How Emma Lewisham Is Redefining Clean Beauty
For all the things there is to love about skincare and makeup, there’s no denying that the beauty industry has a bad reputation when it comes to sustainability.
The numbers are staggering; an estimated 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the beauty industry, most of which are not recyclable. And it’s not just the use of single-use plastic packaging that makes our skincare dirtier than we’d care to admit – it’s also the increasing number of toxins hiding within the formulas. This is where Emma Lewisham saw an opportunity.
Since launching her eponymous brand in 2019, Emma Lewisham’s mission has been to make a meaningful impact in the beauty industry, and set a new standard when it comes to sustainability in skincare. Her belief is that luxurious, efficacious products don’t have to come at the expense of people’s health or our planet.
She told me, “The catalyst for my clean skincare journey was learning from my doctor that one of the products I was using for my hyperpigmentation contained a known carcinogen. Upon further research, I learned that the average woman is exposed to nearly 515 chemicals a day. So I started replacing my personal care products with 100% natural and clean alternatives, but the trouble was I couldn’t find anything that garnered the same results as the luxury skincare brands I was accustomed to. I found myself standing in organic health stores, staring at these jars of 100% Argan oil and Shea butter and thinking, ‘This is not going to give me the results I need!’. I wanted products that had science behind them, that were going to deliver evidence-backed results – but without compromising my health.”
Essentially, Lewisham set out to prove to the beauty industry that when natural, clean ingredients are formulated correctly, they are far more efficacious than toxic, synthetic ingredients. In fact, her cult Skin Reset serum has been independently proven to outperform the likes of Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley and La Mer when it comes to evening out and brightening skin tone.
The term ‘clean’ gets thrown around with an almost reckless abandon in the beauty industry, and that’s because the industry still remains largely self-regulated. Most brands agree that, at a minimum, a clean product is one that is free from parabens, phthalates, sulphates and petrochemicals, but Lewisham doesn’t think that goes far enough, “Clean, for us, is rigorous. It means a product that is made without any ingredients linked to harmful health effects whether that be hormone disruption, cancer, or plain-old skin irritation. Where some brands eliminate six, we adhere to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) definition of hazardous ingredients and eliminate 1,400 ingredients that are identified by the EWG as being deleterious, potentially harmful or irritating to the skin.”
And Lewisham wasn’t just interested in being clean from an ingredient’s perspective, she was also committed to doing right by the environment. Emma Lewisham was the first beauty brand in the world to produce products using post-consumer recycled plastic tubes, and earlier this month she launched New Zealand’s first sustainable facial beauty initiative called the Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle. “In the process of building our brand, we knew that the meaningful difference we wanted to make in the beauty industry was not just in terms of being clean and uncompromising to women’s health – but that it also needed to extend to the planet’s health and our supply chain too. We believe if you build sustainability into your brand, it will soon become intrinsic to your processes. From the start, we have set an ambitious goal to be a zero-waste, 100% circular brand. We believe the future of beauty is a circular, never-ending closed loop system.”
The Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle is an entirely free, incentive-based recycling programme designed to give all facial beauty products a second life. To participate, all you have to do is round up at least four empty facial skincare products (they can be any brand at all!) and put them into whatever cardboard box or bag you can get your hands on. Create a TerraCycle account online, download a free shipping label to attach to the box, and then drop it off to your nearest post shop. Every single time you participate you will receive a $15 Emma Lewisham voucher. You can also drop off your empties to any Smith & Caughey’s, Spring Spa, East Day Spa or The Facialist.
This initiative is also available globally, people just need to have four empty Emma Lewisham vessels to participate. And I have a feeling that with Lewisham’s grit and resolution to effect change, a global takeover isn’t far off, “After all, sustainability is the ultimate luxury.”