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This is a summarised version of our longer blog post which you can read here.

The ever-growing pressure to align with the plant-based/vegan trend has prompted us to explore alternative options to our current beeswax formula. As a self-proclaimed 'pragmatic' vegan, I've embarked on a thorough investigation to ensure that any changes we make are not merely following a trend but are genuinely ethical and sustainable.

The Quest for a Vegan Formula

In response to the increasing demand for a beeswax-free formula, we developed a vegan alternative that achieved an SPF10 rating in lab tests. However, its performance in real-world conditions fell short compared to our current formula. Delving deeper into the matter, I discovered concerning issues surrounding one common vegan substitute, candelilla wax. Despite its touted benefits, the exploitation of the candelilla plant raises ethical and environmental concerns, including the risk of its gradual extinction and the hazardous manufacturing process involving sulfuric acid.

The Ethical Dilemma: Beeswax vs. Vegan Alternatives

As a 'pragmatic vegan,' I approach this dilemma with objectivity and research. To gain insight into the ethics of beekeeping and beeswax harvesting, I interviewed Julie Macken, founder of a beeswax-based cosmetics company and avid beekeeper. According to Julie, beekeeping has ancient roots, dating back thousands of years, and plays a crucial role in safeguarding bee populations, especially in the face of modern challenges like habitat loss and disease.

Contrary to common misconceptions, responsible beekeeping practices prioritise the well-being of bees and contribute to their sustainability. Small-scale beekeepers, like Julie, are deeply invested in maintaining healthy colonies and ensuring bees have ample food reserves. While industrial-scale beekeeping operations may raise valid concerns about exploitation and mass production, demonizing all beekeeping as 'cruel' overlooks the nuanced realities of the practice.

Moving beyond the beeswax debate, we must also scrutinize the ethics of vegan alternatives. Palm wax, soy wax, rice bran wax, olive wax, and coconut wax are commonly used substitutes, each with its own set of environmental and social challenges. Palm wax, for instance, is associated with deforestation and labour abuses, while soybean cultivation contributes to habitat destruction and pesticide pollution. Similarly, rice bran and olive wax production raise concerns about chemical processing and environmental degradation.

A Pragmatic Approach

In light of these complexities, it's evident that the quest for a vegan alternative is not without its ethical dilemmas. While beeswax may have its drawbacks, it remains a preferable option for us due to its natural properties and sustainable sourcing practices. Nevertheless, we remain committed to exploring alternatives that align with our values and deliver the same level of performance as our current formula.

In conclusion, the decision to transition to a vegan sunscreen formula requires careful consideration of not only ethical principles but also practicality and sustainability. By remaining vigilant and informed, we hope to find a solution that satisfies both our values and our customers' expectations.

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