The founding story of Crème de La Mer is one of the most iconic in the beauty industry: a scientist discovers the healing powers of marine algae to treat his own burns, and the now legendary cream is born, with a name that mirrors its connection to our seas. La Mer developed its Blue Heart Oceans Fund in 2017 in order to support various ocean conservation projects; this year, the fund is empowering youth organisations to lead ocean restoration efforts. And the name of the fund, ‘blue heart’, is right: the ocean is the world’s largest ecosystem and some of the tiny creatures dwelling within it provide 50% of all of our oxygen, and yet, year after year, we continue to erode its health. In honour of World Oceans Day this week (8 June), we explored what actions La Mer and other conscientious beauty brands are taking to help stem the tide of marine destruction.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @LAMER

So, what’s the problem exactly?

According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, there are three major elements that adversely affect our oceans: climate change, overfishing, and pollution, especially via plastics. Two other key aspects of ocean conservation are the protection of particular areas and of particular species. In fact, the World Oceans Day organisation’s petition this year is in support of having 30% of the ocean to be protected by 2030. (You can sign the petition here.)

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @THOMASPESCHAK

Chantecaille goes wild

Renowned for its longstanding commitment to the environment, each year Chantecaille produces a limited edition product range to benefit a specific eco group. The focus of its 2020 summer collection is WildAid, whose mission is to protect marine life by reducing the global consumption of aquatic creatures; it works with local conservation groups around the world to achieve this goal. (This year’s Chantecaille Radiance Chic Cheek and Highlighter Duos, the sale of which will help support WildAid, feature gorgeous photography of whale sharks and manta rays, two species particularly affected by this issue.)

You can read more about WildAid’s programs here or donate here.

Sea TARTEles

Another marine species being directly supported by a beauty brand is sea turtles. Since its inception, tarte Cosmetics has worked with the Sea Turtle Conservancy. Each year STC hosts a Tour de Turtle, mapping the loggerheads as they go from nesting on beaches to swimming in open ocean, and you can learn more about Shelley, the very leatherback tarte sponsored in the most recent Tour, right here.

You can read more about Sea Turtle Conservancy here or donate here.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @SILKYMERMAN

Why sharks love… sugarcane?

Another ocean-dwelling species the beauty community is working to protect is sharks. Heard of the latest ‘it’ skincare ingredient, squalane? Well, watch your vowels as we go forwards here, and be prepared for a mini science lesson. When it first appeared as an emollient in cosmetics, it was derived from squalene (note the e), which was often obtained from sharks’ livers. In fact, the name itself speaks to this connection: squalus is a genus of shark. In 2014, Amyris, the parent company of ‘green’ skincare brand Biossance, published its findings of having created commercially viable squalane derived from sugar cane, and has since made sustainable squalane available to the wider skincare industry. Biossance estimates that widespread use of this plant-based squalane saves the lives of up to two million sharks each year.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ONEOCEANBEAUTY

The Big O

One Ocean Beauty is a niche ‘clean’ skincare brand developed in 2018 by the former head of Burberry Beauty. Marine algae is at the heart of this line, and rather than harvesting it repeatedly from the water, the company reproduces it using biotechnology. In order to reflect its reliance on oceanic ingredients and commitment to sustainably harnessing their potency, One Ocean donated US$250,000 to Oceana (an international group that to date has seen to the protection of four million square miles of ocean) before selling a single product.

You can read more about Oceana’s projects here or donate here.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @KIMI_SWIMMY

Not so fantastic plastic

Speaking of which, as we are well aware (goodbye, straws) plastics are one of the biggest threats to our oceans. Here are just a handful of horrifying facts for you:

  • In 2016, we produced 335 million metric tonnes of plastic worldwide, only nine percent of which is recycled. Eight million tonnes of what is produced ends up in the ocean each year.
  • Litter, including plastic, is brought together by ocean currents and has so far formed five global collections of rubbish, called gyres. One of these gyres, in the North Pacific, is twice the size of Texas.
  • Over 100,000 marine mammals and over 1,000,000 seabirds die every year due to plastics in the ocean.

So can we possibly make a dint in what is already clogging up our water? Australian haircare maestro Kevin Murphy’s eponymous line is the first beauty brand to make all of its bottles entirely from plastic that was once ocean waste. In doing so, it is estimated to be keeping 360 tonnes of plastic out of the ocean each year. British skincare brand REN has partnered with TerraCycle to transform the packaging of its Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium body wash, now housed in 100% recycled plastic, 20% of which is plastic removed from the ocean or beaches. REN is aiming to have all products in fully recycled packaging by 2021.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @SURFRIDER VIA @RENSKINCARE

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