How COVID-19, the BLM Movement, and climate change brought back natural beauty

We’ve already been through a lot as a nation during 2020 - and the year isn’t through just yet. With a highly contagious virus setting off a global pandemic, mass protests against systematic racial injustice, and drastic changes to our planet caused by climate change, it’s safe to say that the world has gone through some drastic shifts compared to this time last year.

The same can be said for the beauty and skincare industry. As we struggle to come to terms with wearing masks in public, social distancing, and events such as protests and widespread unemployment inducing stress, we are looking for anything that makes us feel good and look healthy. For many, that means a more natural approach to cosmetics and skincare products. 

This article will look at how the drastic events that are currently happening in 2020 have shifted people away from the toxic lotions and potions to a more natural, authentic, low-key image, trending new perceptions of ‘healthy’ and how these events have made society think twice about what they put on their skin. 

COVID-19 Pandemic & Lockdown

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to make us redefine what ‘healthy’ feels and looks like. Pre COVID times, we thought nothing of using sample products at make-up and skincare counters and filling our skin with toxins to smooth out wrinkles. But things are changing. Safety and optimal health have become our priority. 

The coronavirus pandemic has woken us up to the number of chemicals we place on our skin every day as we become more aware of cleanliness and sanitation. This has caused cosmetic companies and dermatologists to pivot their brands and products to adapt to this emerging trend of natural beauty. Spending weeks in lockdown has fuelled our appetite for more immune-boosting products that are going to restore and revitalize skin and fewer cover-ups and heavy looking makeup and skin products.  

Along with advice and guidelines around good hygiene practices to prevent COVID-19 infections, the CDC also released information regarding indoor air pollutants and toxic chemicals. The report indicates that we are exposed to more environmental pollutants when indoors than out. John Bower, the founder of Healthy House Institute states that “Walking into a modern building can sometimes be compared to placing your head inside a plastic bag that is filled with toxic fumes.” 

Dust mites trapped in rugs and mattresses, carbon-free radicals from stovetop cooking, fire retardants in furniture, and paint as just a few of the culprits that emit pollutants in our homes. A report released in 1989 showed that the average American spends 93% of their time indoors - with the advancements of technology and the lockdown, that figure has almost certainly increased. 

Not only were we forced to stay at home during the lockdown, but we were forced to sit with ourselves and press pause on how we lived our daily lives, our habits, and what we truly think of ourselves. This started a movement towards practicing more self-love and acceptance. Social media platforms fuelled this with challenges such as ‘Beauty Mode’ challenge which encourages users to start with a ‘beauty filter’ and end with them looking natural and make-up free to raise awareness around impossible beauty standards on Instagram. Many celebrities were also popping up on IGTV and Facebook Live looking natural while in lockdown.

This vulnerability has allowed women (and men) to become more comfortable in themselves and more encouraged to embrace natural beauty and rid chemically polluted products and procedures from their bathroom cabinet and beauty schedule. 

Looking after our bodies and health became more of a priority over make-up and dermatologist procedures. 

Racial Injustice Protests & the BLM movement

Social movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement, triggered by the death of George Floyd and police brutality against African American people, has shone a light on how the beauty and skincare industry has defined as ‘beautiful’. 

Many activists are calling for change from big brand names and the use of skin whitening in their products. Even though skin-whitening products are more prominent in Asian countries, it’s still a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. Skin bleaching is an age-old practice based on beliefs that ‘white is right’ and women, in particular, should pursue a pale complexion to differentiate themselves from lower-class people.

A study carried out by the World Health Organization found that 61% of Indian women and 77% of Nigerian women use skin-lightening creams regularly, as do 40% of Chinese women.

Not only is this extremely damaging to our society, but also to our skin. In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice that skin bleaching products are not recognized as safe and effective and the products were deemed not safe for human use. Some skin bleaching creams made outside of the United States have been linked to mercury toxicity. Mercury has been banned as an ingredient in skin lightening products in the United States, but products made in other countries still contain mercury, which causes numbness, high blood pressure, and kidney failure. Skin whitening products may also cause skin inflammation, skin disorders, and steroid acne.

Many women of color around the world are ditching their pursuit of fairer skin and embracing the skin they were born in as they wake up to its damaging effects on their bodies, minds, and society. 

Climate Change

This movement towards ‘clean beauty and skincare’ is further challenging the beauty industry and enforcing stricter standards and regulations in regards to the ingredients used in products and how it’s affecting the environment. 

Mass-produced cosmetics and skincare products made in factories are polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink every day. Common chemicals often found on beauty and skincare products include parabens which can cause birth defects and hormonal imbalances, synthetic fragrances, which are known to have hundreds of toxic chemicals, phthalates being one of them, and aluminum, which acts as a neurotoxin and can lead to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and even breast cancer.

These chemicals are not only causing harm to our body but also to our environment.

Systems such as Biotechnology are stepping in to challenge beauty brands and consumers to forge new definitions of natural. Biotechnology blends natural ingredients, like plant or marine extracts with technology, which reproduces the ingredients in pollution-free labs rather than harvesting them from the earth or sea. 

This process overcomes issues like deforestation and over-farming and creates ingredients that keep the integrity of the plants intact. It also offers added reassurance that the formulas are lab-approved and safe for skin. Brands such as One Ocean Beauty and Biossance are using biotechnology to produce natural, cruelty-free, and environmentally friendly beauty and skincare products.

Environmental activists are also calling the beauty and skincare industry out on their use of single-use plastic with a staggering 120 billion units of packaging is produced by the global cosmetics industry every year. 

But plastic isn’t just in our waters, it’s in our products too in the form of microplastic. Microplastic comprises of plastic particles that are smaller than five millimeters in diameter. In the form of a microbead or a plastic fiber, these particles have been found in cosmetics, cleaning products, and personal care products, such as toothpaste and soap. Even though microbeads have been officially banned in the US, trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are still found accumulating in our products, especially rinse-off cosmetic products used for exfoliating, such as toothpaste and skin exfoliants.

At Vasarii, we use biodegradable plastic on our products, which is environmentally friendlier, as it eventually degrades. We also advocate natural beauty and eliminating products that are infused with lots of chemicals, which lead to compromised immune systems and long-term health hazards. We believe in high standards when it comes to beauty and only the most premium, natural ingredients should be allowed to touch and enter your body. We have made incredible shifts to becoming a more health-conscious society that embraces authentic values, true beliefs and raw standards. We are proud to be a part of this movement by offering 100% pure and natural products that are completely free of chemicals and toxins and great for you and the environment.