top of page

The importance of biodegradability in cosmetics: A look at sustainable beauty


A change can be observed in the world of cosmetics: More and more people are consciously opting for natural cosmetic products that are not only good for the skin, but also promise sustainability and minimise environmental impact. One key aspect that plays a role here is the biodegradability of the ingredients. For example, 3 out of 4 shoppers would be encouraged to buy a cosmetic product if it was labelled "biodegradable". [1]

The claim that a product is biodegradable obliges manufacturers to prove this. However, manufacturers' desire to capitalise on changing consumer trends means that there is also a high risk of "greenwashing" or misleading advertising.

reduce your plastic footprint by using biodegradable materials instead

What does biodegradability actually mean?

Even among those involved in the development, testing and marketing of biodegradable products, there are many different opinions on what biodegradability is.

Biodegradability refers to the ability of a material to be completely broken down into harmless by-products by microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria in the environment. This process can take place in aerobic (in the presence of oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen) environments where living microorganisms are present. In aerobic environments, carbon in the organic material is utilised by microbes as a food source, consuming oxygen and producing carbon dioxide. Complete biodegradability, also referred to as mineralisation, provides a quantitative assessment of degradation and biodegradation rate by measuring the carbon dioxide produced over a period of time and under specific conditions.

switch to biodegradable items

The biodegradability test

Once a working definition of biodegradability and its measurement methods have been established, it is crucial to establish what counts as proof. Standards and certification bodies provide important guidance. Examples of standardisation bodies include the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

These standards lead to valid and reproducible tests and represent different environments such as soil or water. Therefore, the selection of the appropriate test standard for the specific product and circumstances is important. The environment in which the product is disposed of should also be considered, as different environments provide different conditions for biodegradability.

biodegradable disposable materials

The commitment of consumers

As consumers, we have the power to drive change towards more sustainable beauty products through our purchasing decisions. By consciously choosing natural cosmetics with biodegradable ingredients and supporting companies that put environmental sustainability at the centre of their products, we can have a positive impact on the environment while preserving our own beauty and health.

be more nature friendly by using biodegradable materials


Natural cosmetics with biodegradable ingredients are more than just a fad - they are an expression of a holistic approach to beauty and health that harmonises the needs of the skin and the demands of the environment. Let's work together to create a world where beauty does not come at the expense of nature, but flourishes in harmony with it.

[1] Wright, G. (2020, Jan 29). 83% of shoppers mislead by green and sustainable advertising. Retail Gazette. Available at

5 views0 comments


bottom of page