Confusing packaging stopping shoppers from buying sustainable beauty products

CARING shoppers refuse to buy eggs from cage-reared hens – but never check if their beauty products are sustainable and cruelty-free because it’s ‘too difficult’ to understand the packaging.

A poll of 2,000 adults found 57% consider themselves to be a sustainable and ethical shopper, with 62% claiming this has become even more important to them in the past five years. 

Shoppers often won’t check if their beauty products are sustainable because it’s ‘too difficult’ to understand the packagingCredit: Getty

As a result, 63% would always buy free-range eggs, despite it being more expensive than eggs from battery hens.

But only 28% buy more expensive beauty products to ensure they are cruelty-free, with 61% struggling to tell if hair and skincare products are ethical from the packaging.

And 55% don’t usually check the eco credentials of make-up and haircare as they feel they have ‘no choice’ but to buy items which aren’t sustainable and animal friendly.

However, the study by haircare brand weDo/ Professional found 54% have considered sustainability a more important factor when buying hair, beauty and skincare items in recent years.

The study found that it's the young leading the way when it comes to ethical shopping.

The study found that it’s the young leading the way when it comes to ethical shopping.Credit: weDo/

More than half (56%) feel it is more important than ever to look for an item with recyclable packaging, while 44% are now more concerned about products being animal friendly.

A quarter of shoppers are also more likely to look for an accreditation or mark to prove its eco-friendly status.

Elinor Brown, spokesperson for weDo/ said: “For many, being green, sustainable and trying to look after the planet is a big concern – especially when it comes to beauty – but they feel it’s not always as simple as they would like. 

“We can see consumers have good intentions to buy sustainably, yet this is easier to do in some areas than others.

“It’s easy to see whether the eggs you are buying come from cage reared hens or free range, but it seems many shoppers don’t feel the same way about beauty and haircare products – and you don’t always have the time to stand in the store trying to decipher the details on the packaging.

“At weDo/, we want to show our consumers that it is easy to make more sustainable choices with clearer labelling and product promises which reference sourcing, ingredients and recycling schemes.”

The study also found that younger adults are leading the way when it comes to ethical shopping.

More than two thirds (67%) of 25–34-year-olds consider themselves to be sustainable shopper compared to just 48% of pensioners.

And 40% of younger adults would refuse to buy shampoo or conditioner which wasn’t ethically and sustainably produced, while just a quarter of 55-64-year-olds said the same.

It also emerged one in five 25–34-year-olds consider the sustainability credentials an important factor when choosing a hair care product compared to just 14% of over 65s.

As a result, 52% of young adults check the packaging of beauty products to ensure they are produced ethically and sustainably before making a purchase – more than the 38% of over 65s who do the same. 

However, a lack of clear information on packaging is a barrier for many with 49% of all adults wanting brands to make it easier to spot how a product was produced.

More than half would even be prepared to pay an average of 19% more for an item which was clearly shown to be cruelty-free, while 31% would part with more cash if it was obvious it had used ethical packaging.

The desire for more ethical and sustainable items has also seen one in four adults turn their backs on hair products in plastic bottles and use a shampoo bar instead, according to the figures.

The main driver for doing so is to reduce plastic use from shampoo bottles (52%), while 44% say it’s a small change they can make to help the environment.

Elinor Brown from weDo/ added: “Making a small change, like going from shampoo bottles to shampoo bars, can seem a bit daunting at first.

“But it’s a little change which can really help your beauty regime to become more ethical and sustainable.”

To find out more about shopping sustainably and the psychology behind it, go to the weDo/ website.

It comes as more than two thirds of Brits believe brands can do more to reduce waste and help save the planet.

Plus at the end of last year, most of the population vowed to bag a charity shop bargain rather than buy brand new in a bid to be more environmentally friendly.

But millions of shoppers still believe being green is too expensive and claim they can’t afford to be more eco-conscious.


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