Blog Series: Brand Ethics

This is a series I have thought about for awhile and am finally starting work on. Hearing the news of Kat Von D’s anti-vaxx antics was what finally pushed me to start brainstorming and jotting down how I wanted to do this, what I wanted to focus on, and why this was important to me.

I’ve always cared immensely about the ethics of companies and organizations, even before I really knew the word for it. In my last semester of university I had the opportunity to take an ethics in public relations course, and this just reiterated to me how important it is for myself as a consumer to support ethical companies and how easy it is for companies of all shapes and sizes to make very, very unethical decisions. My money and what I choose to purchase with my hard-earned cash is very important to me, and I want to feel comfortable with how those products got to me and what the company that created that product represents.

However, there’s an overwhelming amount of information on the web about makeup companies, and every time I make a purchase from a new brand I find myself frantically googling and searching Youtube for reasons why I should or should not support them. With this series I don’t want to come off as commanding people to buy or not buy from certain brands, but I do want to provide some information for people to consider when purchasing from these brands, as I know for a fact that ethics are important to many other beauty consumers that I’ve met online and in person.

If you’re kind of unsure of what exactly falls under the ethics umbrella, don’t worry, it’s a very broad subject and to be honest, I’m no professor of it. Merriam-Webster describes ethics as “the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.” For myself, I think that any company but particularly makeup companies have a moral obligation and duty to a few different groups:

1. People: This is a fairly broad category, and many different groups of people fall under this category. The general public, consumers, employees, and the immediate community surrounding the company (whether it be the geographical location of the stores or offices of the company, or the online community the company finds itself within) should all be respected by any decent company, in my opinion.

2. Animals: I think it’s important for makeup companies to have a do-no-harm approach when it comes to wildlife. If you’re torturing living creatures by testing products on them, destroying their habitats and food sources, or straight up using their bodies to create products, that just doesn’t sit right with me.

3. Environment: This ties in a bit with the second category, but I do think it is important for companies to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact when possible.

So, what will I make note of when looking at each brand?

  • Who owns it. What is that person’s personal ethics? If owned by another company, does that company have a good track record?
  • Whether or not their products are sustainable, cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, ocean-friendly, etc.
  • Marketing campaigns in recent years from the company and whether or not they are inclusive and intersectional.
  • Employee reviews and testimonies from their time working at the company as found on Youtube, GlassDoor, and other platforms.
  • Shade selection.
  • Known scandals and how they were handled.
  • Environmental and community initiatives or lack thereof.
  • Past and present collaborations. This is a really juicy one to me, as collaborations are very deliberate. You are actively seeking out that person to creatively and superficially represent your brand, and if that person has questionable beliefs or interests then you either support those beliefs or interests, or don’t care enough about your consumers to research who you collaborate with and make sure that they’re a good person and a good fit.

This series will probably be slowly published as it will take a fair bit of researching and I want to do a thorough job. If you have any suggestions of brands I should look at, books or articles I should read related to ethics, or things I should consider in my series, please send me a comment! I’d love to incorporate your feedback.