For those a little out of the loop, high street brand H&M recently launched their own Ecocert-certified, organic and 'conscious' beauty line. The line is high-percentage organic and includes everything from body oils to dry shampoo. It has only just begun to pop up in UK stores but I came across a full display of the products in one of the Amsterdam branches. I was immediately intrigued. H&M's Conscious line is something that has been around for a while (starting with organic cotton garments), and although it is mainly with good intentions, it is a line fraught with controversy. H&M is not ethical across the board - only 13.7% of the cotton that they used in 2014 was organic. They're still a brand that indulges in 'fast fashion'. Therefore, consumers are right to be dubious about their beauty line. The ingredients may be up to par, but can a brand really be 'green' when it still engages in such practices? Can it constitute greenwashing?
H&M also have garment recycling program that many have called out as greenwashing. Yes, it's all fine and dandy that they'll recycle or donate your used clothing for you - hell, they'll even through in a sweet little discount for you to spend in store. However, what are we left with? Money still being put into the pockets of consumers under false virtuous pretences; money that is likely to be spent on more unsustainable fashion. H&M have noted that all revenue from the program will be used to offset rewards and then donated to charity. But, guess what? Take your clothing to a charity shop and it does the same thing. And you might even be able to pick up some awesome used garments in the process.
Now, I don't claim to be an angel when it comes to fashion. I still consume in a way that is not necessarily sustainable, but I do pride myself on being aware. Unfortunately I cannot afford to buy from completely organic and ethical brands; I still buy on the high street. However, I am choosy about the brands I buy from, I am a fan of the humble charity shop and I ALWAYS donate or recycle used garments.
So on to the beauty line. Above, you can see the ingredients for the product that I bought in Amsterdam: the Vitalising All-Over Oil - a highly scented oil that is claimed is suitable for bath, body, and hair, coming in at £7.99. The first thing to note is indeed the scent. It's strong, and of course, the ingredients list uses the dreaded cover-all: parfum. Now, I know this is a deal-breaker for some people (especially those with allergies and sensitivities) as parfum can mean anything. It's a loop hole through which companies can hide ingredients under the guise of 'protecting their formula.' Fortunately for myself, I have not reacted to this, but it's not something that I would usually accept in a green formula. The only reason that I have let it slide in this instance is that the rest of the ingredients are actually pretty good. The base is sunflower and jojoba oils (both of which, my skin love) and the Ecocert certification is a good indication of what definitely isn't in there e.g. non-vegetarian ingredients, gmo ingredients, parabens, and my enemy - phenoxyethanol. I still proceeded to patch-test before full body usage (something I do with any product I am not 100% sure of) and I had no reaction. I will note however that the ingredients are NOT listed on the website, something that I most definitely do not approve of. I also have only been putting it on my skin (not including my face), as I don't really want the strong scent near my hair or in my bath. I don't want it getting cosy with the highly sensitive eczema on my foot. No thank you.
As a product, the body oil is decent. Not necessarily moisturising enough for winter, but works well as a quick pick me up post-bath, when I need to put some hydration back in to my skin. I enjoy the scent and I really like the packaging - it has a great pump mechanism. However, it is not something I would buy again as there's definitely better things coming out of smaller, independently green, organic, or vegan brands like Blue Labelle, Botanicals and Evolve.
Controversy aside, I am happy that H&M have released this line as, at the end of the day, it is bringing organic beauty to the high street - and with better ingredients than some other high street attempts. I am glad that this line might act to get others interested and inspired to look more into green beauty, and I am also glad that they are offering organic at a decent price as there is still the misconception surrounding organic that it has to be expensive. However, as someone who has been using green products for a while, it is not anything to wax lyrical about and I probably won't buy anything from the line in the future. I would just prefer to support smaller brands that have a purer message.
What do you think of H&M's new conscious beauty line?