• Beauty

Emma Lewisham: world first carbon-positive beauty

From refillables to recycling and high-performance clean ingredients

Emma Lewisham has become the world’s first carbon positive beauty brand launching a 100 per cent circular designed product range, the IP for which has been made public in the hope of setting the benchmark for how all beauty brands should operate.

The circular approach, which went through a 12 month long external certification process via Toitu Environcare, has gained the approval of humanitarian and UN messenger of Peace Jane Goodhall who says: 

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy. I sincerely hope that the beauty industry can follow Emma Lewisham’s lead. I believe they are paving the way for the future.’’

Achieving carbon positive status is no mean feat, setting the standard at an extremely high level Emma hopes her global peers will follow.

“The work involved in becoming carbon positive certified is massive, I can’t stress that enough. There is a lot more information and data involved when you certify a business at a product level, you have to measure and reduce your carbon emissions for each product as opposed to becoming certified at a business level wherein you don’t have to measure your carbon emissions per product,” she says.

“We spent 12 months working to measure the carbon emissions emitted at each stage of each product’s lifecycle, including the harvesting and production of raw ingredients used, transportation, product packaging and end-of-life for each product in order to put reduction plans in place before positively offsetting what could not be reduced.”

It is Emma’s ultimate hope by sharing the blueprint that helped them achieve a circular model, to create real, industry-altering change.

“The problems we face are so much greater than the success of one business or brand, and if we are going to solve them, collaboration is key,” she says.

The story of Emma Lewisham

Imagine suddenly finding out a product you’d been using every day to treat a common skin complaint turned out to be potentially carcinogenic. It’s shocking, but also surprisingly common, and it was a reality that pregnant entrepreneur Emma Lewisham faced while sitting in her doctor’s office a couple of years ago. 

“I was told by my doctor to stop using (hydroquinone) as it was unsafe and banned in Europe and Japan for a reason,” she recalls of the ingredient used to treat her hyperpigmentation.

It sent her down a rabbit hole of research where, Emma says, she uncovered how unregulated the beauty industry is and that the last major changes to beauty regulations occurred almost 100 years ago. 

“That was surprising to me, I think many people (including myself) assume there are strict regulations in place to vet what is in our skincare, when actually a lot of skincare does contain ingredients which are harmful or dubious for our health,” Emma says. 

Not happy with the current state she found herself in, Emma set out to create her own range of skincare. One that promised results backed by science but used clean, non-toxic ingredients. 

“I decided to be the change I wanted to see in the beauty industry. This meant creating a line of 100 per cent natural, non-toxic products that would be as efficacious, if not more, than chemical alternatives,” she says of her namesake Emma Lewisham Beauty brand. 


The global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year with very few products actually ending up being recycled. It was a statistic that also floored Emma 

and one that inspired her to create products that weren’t just better from an ingredient perspective, but also gentle on the planet. 

As well as fully biodegradable 100 per cent recycled paper boxes and refillable , Emma also created the Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle, a free incentive based recycling program aimed at reducing waste created by the industry. She also has plans for 100 per cent recycled plastic tubes for early next year. 

“Every tier of our supply chain is considered and we ask the question, “Is this going to be good for people and the planet?” at every touchpoint. Sustainability is an area we go the extra mile in and we’re championing change. 

 “We were told repeatedly that what we were trying to create in our products and in our mission for a sustainable beauty brand was impossible, but we proved this wrong.”

It took three years for you to launch your first product, what was that time like for you? 

It was a very intensive time, we had many rounds of research and development. A lot of the work we’ve done has been a beauty-first, so we have learnt a lot from trying out different things. We were told repeatedly that what we were trying to create in our products and in our mission for a sustainable beauty brand was impossible, but we proved this wrong over and over again. 

Many natural beauty brands still use phenoxyethanol, why did you decide to go for a different preservative?

Some brands may say they’re natural and clean, but they use a preservative called phenoxyethanol which is linked to skin allergies and health issues. Often, this ingredient is used in order to make a “paraben-free” claim.  We decided that we could not accept this, and could not compromise our customers’ health. Our green scientists worked for six months to crack the natural preservative code, with a truly natural preservative that has passed rigorous testing. 

We’ve been searching for a natural retinol replacement for ages, tell us about yours – how effective is it? 

Our Supernatural Triple Vitamin A+ Face Oil contains a next-generation Vitamin A, an advancement called Bakuchiol. Bakuchiol has been scientifically proven to be as powerful as synthetic forms of retinol, showing a significant improvement in lines and wrinkle severity, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness and overall reduction in photo-damage. Remarkably, it doesn’t come with the compromise and known side-effects of retinol, such as redness, dryness and irritation.

What’s your favourite natural beauty brand or go-to beauty products?

I like WelleCo super elixir and RMS beauty!

What’s your best anti-aging tip (naturally, of course!)

To wear a broad spectrum SPF30+ every single day. Skin ages because collagen and elastin fibres break down. Exposure to UV rays speeds up this process. If you want to keep your skin looking and feeling as young as possible, you need a moisturiser with SPF incorporated in the formula.

What do you do when you’re not creating skincare?

Spending time with my daughter and husband. I also love learning and I am fascinated with what makes people tick, so I am a big reader of biographies. The ones lately that have been meaningful to me are Michelle Obama’s, Jo Malone’s, Arianna Huffington’s and Phil Knights’. I also love to do yoga and running. 


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