Function of beauty presents itself as a sustainable brand that strives to be “clean, ethical, and sustainable in everything that [they] do”. They also further specified this which is promising, by claiming they are cruelty-free, 100% vegan, sulfate and paraben-free, customized in the USA, sustainability-focused, and dermatologist tested. Although the ‘social mission’ section of their website could use some additions to how they contribute actively to sustainability, the methods and standards they set for their products are admirable and show a real effort to use sustainable practices.
Function of Beauty’s shampoo and conditioner come in both an 8oz bottle and a 16oz bottle, and are made out of different materials. The 16oz bottles are made from Premium PCR (standing for post-consumer recycled) material and the 8oz from 100% recyclable PETE-grade plastic. They also state that the 8oz bottles were to be transitioned to using Premium PCR material by mid-2021, which has not been directly confirmed on their website as of yet. Hopefully, they stayed true to their claim, but an update would show truer transparency to their clients. PCR plastic is preferable to using new plastic, as it reduces the amount of waste produced and collected. A further step towards sustainability would be in providing solid bar options for their products, which do not require plastic packaging. The bottles come packaged in a Kraft box, which is made up of 30% post-consumer recycled materials, and is in itself 100% recyclable.
They are rigorous in the safety standards of their ingredients, opting to abide by the European Union safe cosmetics regulations, which have over 1400 ingredients banned from beauty products, rather than the standards set in the USA which have only 11 banned ingredients. As the products unique selling point is the customizability of both the shampoo and conditioner, it is difficult to find a comprehensive list of every ingredient they use in their products on the website. However, all of their ingredients are formulated without sulfates, parabens, phthalates or gluten, and are always certified vegan and cruelty-free. These claims are impressive amongst the scope for current sustainable hair-care options. They also use over 60 natural ingredients in their custom formulations and have an option to use natural fragrances. However, Function of beauty can face being more transparent by providing a glossary of ingredients they use in their formulations, as I could not find any further details about the specific ingredients which would be in my own formulation.
There are detailed instructions on how to recycle each of their products on the blog section of their website which is a useful feature to include. Also, there are options to go dye-free when creating your products and to use natural scents. As Function of Beauty commits to being “customized in the USA”, this ensures the products are made under the USA’s regulations for labour. The company has headquarters in New York, but has a manufacturing plant in rural Pennsylvania, which they claim provides “many jobs to small-town America”.
Their website also contains a “no list”, which consists of 40 questionable or harmful chemicals they will not use in their products. Although this is a helpful indication of rigorous standards for the ingredients used in their products, I struggled to find any information about the actual supply chain of the ingredients used in their products; this would substantially increase the companies transparency by having that information readily available. The only information on their website about the sourcing of their products is a claim which states that ingredients are responsibly sourced “where possible”- this is a vague statement that would benefit from clarification about which ingredients are not sourced responsibly, and what they are planning to do about it.
Under the ‘social mission’ portion of their website, they state ‘girl start’ as their partner; this organization is focused on educating, exposing and exciting young girls about STEM. Although this is a noble cause, I would like to see further social missions specified in this section, to indicate a more active attempt to positively affect important issues surrounding sustainability.
I was unable to find a CSR or employee report to evidence ethical treatment of employees at Function of Beauty, however, from 26 reviews on glassdoor.co.uk, they have achieved 3.8 out of 5 stars. Although this is a limited statistic due to the small sample size, it is at least a promising sign that their employee conditions are ethical.
More active and quantifiable figures and facts are also needed on the website, as this would help exemplify how they are achieving their claims of being sustainability-focused.