Ilia is an emerging trendy “skin-centric” makeup brand that prides themselves in transparency and inclusivity. I first discovered Ilia when my roommate was obsessing over their super serum skin tint (with SPF of course) that she purchased from their website. All of Ilia’s products have great reviews and customers are raving about them on social media. With this prominent influence, Ilia has the potential to make a positive impact on their consumers by educating them about the environment and sustainability. Ilia highlights a few environmental campaigns, but I was disappointed about the lack of social initiatives and information on their website. Because Ilia is such a new brand, however, I’m going to give them a little bit of slack since they are showing incentive to improve. I have high expectations for Ilia and I’m excited to see how they’ll make strides towards environmental and social stewardship.
The multi stick, along with all other Ilia products, is made out of a combination of organic and synthetic ingredients. Ilia claims on their page that “ not every natural ingredient is good for the skin, nor is every synthetic bad”. Although this may be true for your skin, it’s not true regarding the environment. Some of the synthetic coloring additives, such as FD&C Yellow No. 5 (Ci 19140) and Red 28 (Ci 45410), have shown evidence of causing developmental and reproductive toxicity, in addition to immunotoxicity and allergies when used in large amounts. These ingredients, which were originally derived from coal, are derived from petroleum, a crude oil that is extracted from the earth via fracking or another energy and carbon intensive process. The Environmental Working Group rated Ilia’s multi stick as a 3 on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the worst. They grade holistically, taking into account the ingredients, manufacturing processes and the company’s transparency. 3 is a relatively good score, but the multi stick is still categorized as a moderately hazardous product. Apart from the coloring additives and waxes used in the product, the ingredients in the multi stick are organically sourced and have little to no effect on the environment and consumer.
All of Ilia’s products are certified by Leaping Bunny as non animal tested. Leaping Bunny is an authoritative third party organization that certifies companies as “non animal tested” based on their extensive criteria, which includes complying to audits and ingredient tracing. Most Ilia products, including the Multi Stick, are manufactured in organic certified labs within the U.S.; they don’t mention where specifically. Manufacturing in the United States means that transportation costs and emissions are reduced. Ilia claims on their website that they “strive towards more sustainable packaging through the use of recycled aluminum, glass components, and responsibly sourced paper”. However, there is no other information about their packaging other than this. Ilia does offer a recycling program with the Pact Collective, where consumers can send back empty makeup containers to be processed so that they can be recycled. Recycling (or lake thereof) of makeup products and cosmetics is often an issue because makeup residue can make them unable to be recycled, so most beauty products end up in a landfill. Ilia’s partnership with Pact Collective allows for full circularity in their manufacturing and reduces waste.
Ilia has gained attention as a female founded brand that promotes inclusivity and individuality. Ilia is based on the concept that makeup should be good for the skin. With a multitude of shades within each product, Ilia provides their consumers with a skincare and beauty product in one. There is no information on their website about their labor practices, which is usually a bad sign. However, labor regulations and quality of life is higher for factory workers in the United Sates that it would be in Asian countries, where most large companies manufacture. Although sustainability should not be based on comparison, it reflects well on Ilia that they are choosing not to support the labor concerns common in Asian countries, such as child labor and modern slavery. I have, unfortunately, not been able to find any other sources about their labor practices or methods. Ilia has also launched their 1% campaign, which donates 1% of their Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 proceeds to environmental causes, such as reforestation. They are partnering with One Tree Planted to restore forests in the Amazon Rainforests in Brazil and Ecuador. Founded in 2011, Ilia is taking initiative in their communities to promote environmental mindfulness and sustainability. Their 1% campaign is a great step towards the right direction, but I definitely want to see more from Ilia.