Cosmetics & Toiletries

Image: Cosmetics Report 

Last updated: February 2017



Cosmetics and Toiletries


A cosmetic product – as defined by the EU Cosmetic Regulation – is “any substance intended to be applied to external parts of the body with a view to changing [a person’s] appearance.”

These products are often described in wonderful terms by companies, such as “helping you achieve beauty”[2] or reducing “the look of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes and dark spots.”[3]




In 2015, cosmetics companies in the UK spent over £50 million on advertising.[4] While wearing make-up is a personal choice, the ambition of companies to sell their products has received criticism for claiming unrealistic expectations of their products and leading women to feel less attractive if they do not wear make-up.[5] More worryingly, this has had an effect on how young girls view themselves.

In 2013, a study revealed that approximately 20% of girls between 8 and 18 who wear make-up felt “unappealing, undesirable and simply not confident when they are not wearing make-up.”[6] Simon Birch discusses cosmetic marketing and the impact this has on young girls on our blog. 


Ethical issues

We have focused on three major issues that crop up in this industry; the use of palm oil, toxic chemicals, and animal testing. You can read more on these issues by clicking on the links below. 


Animal Testing

Image: Animal Testing

Global Report on Test Bans

Michelle Thew from Cruelty Free International explains how the test bans are now spreading around the world.

Read More


Toxic Beauty

Image: toxic chemicals

Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

We list four toxic chemicals to look out for in your cosmetics.

Read More


Palm Oil

Image: Palm Oil

The Problem with Palm Oil

We explain why it is an issue and which brands receive our worst rating for its palm oil policies.

Read More


What is Mica?

Image: Eye Shadow

Issue of Child Labour in Mica Industry

Which brands are using Mica sourced from illegal mines to make its cosmetic products?

Read More


Latest on Microbeads

Image: Microbeads

Action on Microbeads

Which brands are not doing enough to get rid of microbeads in products?

Read More


Product Guides


Ethical shopping guide to skincare

Ethical and environmental ratings for 58 skincare products covering moisturiser, lotions and cleansers plus Best Buy recommendations. 

Read More



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