What makes skincare ingredients sustainable and ethical ?

Posted by Daniela Pelonara on

At Native Essentials, we have been passionate advocates of sustainable and ethical beauty for years. We like to do things simply, honestly and with respect for the environment.

Many clean, natural and organic beauty brands are often very transparent when it comes down to their ingredient list, just like us. Sourcing the freshest, purest, most potent botanicals are always the criteria used to purchase ingredients and to promote their benefits.

But let's be honest - any brand can also claim they are ethical or/and sustainable because of the lack of global regulations, clear boundaries and the definition of 'ethical and sustainable' can depend on a number of factors.

Here are some facts and resources to help you understand how we work at Native Essentials in sourcing sustainable botanical ingredients. 


Native Essentials - Sustainable and Ethical skincare ingredients



Animal testing is luckily very regulated and restricted in many countries, and some great progress has been made by countries that are still conducting animal testing (under specific circumstances). Sadly, important markets like China are still requiring animal testing for every product registered for local retail sales and things won't change any time soon. 

While it is easy to claim that a single botanical extract is cruelty-free (because nobody has a patent on it, so testing is very limited), it is not that easy to claim the same with complex of active skincare ingredients under trademark.

Suppliers of cosmetic ingredients from countries where animal testing is banned are:

- the EU, Norway, Switzerland, India, Israel, Turkey, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Guatemala.

Countries in the process of phasing out completely animal testing or where animal testing is conducted only in specific cases are:

- Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Canada, Brazil, the US, Australia, Japan, ASEAN countries like Thailand.

So if you buy a good clean skincare product that is made in a country with no animal testing requirements and made using local ingredients, you should be quite confident that it's cruelty-free, even if it not declared on the packaging. 

 PETA and Crueltyfree certifications are available in several countries but they certify companies and brands, not cosmetic ingredients.

Native Essentials currently produces its skincare in Thailand in cooperation with the only ECOCERT certified laboratory in the country. We work when possible with local suppliers and our active ingredients are ECOCERT, COSMOS, ACO certified. Our suppliers are mainly located in the EU, Australia and New Zealand.    



It is not that hard to source vegan ingredients for skincare. As an example, there are so many wonderful plant alternatives

Beeswax can be replaced by Rice wax, Carnauba wax, Candelilla wax, Soy wax. Psst - and they are cheaper!

Glycerin can be plant-derived (Coconut, Palm) and the production cost is similar (assuming palm derived Glycerin comes from sustainable and ethical sources).

Lanolin can be replaced by thick oils like Coconut, Olive, Argan or even butters like Shea, Mango, Cocoa, Babassu, Kokum, Cupuacu...

Squalene (Shark liver oil) can be replaced by Squalane (from Olive oil) - Squalene costs a fraction of animal Squalene.

Collagen can be extracted from Almond oil, Soy proteins, modified yeast, fermented bacteria... Normally plant alternatives are approx 30% more expensive

Hyaluronic acid (more precisely Sodium hyaluronate) can be plant-derived - similar production cost.



Every year CITES publishes a list of endangered flora and fauna. Sadly the list gets longer and longer every year.

Besides unscrupulous cosmetic ingredients suppliers, traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda are still using many endangered plants for their remedies.

At Native Essentials we never purchase endangered plant extracts like Rosewood (Aniba roseodora), Russian Ginseng (Panax ginseng), Baobab from Madagascar (Adansonia grandidieri), Himalayan Spikenard (Nardostachys grandiflora), Indian Agarwood (Aquilaria spp).... because the safeguard of biodiversity is our priority.

A special note about Sandalwood oil, a very special extract we love using in our products.  A few suppliers claim they sell authentic Indian Sandalwood (Santalum album - Mysore Sandalwood oil) - it is important to check if the supplier has been granted by the Mysore government an export license because this means that the extract is obtained legally and sustainably.

As an alternative to Indian Sandalwood, Australia produces  Sandalwood oil (Santalum spicatum), but the aroma and benefits are similar but not are as unique as Mysore Sandalwood oil. 



Some Aromatherapy or MLM brands promote the daily use of essential oils not because of a specific therapeutic need, but as tonics or supplements.

Cultivating aromatic plants often exhausts the soil, uses an incredible amount of water for irrigation, and the amount of plant material required to produce essential oils can be incredibly high.

The cultivation of aromatic plants can be very attractive to farmers because of its high profitability; however, the increase of cultivation of non-food crops can actually have a negative impact on communities that relied for generations on food self-sufficiency. 


We formulate our products with very low dilutions of essential oils and use the distillation water that was produced when extracting essential oils (hydrosols).


Whether you already buying from sustainable and ethical brands or you’re just starting out on your ethical and sustainable journey, thank you for making a difference for the good of the environment and ourselves. Spread the love!





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