Cookie Policy Product Ratings - Untainted Magazine
Old Wives' Tales

Product Ratings

Why We Rate Products

At UNTAINTED, we review brands and products that meet our FIVE PILLARS in order to uphold our mission for sustainable beauty. We use a stared rating system to better support our readers to make the most informed choices to align to their personal ethos and/or professional practice (should they be creatives in the space) with a strong focus environmental and social impact.

First and foremost, any product that makes it on to our pages will adhere to the principles and philosophy of clean and/or green beauty – that’s a given. But I wanted to go a step further by highlighting all the variables of a truly sustainable brand/product (out of 5) to encourage brands to keep pushing forward with their sustainability and social commitments – and to hold them accountable to their marketing claims, based on the supporting information that is easily and publically available.

How We Rate Products

Efficacy:

The efficacy rating is important because despite how eco-consciously a product is made if the product isn’t fit for purpose, there is a high probability that the product itself will be wasted. Beauty product manufacture creates enormous pressure on natural resources and requires vast amounts of water and energy – so if the end product is wasted, it’s not all that environmentally sound.

Products will receive a star rating of between 1 – 5 based on how well they perform. I use many of these products in both personal and professional situations – as well as consultation with trusted peers, on which I base my weighting. Considerations of colour payoff, longevity (within the bounds of understanding the untainted brands aren’t designed to stay on the skin for 24 hours) and results against claims.

Availability:

We always try (but sometimes fail) to provide information with local availability to readers. If our beauty products have to be endlessly shipped around the world to reach us, particularly in heavy glass bottles, this is adding to CO2 emissions and beauty miles.

This category is weighted on how widely available a product is. If it’s only online or if it’s readily available in bricks-and-mortar stores so the product (with all it’s positive benefits) can reach as wide an audience as possible.

The more countries and stores it’s available in, the higher the rating.

Affordability:

Responsibly-sourced natural and organic ingredients will always cost more to procure which will be reflected in the end product’s price point. Naturally, these ingredients cost more to grow and harvest than simply using the by-products of the petrochemical industry – or using unethically sourced natural ingredients that exploit people and ecosystems, which is expected. However, in order to improve the repeatability of the glean (clean & green) beauty, many brands of opted for a luxury aesthetic with luxury price point – which often means excluding people from lower socio-economic backgrounds ability to access safe, wholesome products.

The affordability rating looks at similar products – both in the untainted and mainstream space and takes into account the amount of product for the price.

Inclusivity:

Inclusivity is another very important factor in the world of beauty – and on that is still sadly often overlooked. Inclusivity doesn’t only mean that the products, messaging and marketing are inclusive, but there is diversity within the company itself. Of course, if a company is a small, independent with one owner/maker – diversity at board level is a different conversation.

For brand reviews, we rate inclusivity in relation to the the size of brand, how inclusive the product range and how well their messaging and visual marketing align.

For product reviews, we rate inclusivity on how many different people that particular product is suitable for. For instance, if we are reviewing a lipstick, the inclusivity consideration will be based on if people from all ethnicities and genders can use it – and not based on how diverse their entire product range is.

Naturally, if a product has been designed for a specific purpose and it’s clearly stated, this will not affect the score.

Transparency:

Ingredient, sourcing and emissions transparency is another vital pillar in sustainability beauty. Untainted brands should have nothing to hide. I will happily include brands and products that contain a small amount of synthetic pigments or a small quantity of a contentious ingredient if it is clearly stated on their ingredients list and there motivation as to why it has been included. The same goes to animal-derived ingredients: if there is a legitimate and substantiated reason for including animal-derived ingredients that don’t harm animals in their procurement, they are acceptable to untainted.

I have recently (August 2020) strengthened our transparency and sustainability scoring. Transparency now includes not only a full ingredients list that is easily and readily available, but also evidence to support the companies claimed ethos and policies (eg: certifications and/or publically available reports).

Inaccurate claims such as “chemical free” also count against this score.

Sustainability:

Sustainability is a vital component of an UNTAINTED brand. Not only how natural the products are, but the entire business model.

Much like with transparency, I am becoming much stricter on the scoring of sustainability. This score is weighted on publicly available information on the product’s packaging, (and not only if it’s made from plastic) if the product has had a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to ascertain the real environmental impact, as well as identifying risks in their supply chain.

While a policy or declaration of initiatives is essential, brands with current sustainability reports that record and measure their impacts and are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to receive 5 stars.

Other considerations:

  • Brand education on how to responsibly dispose of their products
  • Initiatives to reduce emissions and conserve energy, natural resources and water during manufacture.
  • Have human rights policy
  • Certifications that uphold responsible sourcing.

Untainted:

I believe that everyone deserves to use products that contain healthy, safe ingredients.

This rating considers the quantity of organic, bio-dynamic vs synthetic or contentious ingredients. We also accept brands the use nature identical and bio-tech ingredients produced using the green chemistry – as this is often the most sustainable solution for many rare and exotic ingredients – that while may have wonderful skin-enhancing properties, are at risk of exploitation, as are the indigenous people and communities who often rely on these plants for medicine and food.

How can I improve my brand/product rating?

These ratings reflect the overall sustainability of the brand or product (factoring in people, planet and your brand’s ability to remain viable in the long term) based on information I have been (easily) able to find on your website, packaging or in the public domain.

If you disagree with the rating of a particular category, please do get in touch so we can discuss how you might improve your score. This will likely require supporting evidence.

Please know that I truly believe in your brand and/or products, which is why it’s been included on UNTAINTED in the first place. As my understanding and knowledge about sustainability grow (I am in the process of getting chartered as a sustainability consultant – with a Masters equivalent diploma), I am positioned to better support you in developing robust sustainability plans and messaging that limits both financial and reputational risk to your brand.

If you are interested in learning more about my strategic sustainability services, you can find out more here.

With love and respect, Khandiz.

Editor & Beauty Curator of UNTAINTED MAGAZINE

untainted |ˌənˈtān(t)əd| adjective
not contaminated, polluted, or tainted: the paper was untainted by age.

UNTAINTED is a directional beauty platform, pushing the boundaries of clean, sustainable beauty. We are inspired and motivated by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

Dive in and explore our earlier issues.