How to Be a Sustainable Beauty Brand: Emma Lewisham Review AD | Lab Muffin Beauty Science

hi it’s michelle from lab muffin 
beauty science here chemistry phd  
cosmetic chemist skin care nerd and 
today i’m talking about sustainability
sustainability and environmental impact is 
a huge topic everywhere these days and it’s  
always tricky to talk about it’s obviously 
something that the vast majority of us care  
a lot about but a lot of companies are 
approaching it in a way that’s easy to  
market but doesn’t make a lot of scientific 
sense there’s a ton of greenwashing going on  
and you’ll have seen me debunk greenwashing 
myths before in my videos and on instagram
today i’m going to be talking about a brand 
that i think are approaching sustainability  
in a really holistic innovative and transparent 
way emma lewisham this video is sponsored by emma  
lewisham they gave me early access to information 
about their innovations but as always these are my  
genuine opinions as we go through it all hopefully 
you’ll see why i decided to work with them
emma lewisham is a high-end natural 
skincare brand from new zealand  
i personally don’t really care if the products 
i use are natural or synthetic as long as they  
work well and emma lewisham products do work 
really well which i’ll talk about a

bit later  
but first let’s talk about the really cool 
work they’ve been doing in sustainability
i think there’s this pattern in how the 
beauty industry tends to do sustainability  
brands often point to one small thing 
they’re doing and claim to be sustainable  
and then that seems to be it they tell you 
nothing about the rest of their business  
and a lot of the time that one thing seems to 
be environmentally friendly at first but then  
isn’t actually that good 
when you look deeper into it
emma lewisham approach sustainability 
in a much more holistic way with a  
carbon positive circular designed business model
let’s start with carbon positive this 
is kind of confusing carbon positive  
carbon negative and climate positive 
all pretty much mean the same thing  
more greenhouse gases are being removed than 
being emitted generally this is done by the  
business measuring their emissions and then 
offsetting them by investing in projects that  
remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere 
offsets can be controversial and misleading  
sometimes offsets can act like a license 
for businesses to keep polluting as much  
as they want as long as they pay a small fee 
and then still look environmentally friendly  
and it’s impossible to offset all of our current 
emissions reductions still have to happen
emma lewisham make it clear that reducing 
emissions is their primary focus here they  
aim to eventually have nothing left to offset 
they are the first business to be certified  
climate positive by toitu envirocare they’re a new 
zealand government-owned science-led environmental  
organization the way this certification 
works is very comprehensive and quantitative
to be certified climate positive a business 
needs to firstly measure all their direct and  
indirect emissions across their value chain 
this obviously includes all the emissions  
produced when they’re consuming energy to 
make their products but also for producing  
and transporting raw materials transporting 
the finished products to customers and stores  
making the product packaging and dealing with 
the packaging after the products being used
the company has to commit to reducing their 
emissions to line up with the paris agreement  
goals this includes working with suppliers 
to reduce emissions outside of the company’s  
direct control these supply chain emissions 
are often many times higher than the company’s  
direct operational emissions their progress gets 
monitored every third year to make sure this is a  
continued effort the company offsets the remainder 
plus at least 25% then finally the company has to  
invest in projects that help the wider sector 
or society decarbonize make a just transition  
or adapt to climate change impacts and this is 
set at at least 75 percent of the offset amount 
unsurprisingly there are lots of different 
strategies that emma lewisham use to get to  
this stage and any of them would probably 
make a great marketing story on their own  
for example they use 100% renewable energy in 
manufacturing their products and their boxes  
as well as powering their offices 
every product has a carbon emission  
score they plan to halve these by 2023 
and have them at virtually zero by 2030
the biggest piece of the pie though is packaging 
here’s where the circular model comes in packaging  
is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the 
beauty industry it accounts for an estimated 70%
on top of this there’s the waste issue the 
beauty industry uses a lot of highly complex  
components in packaging because a lot of formulas 
especially highly active formulas are unstable  
without things like pumps and opaque containers 
but this means a lot of it is too expensive to  
recycle and if you just chuck it in your normal 
recycling bin it ends up in landfill anyway  
the result is that most beauty packaging isn’t 
recycled even if it claims to be 100% recyclable
to solve these issues emma lewisham have 
created their own circular system this new  
packaging produces 74% less emissions than their 
old single-use packaging all of their products  
are refillable most products come in jars there 
are three airless pump jars and one regular jar  
all of these use refillable pods that 
slot into a base jar and top which  
are designed to be used over and over the 
pods are made from post-consumer recycled  
plastics so it financially supports 
the recycling of other containers  
the rest of the products come in glass bottles 
that are refilled with pouches that means that  
you still get the benefits of glass packaging 
but without having to ship that heavy fragile  
container back and forth as many times that means 
less emissions and lower risk of product loss
the circular part of this is that emma lewisham 
accept back all of their packaging at no cost to  
their customers through their emma lewisham 
beauty circle which is available worldwide  
once you collect enough empty containers 
to make the shipping emissions worth it  
you mail them back to emma lewisham free 
of charge recycling is the last option  
it requires more energy than reusing when a 
container can’t be used again emma lewisham  
pay to have a recycle through terracycle 
a specialty recycler currently 79% of  
their packaging can be sterilized and refilled 
only the pouches can’t and these are recycled
this whole system is really cool and well thought 
out but i think the thing that impressed me the  
most about this is that emma lewisham are making 
all the intellectual property associated with it  
available publicly this is so other brands can 
take advantage of their investment especially  
smaller brands which wouldn’t have the financial 
ability to switch to more sustainable practices  
otherwise this includes their sterilizing 
processes how they deal with recycling and returns  
packaging supply info take back procedures 
carbon calculation guides as well as the  
designs for their refillable packaging each 
of their molds cost ten thousand dollars to  
develop so it’s not a cheap process a lot of 
things in the beauty industry are kept very  
secret so this is really unusual and i think 
it really speaks to their real commitment to  
sustainability not just for marketing their own 
products as better than their competitors but  
to actually make a real change in how the 
beauty industry works they’ve also been  
recently endorsed by dr jane goodall the 
chimpanzee researcher and environmentalist
onto the products i’ve mentioned this 
a few times before one of the big  
issues with eco-friendly brands is that a lot 
of the time the products don’t work as well  
as other products on the market and this is 
especially the case with products that only  
use natural ingredients and if the products don’t 
work well people don’t buy them which means they  
end up having a limited environmental impact 
because they just can’t get any market share
but emma lewisham have cult 
status products even without  
that environmental aspect they’ve also 
hired an independent testing lab to perform  
in vitro lab studies on cells as 
well as clinical studies on actual  
human skin to make sure their products are 
effective the details are on their website
a side note emma lewisham did start off as a brand 
that marketed themselves as clean but they’ve  
changed their focus radically partly because they 
watched my content i was reluctant to work with  
them at first because of their clean marketing 
even though their environmental initiatives and  
their products sound really cool but i think 
they’re genuinely trying to fix that part of  
their marketing every time i go to their website i 
see less and less stuff that i have an issue with
emma lewisham are best known for their highly 
active natural products their most famous product  
is probably the skin reset this is a brightening 
serum for people with hyperpigmentation issues  
it has the super popular ingredient niacinamide 
or vitamin b3 as well as a patented stem cell  
extract that’s been found to have really 
interesting activity in vitro there are also  
a bunch of hydrating ingredients like prickly 
pear and sea buckthorn oil edelweiss extract  
and hyaluronic acid skin reset was developed 
when emma was looking for an alternative to  
hydroquinone to use when trying for a baby 
hydroquinone isn’t recommended when you’re  
pregnant skin reset been tested on melanocyte 
cells against nine other competitor serums  
it was the only one that was found to be active 
but without also killing the cells obviously the  
way that products work on your skin isn’t the same 
as how they work on cells in a dish but it’s a  
promising sign skin reset has also been tested on 
people’s skin after 12 weeks 88% of participants  
said they noticed no new hyperpigmentation 
77% rated it as effective at reducing  
hyperpigmentation the big reason skin reset 
is so popular is that it’s really gentle while  
still being effective this is my favorite product 
from the range i get a lot of pigment after i have  
acne and almost every brightening serum i have is 
irritating apart from my niacinamide products this  
has niacinamide with a bunch of other stuff as 
well and i don’t need to use a moisturizer with it
emma lewisham’s other really famous product 
is the supernatural 72 hour cream this is an  
intensely hydrating night cream with anti-aging 
actives that help with skin firming and texture  
the star anti-aging ingredients are pecutial and 
alaria esculenta seaweed extract much like with  
skin reset these don’t cause as much irritation 
and sensitivity as a lot of other anti-aging  
actives tend to do and again there are lots of 
other really moisturizing ingredients too like  
saccharide isomerate a super effective humectant 
that holds onto water and gives skin prolonged  
72-hour hydration it shows up in a lot of emma 
lewisham products again supernatural out performs  
a lot of leading luxury anti-aging skincare 
products in in vitro cell studies and it has  
impressive clinical results as well i really 
enjoyed this cream over winter it has a really  
rich texture that spreads over skin easily so 
you don’t need a lot to hydrate skin really well
there’s also the supernatural face oil 
this has anti-aging plant ingredients  
like pecutial and swertia chirata extract 
they’re in a really luxurious oil base  
that’s full of linoleic acid from 
rosehip oil and kalahari melon oil
there’s also the illuminating brighten your day 
cream this has plant extracts with vitamin c  
and ahas yes you can use hydroxy 
acids during the day as well as  
hydrating saccharide isomerate and 
ceramides the illuminating exfoliant  
is a creamy hydrating wash off product 
with jojoba wax beads and hydroxy acids  
the illuminating oil cleanser is lovely and 
rich and melts away makeup really easily
skin shield is an spf 30 zinc oxide sunscreen 
unfortunately like most other zinc oxide products  
there is a slight white cast with this otherwise 
it’s really nice it has a moisturizing texture  
and lots of active and hydrating ingredients
the products are all really luxurious they do have  
a botanical based fragrance which is a bit on the 
stronger side pretty typical strength for natural  
skin care but if you’re used to more clinical 
brands then it might be a bit of a change  
so overall i’m really impressed with this 
system i think emma lewisham have done  
a lot of amazing work in developing natural 
skincare that’s really effective and then  
also this incredible carbon positive business 
model the refillable packaging and the systems  
for making sure customers can easily complete 
the circle is really well thought out a lot of  
circular systems and beauty fail because that link 
is missing it needs to be as easy as possible for  
consumers to do their part and on top of that 
sharing the ip as well is just really fantastic  
there’s so much that’s not transparent in the 
beauty industry it’s really hard to work out  
what brands could or should be doing especially 
for small companies that are just starting out
i think a lot of us are getting 
pretty frustrated with how the  
beauty industry tends to claim as 
being environmentally friendly by  
pointing to small isolated actions that aren’t 
particularly well thought out or evidence-based  
but i think emma lewisham is a good example 
of how a beauty brand can operate differently  
and i hope other brands can take inspiration from 
this and re-examine how they run their operations
i’ve linked a bunch of resources about 
emma lewisham’s products and systems below  
i’ve also got more info on the carbon positive 
certification like subscribe nerdification bell  
follow me on instagram check out my blog 
and i’ll see you next time to nerd out more

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