Beyond Green Beauty: A Conversation with Blue Beauty’s Jeannie Jarnot

June 29, 2021

Blue Beauty Awards Jeannie Jarnot and Ava Zhan

Photo credit: Insiders Guide to Spas

For those of us who have long been committed to creating natural products in ways that are sustainable and honor the environment, the sudden trendiness of “sustainability” as a beauty- industry buzzword can feel like a double-edged sword. While any amount of progress is a good thing, on closer inspection, most of the heavily-advertised “eco-friendly” practices in the conventional beauty world today amount to little more than greenwashing. And unfortunately, for the average consumer, it can be hard to tell the difference between a company with a deeply- rooted commitment to honoring the earth, and one that just has a large PR budget.

This is one of the reasons that Jeannie Jarnot, the founder of Beauty Heroes, started the Blue Beauty movement in 2018. As the term “green beauty” becomes increasingly meaningless, the Blue Beauty movement aims to highlight brands that go above and beyond “green” and strive not only to do no harm, but to actually leave the planet better than they found it.

I had the pleasure of talking with Jeannie this spring for a Blue Beauty Webinar sponsored by INNOCOS, in which we discussed the impact of marketing on the beauty industry, and the way the term “sustainable” can be misappropriated and used to deceive well-meaning customers. As I shared with Jeannie, I was recently shocked to hear a beauty industry insider refer to organically grown herbs as “unsustainable” when compared with lab-made ingredients, because of the cost involved in producing them. Of course, what he really meant was that using fresh, organic farm products was not sustainable for him, in that it would not allow him to make enough profit. To me, this is an appalling perversion of the whole concept of sustainability. When we speak about working sustainably at Earthwise Beauty, we mean that we are working from a place of deep connection with the Earth, to ensure that our business practices do not deplete or destroy the environment in any way. Of course, we also want our business to be commercially viable, but never at the expense of the greater world around us.

At its most basic, “sustainability” means using a resource in a way that does not destroy it. To me, this means considering every aspect of how we create and distribute our products, from the ingredients we source, to the materials we use in our studio, to the way we package and ship our products. We talk a lot here about how we source our ingredients, growing many of them ourselves and carefully vetting the suppliers for those we cannot grow, but to truly work sustainably, we need to go so much further than that. We are always seeking ways to reduce our carbon footprint, for example, by choosing local suppliers for everything from our holiday gift-wrap ribbons to our shipping boxes. Beyond the materials we use, it’s equally important that we make responsible use of our human resources, which means paying fair, livable wages to all our employees and providing a positive, balanced work environment. And I believe an important part of living and working sustainably is giving back to the Earth and to others in gratitude for what we have received, which is why we have an ongoing give-back program that supports a number of environmental protection agencies.

The Blue Beauty movement’s philosophy is all about not only minimizing our impact on the environment, but also finding ways to regenerate, improve, and repair it. Jeannie talks about creating products that “make a positive impact on us as consumers and also on the environment,” and that’s exactly what we strive to do at Earthwise Beauty. We’re honored to be among the short list of brands on the Blue Beauty list, and we encourage you to support the Blue Beauty movement and all the brands they feature at Beauty Heroes’ Blue Beauty.

I’ve spent hours with my hands in the earth, cultivating organic herbs and flowers; hand- harvesting wild ingredients carefully with an eye toward protecting the plant’s future growth; and working with the vibrant, live gifts of nature, feeling their energy and allowing it to guide my work as I create new formulas. And despite what some in conventional beauty circles may claim, I can assure you that this way of working is not only economically sustainable—it also creates products that are worth connecting to, and are truly sustainable in all the ways that matter most.

You can hear my full conversation with Jeannie in Episode 19 of the INNOCOS Blue Beauty Webinar series, and to check out the full series, visit INNOCOS Well.

–Ava