3 Questions to Ask Before Investing in a Beauty Brand, Because High Expectations Are a Good Thing

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We're not afraid to admit that we have high standards. In 2020, who doesn't? It's simply a sign of the times to expect more from brands you love, especially beauty brands.

Maybe a few years ago, the most research you would do for a product or brand included a brief skim of customer reviews to ensure that the $28 foundation you really wanted to buy would work with your skin type, but it would usually stop there. Now, we're digging deeper because, let's face it, we're holding brands to the same standards as the friends we associate with, the clothing we buy, and even the cell carrier service we trust. For the first time, we're making sure that the companies we invest our time and money in align with our most important values and check all of our boxes.

Here, we've created a list of go-to questions to answer when you need a gut check about a beauty brand. From long-term commitments to sustainability, inclusive product expansions to ingredient transparency, there are plenty of boxes your favorite brands should be checking before you shop their latest and greatest products.

Is This Brand Transparent About Their Ingredients?
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Is This Brand Transparent About Their Ingredients?

Once upon a time, organic vs. natural ingredients was the hottest topic of conversation in beauty. Although we've since learned that these buzzwords can be, well, just buzzwords, the topic has managed to force beauty enthusiasts like ourselves to rethink brand transparency and inspire a deeper understanding of ingredients. Some things worth questioning when shopping for new products include:

  • Do they use safer chemical alternatives?
  • Are the ingredients clearly listed on the bottle?
  • Do they test on animals?
  • Can you easily track where their ingredients are sourced?

More and more brands (and the retailers they're sold in) are vetting specific ingredients that you may not necessarily want or need in a product. For example, a brand that prides itself on being clean likely doesn't use parabens and phthalates, both of which are banned in some form in other countries (although they're not regulated by the FDA in the US — yet).

Does This Brand Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion?
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Does This Brand Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion?

Caring about diversity and inclusivity isn't just a trend, but it's likely that you'll come across brands that think it is. So, it takes a little extra effort on your part to ensure that the brands you support fall into the camp of representing everyone all the time, even when it's not a hot topic.

For far too long, shade equity hasn't been a thing in the beauty industry. Up until about three years ago, foundations, concealers, and even powders would be launched with limited shade offerings, leaving BIPOC consumers, especially Black women, to mix several products together to create a shade that would match their skin tone. In other words, ranges that only offer about 10 shade options may not be something you want to support.

But it's not only shade inclusivity that we're looking for anymore. We're looking for diversity and inclusion in the actual products, in the talent who help advertise it, and in the company who produces and develops it. Some other crucial details to keep in mind include:

  • Companies' demographics at a corporate level
  • Representation in a brand's social media feed
  • Influencer or talent collaborations that don't contradict these fair values

If a beauty brand is ever called out on social media for an insensitive or tone-deaf commercial, social media post, or product, it's most likely because there's a severe lack of diversity on a higher, corporate level. If, as a consumer, you demand it, people who are more representative of you and your peers will more likely get a seat at the table.

Is This Brand Committed to a Sustainable Future?
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Is This Brand Committed to a Sustainable Future?

Remember when replacing your makeup wipes with reusable cotton rounds felt like the biggest change you could make to help the planet? While every little thing can count, most of the problematic choices that are harmful to our environment are made on a massive scale — single-use and plastic packaging are only one side of this problem.

While, yes, a lot of product packaging isn't recyclable and cutting back on consumption can help, it's important to consider how these nonrecyclables are made and the larger impact they're having on the environment. So, when you're interested in supporting a new brand, or even an older one that you've loved for years, check their website. More often than not, you'll be able to find very quickly how dedicated they are to not only reducing waste and decreasing single-use plastics, but also what groundbreaking steps they're committed to in order to create long-term results that could potentially reverse the damage that's already happening (see: air and water pollution). When sleuthing for these details, keep an eye out for the following improvements:

  • Vegan ingredients
  • Refillable bottles (with accessible refillable services)
  • Aerosol alternatives
  • Upcycled and recycled packaging

Reducing a carbon footprint or overhauling packaging doesn't happen overnight, so if a brand isn't entirely eco-friendly right now, check their website to see if they've made a long-term plan and how they maintain one moving forward!

In short, ask more questions — simply ask more, in general, of the brands you shop from. You have more power to shift the industry's standards than you think.