‘Sustainable beauty? That’s not something you hear every day.’ Admittedly this comment came from a man who probably doesn’t live and breathe beauty or dabble in cosmetics on a daily basis, let alone read up on every emerging trend in the industry. But that was his initial reaction when I mentioned some of the topics I covered on my blog. Does beauty have as bad a reputation as fashion when it comes to sustainability? With its over packaged products, micro-plastics polluting the waters and single use packaging it doesn’t have the best track record, yet the sustainable and reusable packaging trend is very much on the rise, as shown with rising beauty brand Love Beauty and Planet and its recycled plastic bottles. As design and packaging agency PKG confirm, ‘packaging designs that are recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, or even reusable are gaining steam, and virtually no brand is exempt from addressing the issue of packaging sustainability’. And some brands are definitely tackling the issue head on, from stripping back unnecessary layers to sourcing truly innovative solutions. Here I look at three aesthetically pleasing plastic-free options that will eclipse your standard shampoo bottle.
It’s funny how trends go through a lifecycle that sees them burst onto the scene, all ground breaking and innovative, to then fade into the background, be replaced by something newer and fresher, before the appropriate time has elapsed and it can make its comeback, phoenix-style, risen from the ashes all fresh faced and branded as the new ‘thing’. Soap bars have gone through this process and come full circle: the humble bar was the body cleanser of choice for my parents and grandparents’ generations, before the liquid soap took over, invading every bathroom and, if status-enhancing (hello Molton Brown), to be proudly displayed next to the basin with a matching hand lotion. When working for a hotel toiletries distributor I definitely went through that phase. But the soap bar is back, in no small part thanks to Lush with their solid shampoos and packaging-free Naked stores opening in Milan, Berlin and Manchester. Soap Folk, a small independent small-batch British company, makes beautifully wrapped soaps that are palm oil free and certified organic by The Soil Association. This means that the soap is 100% natural and 86% organic. On top of that it’s a hard soap so has a lower carbon footprint than the liquid version (as you’re not transporting water) and the wrapping is FSC certified, meaning the trees used to make the paper come from well-managed forests, not endangered rainforests. To top it off it’s printed using non-toxic vegetable inks so it’s made from fast-growing, renewable material and it’s easier to de-ink, which is especially important in the recycling process (source: Bamboo Ink). Will the soap bar enjoy a full comeback? I think it may take a little time for shoppers to say goodbye to the liquid soap bottle, but with such elegant offerings from the likes of Soap Folk there’s every chance you could be converted. 115g RRP £5.95
Beauty that gives back? That’s what BUFF natural body care is all about. Founder Jo Woolvett has always been a sea lover so with the launch of her candles, scrubs and oils range she commits 2% of profits to The Marine Conservation Society, as well as a monthly donation to Surfers Against Sewage who clean up beaches and promote protection of coastlines. She practices what she preaches through BUFF, housing all her products in glass jars and bottles that feature easy peel recyclable labels, so once you’ve used up the product you can peel the label off, put it in with your recycling and reuse the beautiful amber jar, giving it a second lease of life. As for the actual body scrub, this gentle blend was specifically designed for use during pregnancy and for new mums looking for a multi-purpose beauty product that exfoliates, soothes and moisturises. Containing just 9 natural ingredients, the unprocessed sea salt gently exfoliates dead skin whilst the certified organic coconut oil nourishes and the scent of lavender oil soothes and improves sleep. When it comes to sustainability the brand considers all aspects of the business, from formula to packaging and corporate social responsibility, even working with their suppliers to reduce the use of plastic and even reusing all plastic packaging they receive to send out wholesale orders. 170ml RRP £18.50
I’ve kept the most interesting until last. Unboxing this little gem was a true delight, with the jar nestled in a bed of straw, accompanied by a wooden bamboo spoon and organic cotton cloth tied with string and decorated with a sprig of lavender, it was like receiving a precious egg. This plastic free cleansing set from Happi Body Co truly represents clean beauty, where the environmental impact of the product has been considered in every aspect, from the formulation to the packaging. This ultra nourishing cleansing melt contains just 14 natural ingredients ranging from plant oils to butters. Moisturising mango butter, anti-inflammatory beeswax and calming lavender oil are some of my favourite highlights, as well as sea buckthorn oil known for its skin protecting properties. But the true star of the show here is the container; I’ve never come across such an interesting cutting-edge material. Lightweight, sleek and 100% biodegradable, this premium two-tone jar is just begging to be re-used. Made by a Finnish company called Sulapac, the microplastic-free material is made from FSC-certified sustainable Nordic wood and can be used by plastic manufacturers on their existing machinery. I mean IT BLOWS MY MIND! Why can’t everything be made out of this material? Once the pot is empty you can just put it in your compost where it will naturally degrade, or if you live in a city it can go in your standard bin where it will also degrade without polluting the environment. However its sleek Scandi aesthetics also make it an ideal trinket box so I will definitely be hanging on to mine and reusing it. 30g RRP £23.00
As the impact of plastic consumption becomes increasingly apparent, brands like Soap Folk, BUFF and Happi Body Co can lead the way in innovative ways to package skincare products without compromising on delivering beautiful ranges. Which sustainable beauty items have caught your attention recently? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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