“Sustainable,” “Natural,” “Organic,” “Clean,” “Cruelty-free.” More and more beauty brands are finding ways to leave our planet a healthier and happier place. Where exactly do J-Beauty brands stand as we cruise into 2024, and what have they done to take action? Let’s look beyond the labels below.
Sustainable can mean a lot of things, but includes product ingredients that were sourced sustainably, sourced ethically, minimize waste, and are proven to be safe for the environment. The definition extends to product packaging as well. Given the broad spectrum of sustainability, there are many ways brands can contribute towards preserving the earth and its resources.
Mutenka Sekken is the perfect example of a J-Beauty brand making waves in sustainability. This artisanal soap maker uses less packaging and is free of containers. If you’ve ever dismissed bar soaps due to their sudsy reputation and mass-produced feel, you’ll want to give Mutenka a chance. These handmade face-and-body soaps are formulated with a blend of plant extracts and oils, and produce a luxurious creamy lather that leaves your skin ultra-hydrated. Lavender, hinoki, and sake are just a few of the scents the brand carries.
Beauty products that include nature-derived ingredients are considered natural. While harnessing the power of mother nature has taken on a trend in the western skincare industry in
recent years, it has traditionally been part and parcel of the Japanese approach towards beauty. In other words, nature-derived ingredients are nothing new for J-Beauty brands. In fact, consumers in Japan tend to value products that tap into their local natural resources, such as camelia oil, sake, and green tea. With many brands carrying on the wisdom of the past, natural ingredients in skincare products seems to be the rule rather than exception with J-Beauty brands (which also makes it difficult to provide a complete list of J-Beauty products and brands). We just recommend that you know the active ingredients in your products, and what issues they address.
Products that contain organically grown ingredients, free from pesticides and chemicals, can be defined as organic. And yes, J-Beauty brands have been making strides to shift towards organic skincare. Take the KITAO Matcha series, for example. Their collection utilizes only ECOCERT certified organic matcha harvested in the Uji region of Kyoto, Japan. Uji’s history of organic tea cultivation goes way back – they have consistently upkept their organic, pesticide-free cultivation for over 350 years. Uji matcha has been considered the finest of its kind since the 14th century, due to its purity and premium-grade quality.
Yamamoto Farm’s KOMACHI Konjac Sponges are derived from 100% organic konjac grown in Japan’s Gunma prefecture. This porous root vegetable is a popular detox food in Japan due to its high fiber and low caloric content, but it’s also an ecofriendly exfoliating sponge that can be used on face and body for a smooth soft glow. Biodegradable konjac sponges like KOMACHI’s purifying charcoal one can be tossed out with your compost once they’ve run their course.
Clean beauty definitions vary, but products that are free of substances toxic to human and environmental health are generally considered “clean.” We can see several emerging J-Beauty brands keeping their clean standards high, with entire collections free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, refined petroleum, and other notorious offenders.
Like clean beauty, cruelty-free is a spectrum, but includes products free of ingredients that have been tested on animals, as well as products free of animal-derived substances extracted at the expense of animal welfare. Take a look at the UNNATURALLY NATURAL line for the perfect example of a vegan J-Beauty brand working towards cruelty-free production of skincare products. The brand also boasts an extensive list of exluded ingredients to uphold their clean, animal-friendly, earth-friendly, and human-friendly philosophy.
As you can see, each niche provides a unique way to make – or rather minimize – impact on the world. Just like these brands, we too can play our part, simply by choosing brands and products that align with our ethics, one bottle (or jar or tube) at a time.