Us Millennials are a demanding bunch, but who's to say that's a bad thing? A lack of transparency with half-baked ingredient lists don't cut it with us; for the most part, we're a generation of intelligent consumers who want to know what we're buying into, who's behind it, and how our decisions, in turn, affect the environment.

Attitudes are shifting, and it's something 'unashamedly beauty obsessed' entrepreneur  Zahra Broadfield is well aware of.  Having spent the best part of a decade plugged into consumer behaviours as an influential buyer in the luxury beauty space, she's seen firsthand the evolution of the industry. In the same breath, she knows how far it has to go. "I think consumers are ever better informed and well researched, which in turn is pushing the industry to make changes," she says. "My suspicion, however, is that there’s more token gestures and talk than action from the beauty mainstream industry. Consumers can see it and aren’t impressed."

With this advent of 'greenwashing', a disconnect between consumers and the brands they buy from is her observation, thanks to the inherent lack of trust it creates. There is, however, what she calls an "emergence of carefully and consciously developed brands from passionate individuals, beauty experts, cosmetics scientists, holistic wellbeing and naturopaths who are using their knowledge to push the category out of the niche sidelines."
And so, as an entrepreneur at heart, so comes SUSTbeauty. "My hope is that SUSTbeauty can be a leading voice for change in the beauty industry. I want to draw attention to the fact that, with this rigorously assessed collection of products, it’s not hard to make some small changes that will have a big impact," she explains on the e-commerce platform that launches today. "Now is the right time to launch SUSTbeauty because there is a growing movement toward individuals wanting to understand their impact and what changes they can easily make that will lessen their impact, without diluting their experience," she adds.

Choosing her language carefully ("All terms are kind of dangerous if a brand or retailer haven’t clearly defined what they mean," says Zahra), buzzwords du jour like 'clean' and 'natural' are among those she plans to takes a wide berth from, while, as she explains, "I think terms like 'sustainable', 'responsible' and 'ethical' are clear as long as you are talking about the full lifecycle of a product, which we always are at SUSTbeauty."

The same careful process goes for her brand vetting. "The brand selection has really been about first impressions so look, feel, smell, texture. Then there's efficacy, does it actually do what is say it will do? It is a good experience? Does it impress me? And, essentially, the deep dive into the background, the ingredient sourcing, who makes it and where, what’s in it?," she says. "
As you can tell, I ask a lot of questions and have high expectations, but I think it’s really important to know your product and be upfront with customers. It’s fine to say you used a synthetic preservative if you explain that it’s totally non-toxic and that to use a naturally sourced one would have meant diluting your product to 25%. That’s valid and honest and I think customers appreciate it. I’ve asked every brand included on the SUSTbeauty edit to fill out a ‘Terms of Trade’ document so we have this information clearly defined and verified before we work together."

As for the brand's themselves – grouped on SUSTbeauty as a 'sustainably made, non-toxic and responsibly packaged' clan – the likes of AMLY Botanicals, Guy Morgan and Neighbourhood Botanicals feature in an edit of nine... and counting. And as for Zandra's favourites? "
Well, obviously all of them or they wouldn’t even be in the edit," she enthuses. "But my current favourites include Wilder Botanics' Calm and Support tea, which is delicious and very helpful if you’re launching a new business, for example! Elsewhere, there are a few face oils from different brands across the edit, because your skin needs different support at different times and I switch and change mine up accordingly; at the moment it’s Amly Day Light face oil, which is beautiful, and with their Silver-rich mist over the top, my skin is immediately softer and plumped. I use the Ere Perez Oatmilk foundation – the texture is really easy to use and it has great buildable coverage and staying power – I also use the carrot pots from Ere Perez with illuminating cream from The Beauty Archive... they blend really easily and I find creams much easier to apply than powder. Neighbourhood Botanicals Face off cleanser is also brilliant and so quick to use. For my hair, I use the Mauli shampoo and conditioner with hair oil, my hair considerably drier since I had my son and Mauli has saved me!"

In her bid to "really to help show the customer, and, indeed, the industry how we can all do beauty better," each product also comes complete with its unique package recycling instructions. "I just think it’s common sense that a product made up of different components comes with instructions on how to recycle it," she says on this decision. "I think we’re all pretty proud recyclers in the UK – it's that we don’t know what to do or how."

Armed now with an arsenal of SUST(ainable)-approved products and a guide to their lifecycles, we'll be taking a leaf out of Zahra's book ("I’m not an idealist by any means and I firmly believe that perfect can get in the way of good"), and making responsible decisions where possible. SUSTbeauty isn't a bad place to start.

Also on Because Magazine:

+ BECO. is helping to close the disability employment gap, one bar of soap at a time.

+ Get to know Augustinus Bader's first-of-its-kind body cream.
 + A solid regime starts with the basics – think moisturising maestros.