As the world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oreal is forging the path to sustainable beauty through its commitment to sustainable and environmentally-friendly skincare, makeup and beauty products. On March 4th, 2021, L’Oreal hosted its first-ever virtual Transparency Summit, an online event that provided an in-depth look at the brand’s extensive plans to develop products that respect the planet using sustainable ingredients and resources.
In fact, L’Oreal announced during the Transparency Summit that by 2030, 95% of the brand’s products will be made with renewable plant resources, circular, sustainable processes or abundant materials. On top of that, the brand pledges that by 2030, all formulas will be respectful of the aquatic environment. These goals are at the forefront of L’Oreal’s mission and permeate the brand’s approach to technology, product development, marketing and more. This article will provide detailed information about how L’Oreal is prioritizing green chemistry and sustainability in product development and ingredient sourcing moving forward.
What Is Green Chemistry?
Despite the fact that the adoption of environmentally-friendly policies products may seem like a recent trend in the cosmetics world, the truth is that efforts to curb environmental pollution on a large scale have been prevalent in the United States since the early 1990s. For example, in response to the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, the EPA developed what is known as “green chemistry,” or the “design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.” By implementing the principles of green chemistry into product development and future goals, L’Oreal is making strides to achieve its sustainability goals over the next decade.
L’Oreal Utilizes Green Chemistry to Purify Products and Formulas
Not only does green chemistry reduce the production of hazardous substances, it also allows researchers to identify more natural ingredients and formulas thanks to cutting-edge technology. Moving forward, L’Oreal is effectively eliminating the use of potentially harmful substances such as petroleum, opting instead for natural ingredients that maintain the company’s environmentally-friendly vision for the years to come. Currently, 29% of the ingredients in L’Oreal’s formulas adhere to the principles of green chemistry, but, as stated during the Transparency Summit, the brand plans to invest heavily in green chemistry moving forward in order to achieve a total of 95% renewable plant resources and 100% aquatic-friendly products.
Having invested over 3% of sales (964 million Euros) into research and innovation in 2020 alone, the L’Oreal Group is making considerable headway in its journey to sustainability. L’Oreal’s Chief Research, Innovation and Technology Officer, Barbara Lavernos, reiterates the value of Green Sciences for the future of beauty, saying, “Thanks to Green Sciences we are able to take up this ambitious scientific and technical challenge. This virtuous, circular economy-based approach will allow us to achieve new levels of performance and discover unprecedented cosmetic benefits without compromising on quality or safety, in the service of beauty that is respectful of the planet.”
L’Oreal + Innovative Alternatives to Animal Testing
Yet another topic of discussion during L’Oreal’s 2021 Transparency Summit was the company’s progress in developing alternatives to animal testing, which the company banned in 1989. L’Oreal has made significant progress in this realm using reconstructed skin models, which are widely recognized as a more accurate and ethical alternative to animal testing in the cosmetic industry.
To this day, there are numerous countries that allow — or even require — animal testing when it comes to cosmetics. For example, in China, animal testing is required for “special use” imported products like hair dye and sunscreen. However, in recent years, the Chinese government has abandoned animal testing requirements for what are considered “non-functional” cosmetics. By sharing their success with animal-testing alternatives like reconstructed skin models, L’Oreal is setting an example for cosmetics companies worldwide to abandon animal testing and invest in safe, innovative testing solutions.
Consumers’ Shifting Priorities
Particularly in the wake of COVID-19, consumers and companies alike are increasingly aware of the need to favor more sustainable practices and consumption habits. To this end, L’Oreal’s Deputy CEO, Nicolas Hieronimus, explains that the company’s focus on the environment makes sense not only from an ethical standpoint, but also from a business perspective. Hieronimus says that consumers are actively seeking products that are simultaneously good for them as well as for the planet. He adds, “consumers expect full transparency from brands and companies.” With consumers’ evolving priorities in mind, companies like L’Oreal are exemplifying what an environmentally-conscious beauty company looks like in 2021.
The recent Transparency Summit allowed L’Oreal’s leadership team to share its goals for the coming years as well as reassure consumers that the company is adapting to pressing environmental issues in our world today. The Summit is consistent with the company’s past efforts to offer consumers transparency, such as the 2019 launch of L’Oreal’s Inside Our Products website. Available in 45 countries, the website gives customers an in-depth look at L’Oreal’s leading product lines and ingredients. By keeping consumers informed and up-to-date with their journey toward sustainability today, L’Oreal is able to appeal to eco-friendly consumers who want to see a significant change in the beauty industry.