Usually a company’s whole “I’m ethical and I’m clean” persona is severely short-lived after one google search... okay, maybe two. Unfortunately for Ilia’s Soft Focus Finishing Powder, there was nothing special about their brand in terms of sustainability. While they acknowledge their role in the a products life cycle and the transparency for their packaging was great, there was still a lot of missing information in the production process and the treatment of their workers.
One ingredient that I try to watch out for in powder based products is talc. The ingredient is controversial because there’s been studies where abestos has been found in talc and high inhalation of products can lead to cancer. However, for Ilia they specifically mention they’re talc free. As for the ingredients that are on the list, I could for once, recognize the words because most of it was organic. Usually I see a bunch of scientific names and I want to just check out, but Ilia used common words like “rose” and “sunflower” which is honestly very different from what I see in face powder ingredients. It really showed that they weren’t trying to hide something and that they want their customers to really understand what they’re buying. Again, it was all very refreshing.
As for their packaging, their website said they use glass, recycled aluminum, and paper. Again I really have to say it was nice that I didn’t have to go on some type of witch hunt to find out what packages the company uses. Another really great feature about their concern for sustainability is that they acknowledge that the whole life cycle of a product is in important. They’re taking responsibility for not only where and how the product is made but also for what happens after the customer is done using the product. Right now they partnered with TerraCycle and customers can mail in up to 5 items/month with a prepaid label that’s on their website. The item doesn’t even have to be from their company too! It was really easy to follow and really nice to see a company who acknowledges their faults instead of trying to sell a tale of perfection to their customers. Ilia sets the standard that all makeup companies should be following with their simple ingredients, their recycling program, and their transparency.
On their website, Ilia says their products are mainly manufactured in the US with a handful of exceptions from different countries. The soft focusing finishing powder wasn’t one of the exceptions, so it’s most likely made in the US, but it’s never specified. There’s also not a lot of information about the actual production of the powder, so it’s hard to determine if it’s consistent with their “ethical” image. Also, all Ilia products claim to be cruelty free and most are gluten-free and vegan. I want to note that most companies that call their products cruelty free isn’t 100% true because when they sell to other countries, they need to follow that country’s regulations and sometimes that includes testing on animals by law. However most companies never tell you that and you usually find out through the another source. With Ilia it’s different because they are “leaping bunny” certified which is the most trusted certification you can get for non-animal tested products. Leaping bunny is also strict about making sure all policies and procedures are consistent with every product and make sure it’s followed in every country they sell in.
It’s important to note that there’s still missing information about how they source their materials and what actually goes into the production. There’s still more work to be done by Ilia.
Ilia manufactures its products mostly in the US, but a few products are made in Canada, China, Italy, and Korea. They even provide the exact list of products on their FAQ page. However, there’s nothing about their labor practices, so I don’t know how the workers are being treated. So Ilia should work on being more transparent about working conditions. As for the owner, Sasha, her own dissatisfaction with current makeup brands ignited her desire to create a brand that was clean, that was sustainable, and that acknowledges its own shortcomings. Her story can resonate with any makeup enthusiast and nature lover, that we find ourselves struggling to make choices that not only fulfill our desires but our morals as well. However, while her intentions are admirable, Ilia has a lot room for improvement.