Ilia boasts on their company website and in CEO interviews of their use of sustainable ingredients and ingredient transparency, yet it was difficult to find concise information regarding where their ingredients are sourced. Ilia’s sustainable packing and recycling program is forward thinking and intentional, but I think it could be improved upon by incentivizing sending products back via discounts or insights on new products released. Furthermore, I would like to see Ilia integrate more supply chain circularity, or share information about this on their website. Ilia’s use of natural and organic ingredients reduces downstream environmental impact and appeals to a wide customer base. Overall, there is room for this product to be improved upon especially regarding source transparency.
Ilia’s Limitless Mascara Ingredients list is refreshingly brief and transparent. Almost all ingredients in this mascara are certified organic. This organic certification, however, is not inherently sustainable without external information on where each ingredient is sourced. While it does ensure that raw products are free of pesticides and herbicides (environmental polluters), it does not reduce further agriculture related environmental externalities. Upon emailing with Ilia’s sustainability team, I learned that they sell through the EU as well as the US, which requires strict trace evaluation and ingredient transparency. Furthermore, each of their manufacturers are required to disclose supplier certificates that ensure ethical working and environmental conditions. Yet without knowing what certifications they are requiring to deem their suppliers ethical, this information is unreliable. The most concerning ingredient on this list is carnauba oil, better known as palm oil, and it is notorious for its South American deforestation and negative environmental impact. Despite these concerns, this product’s ingredients received a 1 because Ilia is using organic plant based (excluding beeswax) materials as opposed to harmful chemicals that eventually contaminate water supplies, and they are transparent on what is in this mascara. Until Ilia discloses where their ingredients are coming from and how they determine if they are ethical, their score must remain the same.
Ilia’s limitless mascara is made in Italy, in organic certified labs. This product is cruelty free certified by the leaping bunny, a certification which provides a clear standard for what it means to be animal friendly. Ilia fails to clearly disclose where their raw materials are sourced, but they do require certifications to prove their suppliers are ethical- yet without knowing these certifications, this is only face value. Makeup products tend to be difficult to recycle and mainstream makeup products contain harmful chemicals that end up in landfills, water systems, and our bodies (forever!). Ilia is combatting this waste via their Tetracycle Zero Waste Box recycling program, which requires customers to send back their empty, hard to recycle, packaging back to Ilia. Once sent back, Tetracycle breaks down these products and they are ready for reuse. This is a great program that promotes ideas of supply chain circularity and decreased waste footprint, and I think this could be more at the forefront of their business core.
Ilia is a female founded beauty brand, founded in response to a lack of genuinely clean, holistic beauty products. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Ilia founder and CEO Sasha Plavsic says sustainability has been a part of Ilia, but “it needs to be stronger. In this industry there needs to be big improvements.” As a whole, Ilia is approaching sustainable beauty in the right way, yet they have room to grow their sustainability endeavors as global supply chains evolve. From information on their website and speaking with their sustainability team, it seems that they demand some level of ethical transparency from their suppliers and are seeking to reduce waste via their Tetracycle Zero Waste Box recycling program. Sustainability is beyond just creating a product that fosters a safe environmental future, it also means investing profit into communities and environmental action.Ilia executed this idea this year in their 51,000-tree partnership with One Tree Planted. A danger in sustainability analytics lies in comparison, a genuinely sustainable business should not be deemed sustainable only against its competition. Rather, a sustainable business blazes a new trail, sets a new standard, and redefines corporate value. In Ilia’s case this mascara is indeed sustainable against their counterparts, yet individually they must have increased transparency of where they are sourcing materials, who they are employing, and where they have room to improve.