The Evolution of Green Beauty


I remember working at the Catherine Malandrino show a few seasons back when I first moved to New York and was looking for a freelance job while studying. The backstage was an Intothegloss dream with every color of every MAC product. The first very model I worked with was a young 17 year old from Eastern Europe who had just come in from another show with her makeup on. I gently went over her face with some Bioderma Crealine and watched as the makeup melted off. To condition her skin before makeup artists from MAC got their hands on her, I massaged her skin with a mix of Bobbi Brown and Kiehls before priming her skin with MAC.

Just a year ago, I read that Catherine Malandrino had hired the services of Tata Harper to provide skincare for her shows. It garnered little fanfare, but for me, it was a sea change. When I first discovered these green beauty brands, there was already a sizable community on No More Dirty Looks but few people outside of this community recognized or accepted them. To see a brand like Tata Harper actually appear on calendar at New York Fashion Week was a huge moment because it meant acceptance and triumph in breaking the barrier. Since then Tata Harper has broken through more barriers, including launching at Neiman Marcus and most recently, in Sephora. Welcome to the mainstream!

This year, as I’m sure many of you green beauties have noticed, there is an event: A Night of Green Beauty that feature a lot of the brands we know and love including my personal favorites Kahina Giving Beauty, May Lindstrom, and Dr.Alkaitis. While many a fangirl will surely be excited at the prospect of meeting their favorite founders and testing products, I am excited for what this means. A year ago, these same brands held a night on Twitter, this year they’re actually in New York the day before fashion week.

While this might be seen as just a progression, I view it again as another sign that the movement is gaining traction and this has me very excited for the future of green beauty. And it’s not just the brands participating in this event who are helping to move green beauty forward, it’s the companies like Pressed Juicery who push this event onto publications like The Zoe Report and amazingly chic founders of our favorite luxury green shopping destinations like Spirit Beauty Lounge and Eco Diva Beauty. It’s also the beauty brands like YULI who from what I’ve seen are playing their own game and apparently doing well as they’re the only company besides Tata Harper to have landed on the actual New York Fashion Week calendar according to speculation from The Fetch Hunter.

All this is to say, I’m endlessly excited for the continued evolution of Green Beauty.



  1. September 3, 2013 / 5:10 pm

    This is such a wonderful post! From fledgling companies, these green beauty labels have certainly come a long way. It says a lot about people’s awareness and consciousness. It took a few flower-loving, granola-crunching, planet-loving people to start this movement. They were brave enough to step into the limelight and face the glares and finger-pointing—but guess what? Not only have they come out on top, but they are saving the condition of our planet as they rise. To all the unsung heroes and to you for tracing our progress, I hold the torch to you for setting the stage so that more and more people continue embrace the change—one green leaping bunny at a time. xoxo

  2. September 3, 2013 / 7:43 pm

    Great post! Green beauty has come a long way + I love your contribution to bringing it to the forefront!!!

  3. September 4, 2013 / 1:33 am

    I have to admit I’m a little worried about these lines becoming mainstream. Not that I don’t want them to succeed because I totally do, but I have seen countless brands (from beauty to dog food) get big, sell to L’oreal or Estee Lauder or Proctor and Gamble. The next thing to happen EVERY TIME is quality takes a dive. I would be so devastated if this little corner of the beauty world was to head in that direction!

  4. kimberlyloc
    September 4, 2013 / 4:05 am

    Tata really is leading the way, and I’m thrilled that a lot of other big green brands are coming together tomorrow night to continue to celebrate green beauty’s move into the mainstream.

    I think Juliet’s comment above rings true, though, except the more people because educated about ingredients, quality and performance, the more people will demand that their products stay true to form.

    I subscribe to The Zoe Report and have really been blown away by its coverage of natural beauty — including some products that weren’t on my radar! This truly is an exciting time, and I think us green bloggers should be proud of the communities we’ve built, too, because you know that when editors are researching products that come across their desks, they are BOUND to come across our honest reviews online! Quite a movement we’re in right now.

    Hope to connect with you while I’m in town, lady 🙂

  5. Poulette
    September 5, 2013 / 3:46 am

    I too share Juliet’s concern. When I think about Tata Harper & her brand, it’s all about the story she tells about growing the ingredients on her farm. Unless she buys up more & more land (which maybe she is doing, who knows) I can’t imagine she will be able to keep up with the pace of her business expansion. So she’ll have to look further afield for her ingredients, fine, but it’s not what her brand is about or has been built upon. It will be interesting to watch how she fares by becoming more mainstream.

    • Lara
      September 6, 2013 / 8:44 am

      I too share that concern. Tata’s new serums for example contain propanediol, a corn derived alternative to glycols and therefore a filler; I cannot imagina that she would have used this a while ago; and while it is naturally derived it is not natural per se. Also my fave brand yuli has just reformulated their modern alchemist serum and taken out the high tech actives: asthaxtin and sodium hylauronate, which makes me really sad. But I too love the green movement and am glad that more people become aware.

      • Tamoua
        September 6, 2013 / 2:51 pm

        I asked about their Modern Alchemist serum as I stockpile that lovely serum. They said that astaxanthan was creating irritation with some skin types and the sodium hylauronate didn’t work well in an oil base and just sat on top of skin so it didn’t do anything. I think they reformulated with a ferment of tamarind seed which apparently delivers a biologically identical active to hyaluronic acid (I’m assuming that is better penetrated into skin) and that is also an antioxidant so I think this covers the two ingredients they removed.

        I was initially upset about this change too when I first saw it but looking at what they’ve done I really think they’re just improving the formula to deliver actual results rather than slapping on sodium hylauronate without caring if it actually does anything.

      • Poulette
        September 6, 2013 / 6:14 pm

        Ahhhh… Fillers…. Isn’t the lack of fillers one of the main justifications for the high price tag? That its only the good stuff, and nothing that doesn’t deliver?

        I’m not a cosmetic scientist so I don’t know enough to understand if the propanediol actually does something beneficial for the skin, but it would be interesting to understand the formulation.

  6. Susannah
    September 7, 2013 / 5:14 pm

    Great post! I too am excited for the movement and it’s great that I can put chic green products right next to my SKII and La Mer without feeling like it’s whole foods meets high end.

    I don’t know what the future holds but I’d rather not propagate unfounded fears or assumptions, so far there isn’t anything to indicate that expanding and being taken legitimately means selling out. For instance, the green beauty movement is special because of attention to ingredients, selling out and decreasing ingredient quality is going to get rid of the very things that make these brands appealing so I don’t see that happening.

    The two examples, Tata Harper is known for using emulsifiers and solvents that are naturally derived, so in this way if the propanediol is a filler then all of her previous products contained fillers as well. Propanediol is used to decrease the thickness of a product which I think is necessary for Tata’s super serums because they use less water (a filler) and thinning agents like alcohol. It is also a good solvent which helps absorb all the extracts in the superserums so I don’t feel like she’s cutting a corner, it probably is one of the better ingredients for her to use for that purpose.

    In YULI’s case, it seems they replaced sodium hyaluronate with Bio-ferment Tamarind Seed Infusion which contains bio-identical hyaluronic acid that skin can actually use (a lot of sodium hyaluronate is too large for skin to actually absorb but companies will use this anyway just because people are so swayed by marketing). I think this is an improvement so I feel like just because you don’t see an ingredient that is a huge marketing buzzword doesn’t mean it’s “downgraded”. By the way, Sodium Hyaluronate is not a “fancy high-tech active”, it’s a cheap powder that you can buy online, The ferment of tamarind seed however – haven’t seen anywhere.

    In both cases, I don’t feel like either company took the “sell out” path.

    • Vicky
      September 7, 2013 / 5:19 pm

      Very informative post @Susannah. I also want to add that Propaediol has a risk score of 1 on EWG which doesn’t make it the “most” iffy thing from the line so I don’t think it is indicative of Tata Harper letting quality slip just because she’s bigger. In YULI’s case, I really don’t understand everyones obsession with sodium hyaluronate, it’s cheap and the effects are short term, in theory it’s cool because it binds water but since in most products it is too large to be absorbed into skin, it’s less useful than glycerin in giving skin moisture. I think it’s good that YULI noted this because many companies do not and they went ahead and made another ingredient that delivered a better version of this and you’re giving them a hard time for actually using something more expensive and high tech and more effective?

      • Lara
        September 9, 2013 / 5:06 pm

        When I intially checked the reformulated modern alchemist, the sodium hylauronate was simply removed. They have since replaced it with the tamarind seed ferment extract, which I welcome, if it is an improvement. So I am not giving anyone a hard time; thank you.

  7. September 9, 2013 / 5:59 pm

    I notice that green beauties are very passionate, myself included! I just want to say that I’ve always enjoyed Lara’s comments on here and do not want her to feel attacked in any way. She has always been very fair and inquisitive about product integrity which I applaud and respect because I try to be like that as well in my reviews. 🙂

  8. Poulette
    September 9, 2013 / 7:09 pm

    I echo the sentiments above, @Susannah, thanks for helping us to understand some of the science behind the magic, very informative! From my perspective, I am a brand & packaging designer who works with a lot cosmetics and food companies, mostly abroad. So for me, the interest in this story comes from the story they are telling as much as from the efficacy of the products. In the case of Tata (no I’m not on a first name basis with her :-), expanding into a chain as massive as Sephora will surely have an impact on her supply chain & the farmers/growers who supply the ingredients for her products.

    The example I would use is olive oil from Italy – there is no way a country the size of Italy could supply all of the olives to produce all of the olive oil that is consumed around the world. So what do manufacturers do? They buy olives from other countries and simply do the preparations in Italy. So when you’re buying a bottle of EVOO “from Italy” 9 times out of 10, the olives used are not Italian, but a mix from other countries.

    The point being – unless TH buys up the state of Vermont, chances are she will have to source her ingredients from other locations. Will this impact her brand in any way? I genuinely hope that her quality control is top notch, as I do for all of the growing “green beauty brands” – I am an avid consumer in this space so my concerns are pretty selfish.

    What I take away from the YULI story is that these brands should be proactive in communicating change when doing a product reformulation, particularly if its for the benefit of the end result. Why hide the fact that you’re doing something that makes a great product even better?

  9. September 11, 2013 / 6:15 pm

    Honoured to be mentioned in this post. The comments on this post are fuelled with passion, which is why these brands are where they are at today! You and I are the ones who create the change in the industry, so keep the fire alive! Thanks for sharing this, and your blog is FANTASTIC!

  10. September 18, 2013 / 12:40 pm

    Thank you for covering the event that we created and executed so successfully in NYC a few weeks ago. We loved collaborating with so many passionate and well deserving green brands who make a commitment every day not just to contribute to quality non-toxic skincare, but to the environment and community we have all helped build. It was an incredible, positive event and we can’t wait to do it again next year and include more green beauty. Stay tuned from surprises from La Bella Figura and for our Night For Green Beauty Part II next year!

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