This year the focus was on our health and that of our loved ones, but we can’t forget about the health of our planet.
According to a report from Bloomberg, ocean plastic pollution is on track to triple by 2040. COVID-19 isn’t helping matters – the report notes that the pandemic has increased the use of single-use plastic. There is some hope: an analysis published in partnership with Pew Charitable Trusts says that that volume could be cut by 80% if we take action to reduce the growth of virgin plastic production, improve waste collection systems across the globe, and invest in the creation of plastic materials that are easier to recycle.
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Beauty consumers make up a part of that waste, which means we have no choice other than to be part of the solution. According to Euromonitor International, in 2018 almost 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were created just for beauty and personal care products in the United States.
There’s no denying that packaging helps sell a product. I’m not pointing fingers – I, too, have been lured in by the shiny heavy plastic of a YSL lipstick or the tiny golden spoon that comes with Tatcha products. But we’ve had our fun. It’s time to face the harsh reality that those “luxury touches” might look nice, but at the end of the day when the product is all used up, it’s really just trash.
If those statistics scare you, they should. The good news is that we can help turn this sinking ship around before it’s too late. Major beauty conglomerates at the top have already pledged to make sustainability a part of their business plans: The L’Oréal Group and Unilever are hoping to make 100 percent of their plastic packaging reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2025. Procter & Gamble has a program that puts Pantene in refillable containers and pledges 100 percent of its products’ packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2030.
These commitments are a step in the right direction, but real change involves a change at the consumer level as well as the corporate level. It’s up to us to stop supporting the luxurious waste of excessive package and seek out sustainable options that align with our values, and hope that all beauty brands will follow suit and make the investment in more sustainable packaging.
Sustainable and ethical beauty buying is part of the larger climate change movement. From what you buy to who you elect to office, it all matters. Together, these changes can help make a more beautiful world.
Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite sustainable beauty products that are good for the planet and your skin. As we hunker down indoors for the holidays, these products make great gifts for yourself or others in your life whose New Year’s resolution is to shop sustainably.
1. Blue Heron Botanicals Lip Therapy ($8-$43)
This ultra-rich lip balm comes handcrafted from a small business in Northern California in plastic-free packaging. Featuring superior quality medicinal herbs, essential oils, and carrier oils selected for their unique healing qualities, these balms are packaged in 100% PCW recycled paper and is recyclable or home compostable.
2. Julique Activating Water Essence ($58)
This hydrating essence is made with fourteen carefully chosen natural extracts including marshmallow root extract, calendula, lavender, and rosemary – all of which are hand-grown and harvested on the Jurlique farm in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, certified biodynamic by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia.
3. Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil ($49)
Josie Maran takes pride in the sustainable practices it takes to create its 100% pure argan oil, which is harvested in a UNESCO-protected region of Morocco in the purest, most traditional way possible. Indigenous Berber women ride donkeys up the mountain to collect the nuts, fill their baskets, and return to the production facility to star production. They keep the unused shells for future sustainable projects, hand-crack each and every nut the old-fashioned way using rocks, and finally cold-press the kernels to produce the pure oil.
4. Herbivore Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Serum ($48)
Herbivore uses 100% recyclable glass bottles instead of plastic whenever possible, including in this hemp seed and adaptogen-filled glow oil. It contains premium organic Colorado-grown full-spectrum CBD to soothe stressed-out skin in need of calm and relief from redness, irritation, and environmental stressors.
5. Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil ($48)
Osea has been incorporating sustainability practices into its skincare line since its founding in 1996. It takes 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel and 15 times as much water to produce the same amount of animal protein versus plant protein, which is why they believe vegan skincare is the best choice for the planet. At each touch-point, Osea aims to minimize their impact by bottling their products in recyclable glass, eliminating synthetic ingredients that harm the ecosystem, and evaluating their shipping and fulfillment practices.
6. Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil ($72)
Biossance’s sustainably sourced, Brazillian sugarcane-derived squalane saves 2 million sharks every year. All Biossance formulations are developed in a My Green Lab Platinum Certified facility, reducing their environmental impact. Additionally, for each order shipped, the company plant trees and funds reforestation projects.
7. Marie Veronique Vitamins C+E+Ferulic Serum ($90)
Marie Veronique uses green, organic, all-natural ingredients to craft her powerful skincare line. This serum delivers a sun protection boost to daily sunscreen and neutralizes free radicals.
8. Kinship Supermellow Gel Cream Moisturizer ($24)
Kinship’s clean, cruelty-free, plant-based formulas are some of our favorites, but their sustainability practices are what really impress us. Kinship uses Ocean Waste Plastic (OWP) and post-consumer recycled (PCR) materials in their packaging, and to date, they’ve helped remove over two tons of plastic waste from our oceans.
9. Dieux Forever Eye Masks ($25)
These are the eye masks of the future. The Forever Eye Mask is a reusable eye patch that holds gels, serums and creams close to the skin for maximum absorption. Even better: they last forever, which is good for the planet and your wallet.
10. Bathing Culture Face and Body Oil ($32)
Made in San Francisco from natural and organic ingredients in refillable rainbow-adorned 100 percent recycled materials (glass, aluminum, or pre-existing plastic), Bathing Culture takes sustainability seriously. Jojoba, sea buckthorn, marula, sweet almond, Abyssinian, and coconut MCT oil come together in this magically hydrating body oil to moisturize and reinforce your skin’s natural barrier.
11. LastRound Reusable Cotton Rounds ($14)
LastRound is reusable cotton rounds made of 100% sustainably sourced materials. Each cotton round washable, completely compostable, replaces 1,750 single-use cotton rounds. At $14, it’s a no-brainer investment.
12. Doing Experiments Avant Guard Sheet Mask ($22)
Didn’t you hear? Sheet masks are dead and reusable sheet masks are in. We love this super cool Gen Z take on the sustainable sheet mask trend from Doing Experiments, a brand we’re definitely looking forward to seeing more from.
13. Face Halo PRO Reusable Makeup Remover Pads ($22)
I don’t know how Face Halo works, but it just WORKS. These makeup removing pads remove stubborn eye makeup in just one swipe, plus, each Face Halo replaces up to 500 single-use makeup wipes. After trying out these reusable makeup pads, I promise you’ll never go back.
14. SiO Superlift Pack ($46)
What can I say, I can’t get enough of reusable silicone sheet masks. I love that I can target specific areas of my face with this version from SiO, which is supposed to address fine lines and wrinkles. This set includes reusable plumping and crease-smoothing masks for your forehead, under and outer eyes, and neck.
15. Ulta Fingerprint Silicone Blender ($5)
Stop buying beauty sponges that you toss after a few months and try a silicone sponge, which doesn’t absorb makeup so no product is wasted. The silicone can be washed and reused for a lifetime.
16. Ethique Shampoo Bar ($15)
Ethique is a leader in the beauty sustainability space as the world’s first zero-waste and self-described “most sustainable beauty brand.” The brand uses biodegradable ingredients and compostable packaging so all solid bars leave no trace. These shampoo bars contain no plastic outer plastic packaging (obviously), and cleanses hair with a blend of cocoa butter, peppermint oil and creamed coconut butter.
17. Acala Bamboo Face Flannel ($6)
If you’re still using single-use makeup wipes at this point, let this be the last package you ever buy. Invest in a few flannels or washcloths, which feel better on your skin and can be cleaned in a washing machine. Trust us, once you go flannel, you’ll never go back.