The Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r foundation is a vanity staple for many makeup lovers like myself, but there is much left to be desired in their commitment to sustainability. Though the product performs very well aesthetically, it is disappointing to see how use of the foundation contributes microplastics into their ocean. Fenty can also improve on their transparency in their production trail and labor practices. The lack of transparency is surprising, as this foundation is so popular and present in every makeup-lover’s vanity, yet such sparse research and information is known about the ingredients and production process. Looking forward, I hope to see Fenty disclose their complete Code of Conduct and expand that transparency into the rest of their supply chain.
The full ingredients list of the Pro Filt’r foundation is provided on the product page on both _Fenty Beauty_ (https://www.fentybeauty.com/pro-filtr-soft-matte-longwear-foundation/FB30006.html) and their major retailer, _Sephora_ (https://www.sephora.com/product/pro-filtr-soft-matte-longwear-foundation-P87985432?country_switch=us&lang=en&skuId=1925411&om_mmc=ppc-GG_1918211490_102408953005_pla-327979454562_1925411_447984098040_9067609_c&ds_rl=1261471&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjqb529mF7AIVhIvICh1nzwiBEAQYASABEgIcPPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds). The long list is difficult to navigate individually, but the major components for this foundation (and for many other popular foundations) are talc, trimethylsiloxysilicate, and combinations of different forms of dimethicone. Trimethylsiloxysilicate is not well studied, but it is widely used in cosmetics as a skin conditioner. Dimethicone provides the silky smooth feel of a skin product, and is also popular in skin and hair products. To add to the silky foundation feel, talc is a mineral used to absorb skin oils and make the product easier to apply. Unfortunately, both dimethicone and trimethylsiloxysilicate are synthetic silicons. Because cosmetics are to be applied and washed off daily, including dimethicone and Trimethylsiloxysilicate as a popular ingredient means they will be washed down the drain. As silicons, these two ingredients are essentially microplastics going down the drain that may be released into the ocean. Furthermore, talc is also known to be linked to ovarian cancer in women. Johnson and Johnson ceased production in their talc-based baby powder following a _lawsuit_ (https://www.npr.org/2020/05/19/859182015/johnson-johnson-stops-selling-talc-based-baby-powder-in-u-s-and-canada) concerning its role in ovarian cancer in its users.
Fenty Beauty also claims that the Pro Filt’r Foundation is vegan and cruelty free, with their cruelty free status extending to their suppliers and affiliates. Their cruelty free status has recently entered a bit of controversy, as rumors of Fenty Beauty’s global expansion into China has emerged. The Chinese cosmetic market requires all imported and non-imported cosmetics to be animal tested for safety, and such an expansion could compromise such cruelty free status. Currently, Fenty Beauty’s Asia expansion has only reached Macau and Hong Kong, both countries where animal testing is not required. As of right now, Fenty Beauty and the Pro Filt’r Foundation retains its cruelty free status.
Though Fenty’s possible expansion into China is a matter for the future, it raises current questions for the cruelty status of the products and brand: Can the Pro Filt’r Foundation still be considered cruelty free if it is animal tested in one country but not another? How will that sentiment be expressed legally and to consumers?
Fenty Beauty is not publicity explicit about where and how it sources each ingredient of the Pro Filt’r foundation. The bottle I personally own says it is made in Italy, but there is no public information that can clarify if the ingredients were assembled together in Italy, or whether all or some of the ingredients were also sourced from and then combined in Italy. I also purchased my product from my local Sephora in San Francisco, which, aside from the production emissions associated with sourcing and creating the product, also means there are additional emissions in exporting the product from Italy to the United States.
Fenty does mention that they are working to reduce new plastic generation by incorporating recycled plastics in their product packaging. This is true for the cardboard packaging outside of the Pro Filt’r foundation bottle which claims to contain post-consumer recycled material, but I am in touch with Fenty Beauty to verify whether that is also true for the glass-like component that stores that actual foundation.
Update: Fenty has responded to my email inquiry and stated that their foundation bottle is made of fully recyclable glass. They advised me to remove the plastic cap and pump before recycling, which implies that only the glass body of the component is actually recyclable, and the cap and pump are not. To me, this is a rather particular design choice. If Fenty can have the body of their bottle be fully recyclable, why not have that extended to the cap and pump as well? It is not common to see glass caps and pumps in cosmetics, but there are other versions of plastics that are relatively recyclable, and I’m left curious about why Fenty did not choose them.
Fenty Beauty does not publicly disclose the suppliers of their ingredients nor the facilities they use to produce their Pro Filt’r foundation. We do know that they source labor and supplies from outside their company as their statement in compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 states that they communicate their required code of conduct to their suppliers. However, there is no copy of this required code of conduct available for public viewing. Fenty only mentions that the code of conduct is specific about preventing slave labor, human trafficking, and harassment, but no details are provided to support such claims. This lack of transparency does not mean that Fenty is not following responsible labor practices, but that is also not sufficient enough evidence to say that they are. Overall, there is something to be suspicious about the brand not releasing a labor code of conduct that they seem to be assertive about.