Posted on 14th April 2021

Focus on Hair and Make-up: Introduction

Part of the Hair and Make-up department? Guest writer Khandiz Joni gives us an overview of how to get started with sustainability in your role in the first of seven in depth articles

If we talk about sustainability in Hair and Makeup – what do we actually mean? What is the breadth of the opportunity here?

We hear a lot about how wasteful the fashion & textile industry is, but what we seldom think about is our end use of hair and makeup products – and what impact they are having on the planet, animals (including biodiversity loss) and our very own health. There is so much (mis)information out there that it is easy to get overwhelmed and become complacent about making sound social, environmental and health choices.  So, when we talk about sustainability in hair and makeup, we need to consider various aspects and make informed decisions based on a number of different factors, which will change from production to production. 

From the actual ingredients used in the products (how they are extracted, water usage, what feedstock they come from, how they are tested, how they are synthesised and if they are safe to use – both on our bodies and if they are bioaccumulative in the environment), the container, additional packaging, freight and shipping, product use (whether it’s something we are able to finish or does most of the product gets wasted?), how we dispose of product and what we manage the recycling of the packaging.

Of course, needing products that deliver on speciality needs and high-performance can pose challenges for the departments, as “clean and green beauty,” albeit, efficient, cannot always provide the product performance required for certain makeup looks or specific actions –  but there are also lots of opportunities to mitigate departmental impact.

Switching to “clean beauty”* products when and where appropriate and ensuring consumables are used more efficiently and unavoidable single-use items are made from renewable feedstocks that can also biodegrade are easy wins. 

Sustainability in the hair and makeup department needs to be holistic. Silo-thinking may allow you to switch to “cleaner” products but unless approached in a strategic way can be just as wasteful. 

*Products (including manufacture and packaging) made with integrity for people, the planet and animals. Clean products don’t contain any suspected toxic ingredients, and are by their nature cruelty free.

There is no legal definition or certification for this terminology, but for the context of this article, ‘clean beauty’ will refer to products made using green chemistry, with a limited impact on human and environmental health

Is the advice different for those working on Film, TV, Commercials to the advice we see online from beauty bloggers for the average person?

As any hair and makeup artist working in film, TV or commercials will know, what beauty bloggers are promoting is personal preference. They are showcasing how a product/s looks on their own faces in a static pose and usually with a single, constant light source. When it comes to film application, consideration needs to be taken into lighting, location, action, environment, time constraints and products that work on a wide range of skin types, skin tones, and, in today’s enlightened landscape, personal ideologies.


Naturally, we all need to consider the ingredients being used in our products. H&M Artists will need to consider if the actor has any allergies to certain ingredients (natural or synthetic). Other things to consider with ingredients is if they are sourced sustainably (in ways that don’t negatively impact the environment or biodiversity loss) and ethically (how the ingredients were sourced: if there has been animal or human-rights abuses in the collection/extraction of raw ingredients).

"Vegan" Beauty Products

Vegan beauty is also a potential misnomer. While many people are switching to certified vegan beauty products, too often there has been no consideration if the vegan ingredients are being made from synthetic (petroleum-based) chemicals, which are hugely impactful on the environment and in some instances, human health. With regard to the definition of “sustainable” consideration needs to be taken for vegan products into what animal-derived ingredients are being replaced, with what, and why? For instance, using products with sustainably, ethically sourced beeswax and/or honey is better for the entire ecosystem than synthetic beeswax or natural waxes that have to be shipped across the world and (again, when sourced unsustainably or unethically) have huge social and environmental impacts. The key point here is that ingredients should not negatively impact animal or human rights and should be made from a sustainable, renewable, plant-based source wherever possible.

Stay tuned for the next article in this series where we’ll be focusing on…packaging

Khandiz Joni

Multidisciplinary artist + Sustainability Professional

About the author

Khandiz is a qualified sustainability professional and has been a hair and makeup artist for two decades. Prior to studying makeup, she attended art school. Her work marries conceptual art and thought-provoking narratives using eco-beauty alternatives.

She is a founding member of the Conscious Beauty Union and runs VUJÀ DÉ Creative Solutions

Find out more about Khandiz at her website

Khandiz Joni

Multidisciplinary artist + Sustainability Professional