The popular hair care brand, Biolage, prides itself on using bio-based ingredients. Their advertising of using natural ingredients makes the company appear to consumers as an environmentally friendly shampoo option. Looking deeper into the company, one can see that Biolage might not be as sustainable as the company wants to appear. Overall, Biolage does do a lot of great things environmentally that are important to mention, however, they also have a lot of imperfections.
The Colorlast Shampoo from Biolage contains ingredients that are all 85% biodegradable. Their shampoos are paraben free which is great because they have been shown to cause breast cancer and can damage coral reefs. However, looking at the ingredient list, the shampoo contains some harmful ingredients like fragrance and sodium laureth sulfate. Fragrances are bad for the environment because it does not specify what chemicals are involved in creating the smell. Therefore, the environmental consequences are unknown. Many chemicals involved in fragrance have been found to be toxic and can disrupt reproduction, development, and hormone release. Additionally, the Colorlast shampoo contains sulfates which are harmful to aquatic life, which is concerning because the shampoo is used in connection to the water supply that will return back to the ocean. Sodium laureth sulfate, specifically, also contains the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. So, while it is amazing Biolage is using more biodegradable ingredients, they could work to make all ingredients biodegradable. Also, their shampoo still contains many environmental hazards. In addition, Biolage makes no mention that their ingredients are organic, vegan, or cruelty free which is pretty common in personal care products these days. One must assume that Biolage does not uphold their ingredients to those standards from their lack of transparency. It would be nice to see, at the very least, Biolage expanding to include these issues as they are simply expected from many beauty products in today’s world.
In regards to their packaging, Biolage works to minimize the amount of plastic in their shampoo bottles. 95% of the plastic used to make up the bottles is post-consumer recycled, excluding the caps, and all their bottles can be recycled again. The company states that they aim to get that percentage to 100% by 2022. It is good to see Biolage working towards more sustainable packaging for their products.
Biolage’s primary manufacturing plant is located in the United States which is more sustainable than international manufacturing. Manufacturing within the country allows for shorter distances of transportation which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Their location in Kentucky is completely powered by solar power. For all their manufacturing facilities, 58% obtain their energy from renewable energy and have reduced their water consumption by 37% since 2005. Additionally, Biolage is continuing to work to make more of their manufacturers run on renewable energy. Biolage’s commitment to renewable energy sources is a step in the right direction in terms of manufacturing.
However, Biolage lacks transparency by offering no information on their labor practices in any manufacturing plant. We can assume that their facilities in the United States uphold all the US labor laws, but what about their plants in foreign countries? I wish Biolage would disclose the information surrounding the labor conditions of their manufacturers and enforce policies such as having fair wages, protection from trafficking and exploitation, and outlawing child labor to name a few. Their lack of transparency makes the company seem like they are unwilling to meet very basic labor necessities.
Biolage is a company owned by L’Oreal. Looking at the L’Oreal website, the company seems to be implementing a variety of sustainability goals. By 2025, they claim that all of their sites, including Biolage, will achieve carbon neutrality through energy efficiency and utilizing renewable energy sources. Additionally, by 2030, the company states that they will make sure that 95% of their ingredients are bio-based. The company also states that those bio-based ingredients and packaging will come from sustainable sources- none contributing to deforestation- by 2030 as well. In terms of plastic waste, L’Oreal pledges that by 2030, 100% of their plastic used in packaging will be from recycled or bio-based sources. I do wish L’Oreal would explain more how they are planning to accomplish these goals. However, based off comparisons from past to present years, I think these goals are possible for L’Oreal to accomplish even though they are very ambitious. In addition, L’Oreal vows to invest money in worldwide challenges- by 2030 the company will have invested 50 million euros to support highly vulnerable women, 50 million euros to restore one million hectares of degraded ecosystems, and another 50 million to finance projects that promote more circular economies. Looking at L’Oreal, they are doing so many great things environmentally, and it appears like the company is working hard to become more sustainable. One problem with L’Oreal is that, again, it lacks improvements in the labor sector. I would like L’Oreal to state more goals on how to make life better and more equitable for their employees. Overall, L’Oreal and Biolage are making important steps in becoming more sustainable. They have their shortcomings, but one can applaud their overall effort.