Our earnest plastic-ditching attempts may have been recently thwarted by the need for extra sanitation during the global pandemic, but it’s time to consciously regain control over our beauty routines. This Plastic Free Beauty Month, meet the brands leading the way when it comes to plastic alternatives, repurposing and reusing as we reframe the focus on sustainability in what’s about to become the new normal.
Before Covid-19 struck the world, we were endeavouring to change our plastic habits for good. Disposable straws were shunned, reusable coffee cups and metal water bottles resided on every desk, and we started to give our bathroom recyclables the same attention as our kitchen ones. But having to rely on more sanitary single-use items in the middle of a pandemic has put all that on hold. Plastic bag usage has surged, not to mention the tiny bottles of hand sanitiser, disposable cups and cling film-wrapped fruit. In fact, polystyrene manufacturers have seen double digit percentages of sales increases in the food packaging and health care sectors over the last few months – the unrecyclable form of plastic was slowly being phased out before the pandemic hit.
As the world adjusts to a new normal, it’s essential we regain control of our plastic use however we can, without putting our health and safety at risk. And that starts in the bathroom, a place safe from the risks of the outside world. Recycling company TerraCycle reports that the worldwide cosmetics industry generates 120 billion pieces of packaging per year, with 8 million pieces of plastic entering the ocean each day. Now that we find ourselves surrounded by new limitations, with many recycling facilities being shut down due to the virus, the focus has been placed on reducing plastic use and reusing what we can.
Today marks the second year of Plastic Free Beauty Day, which urges us to shun plastics and share how we repurpose empties. We’ve rounded up the beauty brands to know about when it comes to leading the way in packaging innovations.
The Plastic-Free Pioneers
While these brands may not be 100% perfect in terms of their plastic-free credentials, they are leading the way when it comes to innovative packaging alternatives and sustainability practices
Created by Danish make-up artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis, this organic cosmetics brand houses cream and powder formulations in its beautifully designed silver packaging. Rather than repurchasing a new compact each time, every one of its products comes as a refill, so you can easily pop in a new shade to try it out and re-use rather than recycle. On top of that, the crimson leather outer packaging makes for the perfect jewellery travel case or desktop paperclip holder, and has since been replicated in the brand’s new Red Edition cardboard compacts, which are 100% recyclable and compostable.
Co-founded by former president of L’Oréal and Lancôme Sue Y. Nabi, Orveda takes a modern, holistic approach to skincare, combining “the best of nature with the best of science”. Where it harnesses the power of marine flora in its formulations, it always ensures to never disrupt the precious ocean ecosystem, and has a commitment to using less than 5% of plastic in its packaging, as well as swapping out plastic lettering in favour of water-based ink. The brand’s mindful approach to sustainability is in keeping with its approach to products, which feature vegan actives made from a mix of natural prebiotics, bio-fermented marine enzymes and Kombucha black tea.
Overnight Skin Recovery Masque
Created and shipped from Margate using local seaweed, cult British natural skincare and fragrance brand Haeckels does its best to ensure consumers receive as little waste as possible with every product, rather than placing the emphasis on recycling it when it arrives. All their packaging is made from glass and algae is used in a truly innovative way to create bottle seals and mycelium, a completely biodegradable, fungus-like bacteria that’s grown and formed into protective moulds for delivery. Choose from bestsellers like their original seaweed soaps, infused body cleanser or the famed seaweed bath soak.
Bladderwrack + Buckthorn
When vegan skincare brand Bybi first launched in 2017, their innovative packaging, made from a bioplastic derived from sugarcane, caught the attention of the media and consumers alike, and rightly so. They were one of the first beauty brands to use the plastic alternative, which offsets carbon emissions with the growing of the plant, and it has since been adopted by many other brands. Alongside this they also make 70% of their packaging from glass, a natural material that can be recycled over and over again, and print their wording directly onto the bottles instead of using labels, which are usually coated in plastic and are not recyclable.
Beauty Babe Balm
When you order an aluminium can of Kankan soap, it arrives in a cardboard box and an amber glass bottle (if you choose), both of which can be sent back to the company to reuse or recycle.The handmade soaps feature beautifully scented, all-natural ingredients like chamomile, lavender and juniper, and for each sale a tree is planted through the One Tree Planted initiative. Aluminium is being heralded as the best plastic alternative for many sustainable beauty brands; whereas only 9% of plastics ever made have been recycled, 75% of aluminium produced is still in use today, and recycling only requires 8% of the energy needed to create it from scratch.
Mandarin & Clary Sage Handwash
Sheet masks are known for being one of beauty’s biggest single-use offenders, with both the plastic packaging and masks thrown away on repeat. Vegan Korean skincare brand Sioris packages theirs in paper, with the mask itself derived from eucalyptus extract, and it is said to be the first of its kind. Niacinamide, plum water and ginseng make this the ultimate nourishing and brightening power pack for dull lacklustre skin, so you can indulge in all the benefits with zero guilt. Alongside this you’ll find products packed with seasonal products harvested from local organic farms, like scrubs made from brown rice flour and cleansers made from soothing Bishops Weed.
Make It Bright Sheet Mask
We Are Paradoxx
An environment-first, 97% natural Irish haircare brand that uses heritage ingredients such as hops, clover, moss and whiskey, We Are Paradoxx skips plastic wherever possible and houses products in aluminium, the only material that can be recycled infinitely. What’s more, the smart designs of their products mean they can also be re-filled and reused endlessly, finding new life as shower gel dispensers, toothbrush holders or hip flasks. They’re also an active member of 1% For The Planet, an organisation that deliver funding directly to various environmental charities, through which they donate 1% of their annual revenue to green causes.
Super Natural Shampoo