How Do I Know If a Brand Is Sustainable and Ethical?

A 2022 Forbes story describes how “younger generations are more likely to tie a brand or company’s real-world impact on society to their shopping decisions. They are looking at everything from ethical manufacturing practices to the treatment of employees. They are also looking for eco-friendly initiatives and sustainability.”



So, let’s talk about whether a skincare brand is truly capable of doing social good. With the emergence of Gen Z, we’re seeing more purpose-driven brands and social impact marketing than ever. But, should compassion really be turned into a selling point? After all, is it even possible to purchase integrity?

Is launching a skincare line truly the most purpose-driven thing you can do, or is it just a performance? Here are 3 things you can look for to determine if a company is truly committed to making a positive impact. 


Well, one of the things you can look for to determine this, although it's not a surefire way, is whether the company is a B- corp. 

What is a B-corp?

Certified B Corporations, benefit corporations or “B Corps,” are businesses certified by B Lab for meeting certain standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It is a legal status that requires businesses to "meet high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials (Cultivating Capital, 2023).”

What types of standards do B Corps have to meet?

First, companies answer yes or no to questions on the BIA (Bio impact assessment). If they answer yes, they earn points. However, the answers are not verified at this stage. The company just completes a self-assessment by answering the questions to the best of its ability. At the end of the assessment, if a company has earned at least 80 points, it can submit its BIA for review to B Lab (Cultivating Capital, 2023)

But, that score is only based on the company assessing itself. So, a standards analyst is assigned to the company to verify the answers in a final review. The final review process has two separate stages: evaluation and verification (Cultivating Capital, 2023).

During the evaluation, an evaluation analyst will conduct a high-level review to make sure that the company is eligible for certification. Once a company passes the evaluation, it moves on to verification. A standards analyst will be assigned to review the company’s documentation and verify the answers (Cultivating Capital, 2023).


Yes, it's true that recycling can still have a carbon footprint. However, it does reduce greenhouse emissions, the rate of deforestation, and waste ( Moreover, it actually costs more to use recyclable materials than non-non-recyclable materials. So, this investment can demonstrate a brand's willingness to have a positive impact.   


Brands that donate to charitable causes should also disclose what percent are going to charitable proceeds. If not, this type of marketing might be questionable or performative. 

A brand should also be transparent about where it sources its materials.

However, it's true that transparency can be a challenge given how supply chains work. Supply chains can make it very difficult to be open and honest about where ingredients and materials are being sourced from. 

For example, even though a brand with good intent may be buying recyclable packaging, it's hard to know if the recyclable packaging company itself is committed to employees' rights and to reducing its own carbon footprint.  

Furthermore, sometimes it's hard to disclose where you're getting your ingredients because that can make it easy for people to copy the formula.

However, when a brand tries its best to be transparent about sourcing, charity, and tangible ways it's producing a positive impact, this may be a step in the right direction of finding good brands.

As mentioned before, none of these are surefire ways of determining the value system of a company, but these are small ways of leading yourself in the right direction when looking for socially beneficial brands.