypropylene. These are non-recyclable and can even clog drains. Thus, they pose a great threat to the environment and waterways.

Exfoliating scrubs with microbeads

These scrubs make your skin feel softer and remove all the dead cells. But these are extremely dangerous. These exfoliating scrubs contain plastic microbeads that don’t get removed or destroyed when being washed down. These extremely are dangerous because they end up in the aquatic and marine environments and get ingested by the aquatic animals, and life.

Face sheet masks

While those beloved facial sheet masks can hydrate and leave your skin with a dewy glow, they aren’t so beneficial to the environment. For one thing, the face sheet masks produce a lot of waste products: there’s a plastic pouch, the mask itself, and even a plastic sheet wrapped around the mask, none of which is easily recyclable or compostable. As a result, more waste will end up in landfills.

Skin-whitening creams

The entire market of skin-whitening creams screams our unhealthy obsession with fair and white skin. But that’s a discussion for later. These whitening creams have silicone, which not only are harmful to you but the environment. Just like the micro-beads, the silicone gets washed down into marine and aquatic environments. Thus, harming marine life.

Sprays and mists

Many of the spray-on beauty products are hazardous to the environment. They pollute the atmosphere in addition to the fact that they will end up in landfills. They may also contribute to the ozone layer’s depletion. This is due to the aerosol and hydrocarbons contained in them.

What are the chemicals in beauty and cosmetic products that harm the environment?


Preservatives like BHT and BHA are commonly used in moisturizers and cosmetics. Both have been linked to potential environmental damage, despite being suspected of being hormone disruptors. It has a proclivity for bioaccumulation and is harmful to marine species. It induces genetic mutations in amphibians, according to studies. In aquatic environments, BHT has a low to high potential for bioaccumulation.


Antibacterial items such as hand sanitisers and laundry detergents contain triclosan. Triclosan can change the biochemistry of amphibians, fish, and aquatic plants when it is washed down the drain. It takes a long time to degrade, accumulates in the soil, and combines with other chemicals in rivers to form toxic dioxins.


This is a dangerous chemical used in many sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone have been found to be harmful to coral and contribute to the decline of reefs, according to studies. They also cause coral DNA to be altered, and they have been shown to be fatal to baby coral.


Many sticky beauty products, such as toothpaste and lipsticks, contain lead. Heavy metals take a long time to degrade. They have a negative impact on the climate.


Sulfates come from a variety of sources, including petroleum and plants. They can also develop as a result of Sulphur acid reacting with other chemicals when washed down. They can be found lathering in soaps. Climate change, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions are all linked to the disadvantages of sulfates.

Yes, these chemicals are frightening not only for you but for the environment too.  If you want to wear makeup, you should certainly look for alternatives that don’t contain such harmful chemicals. Rather than buying from a well-known company whose sole aim is to make money, you can go organic, herbal, or DIY and go easy on yourself and nature. To dramatically minimize emissions and waste, eco-friendly cosmetics have been launched. Many cosmetics companies are releasing natural, organic, and eco-friendly shampoos and cosmetics. Environmentally-conscious products have been added to the market, ranging from personal care cosmetics to household and cleaning products.

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