In Your Element with Jina Kim

In Your Element is a photo series and open dialogue with experts, community and thought leaders that truly practice what they preach.

This month we sat down with beauty gurus to talk about clean beauty and get tips on how to transition to a toxic-free regiment. Jina Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of the sustainable beauty line Circumference, gave us some great tips on how to navigate the Clean Beauty industry.

Tell us about Circumference and how you began your journey into the sustainable beauty world.

Prior to starting Circumference, I was working with a team to launch a sustainable athletic apparel line. It was an eye-opening experience to see the response and support from customers and we fully believed this was a necessity for future generations.

Around this time, my personal interest in beauty started to pique and, as a long-time beauty and skincare enthusiast, I was starting to notice that the beauty industry seemed to be not only quiet within the sustainability conversation, but often to the contrary.

So we set out to start Circumference in hopes to develop new ways of thinking about how beauty products come together – using ethical, sustainable practices that can have a positive impact environmentally, socially, and economically — all without sacrificing efficacy!

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your Clean Beauty journey, both in your personal and work life?

The challenge is very real – this is an industry that doesn’t have a lot of transparency and the term sustainability is yet to be concretely defined. Beyond supporting brands that use environmentally friendly packaging, the impact can be so much greater if we start to really look at how ingredients are sourced, processed, formulated, and manufactured. It’s not as simple as recycling bottles, unfortunately.

In my day-to-day life, I try to be as conscious of my purchases as possible. That means making choices with strong intention after thoughtful research of a brand’s values and practices and how my support can further their mission.

 

Lots of brands seem to be jumping on the “green train”. What should consumers look out for when researching Clean Beauty brands?

I think oftentimes, consumers mix together the terms “natural” or “organic” with “sustainable” when in reality, it can be the complete opposite. There are many natural ingredients that face global shortages and especially given how volatile beauty trends can be, demand for certain ingredients can spike which can put a strain on producers and their methods of cultivating various plants. And with that strain can come unethical practices and shortcuts to meet demand and the quality goes down as use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals become more prevalent. 

Beyond that, natural isn’t always safe. There are many instances in which natural ingredients degrade, go bad or become unstable which can potentially pose risk on your health. There’s certainly a time and place for synthetics that can effectively help stabilize actives and maintain safe efficacy in beauty products.

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