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Is bareMinerals a Sustainable & Clean Brand?

Better Goods

May 6, 2021

bareminerals

bareMinerals is one of the best-known mineral-makeup brands, launched in 1995 by Bare Escentuals, which in turn was founded back in 1976 in San Francisco. The main goal of the brand was to create a line of makeup brands that reduced skin irritability through using less harmful and harsh chemicals. The brand was eventually purchased in 2010 by Shiseido for $1.7 billion USD .

bareMinerals places a strong emphasis on “natural” and “clean” products, stating on their website that they were behind the “clean beauty revolution” back in 1995, since then continuing to create clean, cruelty-free products. While not claiming to be organic, and with no extravagant and obvious references to being sustainable, the company nonetheless writes that their products are free from harsh chemicals and unnecessary additives.

So how does bareMinerals rate in terms of the quality of their ingredients, adherence to sustainability, and animal rights? We investigated the brand using these three pillars and summarize our findings for you below:

Ingredients (Rating: Bad)

bareMinerals lists on their website the range of harmful chemicals absent from their products – paraben, phthalate, formaldehyde, chemical sunscreen, triclosan, triclocarban, propylene glycol, mineral oil, coal- tar and microbeads. Delving deeper, while ingredients can be found on their website, these do not seem to be comprehensive, and requires quite some clicking. Once again, the main focus is on the dangerous chemicals not found in the product, with a spotlight on the active minerals that deliver practical benefits.

From our research, we found that the bareMinerals range is a mixed bag in terms of ingredients. While there are some products within the range that are relatively free from harmful chemicals, are benign in terms of triggering allergies and do not interfere with endocrine processes, there are many others for which this is not the case. This is by no means an holistic look at all ingredients that bareMinerals uses. However, we recommend avoiding the following in particular:

Fragrance

A range of fragrances are used in many bareMinerals products that could have fairly substantial effects upon the body. Because "fragrance" is used as an umbrella term to hide the exact chemical makeup of the fragrance used, we always recommend avoiding such products. These are found throughout their range and it is recommended that you read the ingredients before making a purchase.

Artificial colorings (which are petroleum-derived), talc, sodium hydroxide, and cyclotetrasiloxane (which is harmful to aquatic life) are other ingredients you'll find in bareMinerals products.

Sustainability (Rating: Iffy)

bareMinerals is venturing out into a more holistic view on sustainability, reducing in 2020 the amount of plastic used in their holiday collection. According to their website, the holiday collection eschews unnecessary packaging, uses recycled rather than virgin plastic, and where possible uses paper. In turn, such paper material is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council – denoting that material is derived from locations and using methods that protect habitats, prevent pollution, plant more trees than are harvested, and avoid harming wildlife or displacing native people. They write that so far, they have recycled over 44,000 pounds of plastic through their year-round Give Back, Get Back Recycling Program.

Furthermore, bareMinerals writes that for every purchase made in one of their boutiques or on their website, they donate 1% to The Power of Good Fund by bareMinerals, to help empower women around the world through education, mentorship and entrepreneurship.

While this certainly sounds great, the problem here is one of scalability. What percentage of products sold belongs to their holiday collection is not known, nor is how 44,000 pounds of plastic measures against the quantity of plastic used by such a large global brand. Their efforts thus far are described by the company as their “start”, hopefully this process of eliminating plastics will develop across their entire range of products – until such a point, it is not possible to rate this company highly with regards to sustainability.

Animal Rights (Rating: Iffy)

Cruelty-Free

bareMinerals does not test on animals, and nor do any other companies or organizations along their supply chain. Nor are their products sold in countries that test on animals. bareMinerals’ parent company – Shiseido – does however test on animals.

Vegan

bareMinerals does not have a blanket commitment to using vegan products. Although there are some vegan products available, make-ups often contain animal-derived ingredients and brushes contain animal hair.

Brand Ratings

Our rating scale ranges from "Best" (for having the best practices) to "Bad" (for having unacceptable practices). We rated bareMinerals as follows.

INGREDIENTSBad - Virtually every product the brand offers contains a number of ingredients we recommend avoiding.
SUSTAINABILITYIffy - While the brand has trialed a more sustainable method of packaging, this would need to be rolled-out across the entire range of products before the brand as a whole can be rated higher
ANIMAL RIGHTSIffy - The brand is cruelty-free and offers some vegan products. Nonetheless, there are many products that are not vegan.

Overall Rating: Iffy

Despite a commendable project to reduce plastic packaging used on their holiday range, a holistic commitment across their entire range is absent. While their commitment to animal rights is also commendable, not all products are vegan. There are also a number of troubling ingredients that should be avoided.

 
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