If you’re looking make more sustainable beauty product purchases, there can be a huge amount to consider, one of which being a brand’s certifications. However, there are so many different certifications out there — Eco Cert, vegan, Soil Association, carbon-neutral, to name a few — and while these various certifications are obviously great steps forward for the beauty industry, none of them fully encompass what it means to be a truly sustainable and ethical business in all its many complexities. And, honestly, it can get a little confusing (not to mention time-consuming) to read up on each specific certification.
But there’s one certification out there hoping to cut the crap and get straight down to business. Think of as the crème de la crème of sustainable beauty certifications, if you will, and that’s the B Corporation certification. There are currently over 3,000 companies spanning 150 industries and 70 countries which are B Corp certified, and it’s an incredibly tough accreditation to gain.
What Is a B Corp Certification?
At the heart, B Corp businesses balance purpose with profit. For a business to become B Corp certified it must meet the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” The B Corp certification is an initiative created by B Lab, a global nonprofit started by three people who left their careers in business and private equity to make it easier for mission-driven companies to have a positive impact (which is continually improved upon overtime) on people and the planet. The ultimate aim of B Lab is to use the power of business to address social and environmental issues.
And it’s no easy feat to become certified. Businesses wishing to gain the certification are actually legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. “Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on all their stakeholders,” the website states, adding that “B Corps make this legal change by updating their Articles of Association, reincorporating as benefit companies, or making other structural changes.”
What Are the Requirements to Become a B Corp Brand?
The assessment process of becoming a B Corp business measures the company’s performance in five key categories: governance, workers, customers, community, and the environment. To gain certification, an exam is required, but this is way more involved than your typical multiple-choice test. “The exam itself includes 4,000 questions regarding how you operate your business,” explains Christoper Davis, head of sustainability at The Body Shop, a brand that has applied for, and gained, B Corp certification. “[The Body Shop] submitted 3,000 pieces of evidence for assessment.” To achieve the certification, businesses are required to score a minimum of 80 points spanning across each of these categories. But obviously, the higher the better across the board.
Gaining a B Corp certification isn’t a one time thing, though. It’s arguably harder to keep the accreditation than to gain it. “To keep hold of the certification, you must re-certify with B Corp every 3 years, improving your score each time you take the exam (which makes it harder every time). If you fail to do this, you lose your B Corp status,” explains Davis.
Read on to see which beauty and wellness brands have gained B Corp status and are committed to being a business with a purpose, not just a profit.