While most people are familiar with the concept of going green, the industry is raising the bar by promoting the idea of going blue. It’s an idea Kapua Browning, founder of Honua Hawaiian Skincare, lives by. “Blue beauty is about taking that extra step to be mindful about how you are impacting the environment,” says Browning. “I believe the word blue initially came from the idea of creating products that support our oceans’ health, but blue beauty has evolved into so much more. Brands are becoming more intentional and looking at everything from ingredient sourcing, packaging, and marketing pieces to the non-profit partners that they support.”
Jeannie Jarnot, founder of Beauty Heroes, coined the term “blue beauty” after hearing a trend analyst explain how consumers would eventually demand companies go blue if they want to maintain their loyalty. “Blue beauty is when personal care and beauty companies have initiatives within their operation that go beyond being sustainable, non-toxic, or green, but rather contribute back, in some way, to the health of the planet,” says Jarnot. Realizing that many of the companies she works with were already giving back, she created Project Blue Beauty, which spotlights brands that are working to create a better, bluer planet.
One issue that has garnered a considerable amount of attention recently is the protection of coral reefs. Consumers have long been faced with the challenging task of choosing a safe yet effective sunscreen. While several popular ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have come under scrutiny in recent years for toxicity concerns and the fact that they may mimic hormones, it wasn’t until their damaging effects on reefs and other marine life was discovered that the ingredients were banned thanks to Senate Bill 2571. The bill prohibits the sale and distribution of any sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, or both, without a prescription beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Hawaii was the first state to enact the legislation, which is designed to protect marine ecosystems by banning harmful sunscreens.
According to Jillian Wright, cofounder of Indie Beauty Expo, the ban was a wake-up call. “Humans have been conditioned to think only of themselves for decades,” says Wright. “Thirty or forty years ago, people lived as if there was an abundance of everything around them, thinking their way of life wouldn’t have an impact outside of their bubble.” Of course, that way of thinking is now changing, and the spa and wellness industry is leading the way. “It’s this green and blue beauty movement that is slowly bringing awareness to this issue, educating consumers about the damaging effects of these chemicals found in sunscreen and lotions,” says Wright. As a result, consumers are turning to brands, such as Coola, Honua Hawaiian Skincare, Love Sun Body, EIR, ErbaViva, Raw Elements, MDSolarSciences, and more for reef-safe sunscreens.
Beyond producing reef-safe sunscreen formulas, many blue beauty brands are working to enact real change by giving back to the planet. For instance, Beauty Heroes has partnered with 5 Gyres Institute to organize beach cleanups in Hawaii, and One Ocean Beauty has teamed up with Oceana, the largest global science-based organization working to protect the world’s oceans. Although it’s an idea that is being embraced by many, Jarnot thinks it goes even deeper. “A few of the brands that I work with don’t just embrace blue beauty as a trend,” she says. “They started their companies with what I am now calling blue beauty as their mission.” As for the future of blue beauty, Jarnot believes companies will challenge themselves to be greener and bluer as a result. “I do think there will be blue-washing, but I also think there will be advancements in the adoption of sustainability initiatives, packaging innovation, and blue initiatives. As for Beauty Heroes, we are working a series of events next year designed to continue this conversation, inspire a wave of blue beauty, and share best practices."