How to make a beauty, health or wellness business more sustainable

How to make a beauty, health or wellness business more sustainable

Posted: Wed 14th Feb 2024

As the beauty industry continues to grow, some of its practices are having a negative impact.

As much as 70% of the plastic waste the industry generates isn't recycled, ending up in landfill instead. Concerning news, given an average moisturiser pot can take nearly 1,000 years to decompose.

Businesses in this space, by their very nature, exist to make people and society better. But the outcomes don't always match the ambitions. The well-known negative impacts of body stigma and body image mean companies whose products provide health benefits must consider any unintentional effects their marketing can create.

Not only traditional marketing but social media too, where the rising number of unhealthy products being promoted by influencers is making it harder for consumers to trust products that make valid health claims.

Change is happening

But movements for change are happening, and more customers are wanting to buy from businesses that have a clear purpose and positive impact on society and the planet. If each business made a small, conscious change to the way it runs, the effect would be game-changing, across both the country and the world.

In this blog, we explore some of the ways that beauty, health and wellness businesses can become more sustainable, help tackle climate change and change society. Excitingly, none of this has to come at the expense of profit.

The business case for being more sustainable

Gain a competitive edge

Standing out from the competition is so important in today's market. News stories about environmental and social responsibility are the most significant in terms of affecting people's decision to buy. According to research, consumers are:

  • around 35% more likely to try a product or service from a purpose-driven organisation

  • 50% more likely to switch brands to a purpose-driven company

To grow your current customer base and reach new markets, customers must be able to recognise their values in your company. Indeed, a Harris Poll survey found that 59% of women over the age of 35 say buying eco-friendly beauty products is important to them personally.

Set your business up for the future

Social justice and environmental sustainability are business challenges. What affects people and the planet will affect your business too.

If estimates are correct, your business's pre-tax earnings could fall by 25% to 70% if these challenges have the effect of:

  • damaging your reputation

  • stopping you from keeping to laws and regulations

  • disrupting your supply chain

Managing and reducing these risks, and proactively looking for ways to bring what you do into line with the needs of people and the planet, will make your business stronger for the future.

Indeed, future businesses are the ones that consider the impact they're having on society and the environment. If people know that your business has unfair labour practices at any point in its supply chain, or that you're exploiting the environment in some way, they simply won't buy from you.

Benefit from being innovative

Making commitments that not only benefit the people who are interested in your business, but have a net positive impact on the environment too, will encourage new ideas and innovation.

Many beauty, health and wellness businesses have used their sustainability goals to develop new and creative products, disrupt traditional business models and access new markets. They're choosing to be proactive in the face of new social and environmental challenges.

Industry trends

Getting certified

Depending on what you sell, there are a number of certifications you can apply for to prove you're making genuine claims about your product. Some well-known certification bodies include the Fairtrade Foundation, the Vegan Society and the Soil Association.

Each has its own assessment process you can follow to get certified and be able to put their logo on your products.

Other emerging trends

While it isn't an official certification, there are emerging trends like "zero waste", which many conscious consumers now look out for when purchasing products.

What consumers expect from the companies they shop with is constantly evolving. People are paying more attention to how products are made and packaged, and want your business to consider all aspects of its entire manufacturing process.

Whether you make it official or not, there are certain online and physical marketplaces that focus on these certifications and bring together like-minded sellers and customers.

How to have a positive impact

Make less waste

The beauty industry creates almost 120 billion units of packaging, and yet only about 9% of these products are recyclable. If you make and sell a product, how can you work towards removing waste from your products and processes?

Using the simple framework of Eliminate -> Reduce -> Recycle/reuse -> Supplement may help when trying to understand this in your own business. Here are some examples.


Ingredients on skincare products are listed in terms of weight. More often than not, the first in the list is water, typically the cheapest of all ingredients used. The result is products that are 95% water, leaving only 5% for active ingredients.

Because products contain so much water, not only do they fail to give our skin the nutrients it needs, but the excessive use of water in the manufacturing process creates a significant environmental footprint. It's predicted that by 2025, more than five billion people will be affected by water shortages.

The shampoo bar is a great example of a product that's been around for ages but is now seeing sustained growth. The movement among consumers to switch from liquid shampoos to shampoo bars means other brands are having to step up and remove unnecessary waste from their products too.


A beauty product's bottle and packaging is often the most talked-about issue when it comes to the impact on the environment. How can you design your product so it doesn't become waste at the end of its life?

Simply making sure your packaging is recyclable is important, yes. But thinking more creatively could set you apart from the competition. Refillable bottles and multi-use or reusable packaging is a growing trend, as is packaging you can compost or plant.

A study estimated that 70% of the carbon emissions the beauty industry creates could be eliminated if the containers used were refillable.

Recycle/reuse and supplement

Consumers are definitely more eco-conscious now, and this attitude is only growing. Demand for better business practices will continue as we all become more aware of how our buying habits affect people and the planet.

Buyers are increasingly frowning upon excessive or unnecessary packaging which would end up in landfill. They're also learning more about the flaws in the recycling process, whether this happens because of human error or within the waste management industry itself.

And while biodegradable waste is an improvement, some products and packaging use inks or ingredients that are toxic. These toxins end up being fed back into the environment.

Be honest and transparent

Brand loyalty is hugely based on the trust between your business and your customers. Now people have access to a wealth of information online, it's much harder for companies to make false claims about their products.

Being honest about everything, from your product's ingredients to its benefits, will help make sure your customers return to you because you're a brand they can trust.

Avoid excluding anyone

For a lot of people, treating themselves is a luxury they can't afford. With so many communities excluded from this self-care, how can you make sure you're reaching those customers who traditionally wouldn't be able to reach you?

You can make space for people who would perhaps miss out on health, beauty and wellness services by offering different payment structures. This might mean letting customers voluntarily pay it forward, or increasing prices slightly so you can provide reduced rates to people on lower incomes.

In some cases, businesses have offered their services for free, while partnering with a local charity can give you a sustainable solution that also covers your costs.

Work with your competitors, not against them

It's easy to see being in business as a race against the competition. But the more you can turn competitors into collaborators, the more you can achieve.

Inevitably, as you've built your business, you'll have developed a great network of interested people. Turn this network into a community by introducing like-minded individuals to one another. Once connected, they can all learn from each other and share tips and insight.

Finding organisations and businesses that offer a product or service that complements yours can help you have a much more positive impact – and grow at the same time.

Share your expertise

As you build your business, you'll also, perhaps unknowingly, be amassing knowledge in a specific area or problem. While your first focus should be on providing the best service possible, you should also be aware of the positive impact your expertise and influence could have.

You have a huge opportunity to spread information and education to the right people – government, small businesses, employees of large businesses, or the general public. You can also use your voice to promote a cause or highlight a problem that you care about.


Plan it with Purpose, from Enterprise Nation

Want more tips on making your beauty, health or wellness brand sustainable?

Download our free guide to find out what measures you can put in place to make sure your beauty, health or wellness business has a positive impact. Get the guide now

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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