Beauty packaging plays a major role in our carbon footprint.
According to Zero Waste Europe, 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging are produced each year. Most of the cosmetics packaging is for single-use products and cannot be recycled, resulting in the 70% of product packaging that ends up in landfills in the U.S.
Packaging matters and has proven to drive sales in the beauty industry. According to a study by Westrock in 2018, 81% of beauty consumers said that they tried something new because the product packaging caught their eye, while 63% of consumers said they made a repeat purchase because of the appearance of the packaging.
While sustainability is nothing new in beauty, brands are more committed than ever to become zero-waste. Luxury brands Ren Skincare, Biossance, Herbivore, and Youth To The People came together for the #WeAreAllies campaign announcing a sustainability pledge. The brands hope to invigorate the prestige beauty industry to speak up and make good on their sustainability commitments.
Sustainable refill alternatives
In recent years, brands have started offering refillable beauty packaging to give their customers a waste minimizing and sometimes waste-less beauty routine.
Beyond the environment-saving benefits of refillable beauty products, refills also cost less than the original product since you’re not paying for the luxe protective packaging. If you’re a repeat purchaser, refills will allow you to enjoy your favorite products while reducing your waste and protecting the earth!
Brands like Bathing Culture have been at the forefront of the refill beauty space before it was even a trend. The refillable Mind and Body Wash ($30) is a fully organic multi-purpose wash housed in a decadent glass pump bottle. The brand sells one-gallon jugs (equivalent to 8 of the 16oz bottles), which are perfect for refilling our Rainbow Glass bottles or any other container you’d like to reuse.
Very Good Light spoke with Bathing Culture co-founder, Tim Hollinger on why beauty refill options are beneficial for the earth.
“Refills are amazing because you reduce the number of bottles, caps, and pumps in circulation,” Tim says. “Pump tops especially are very hard to recycle so we want everyone to hold onto their pumps and bottles and use them for years!”
On Earth Day, Very Good Light hopes that you will seek out sustainable and refillable alternatives for your favorite beauty and self-care products. We have rounded up a list of our favorite innovative beauty refills to get you going on your sustainability journey.
When it comes to refillable beauty, Bathing Culture does it right. From the packaging to the formula itself, Bathing Culture tries to make your beauty routine more sustainable and clean.
“We work hard to use ingredients that have undergone minimal processing and come primarily from organic farms,” says co-founder Tim Hollinger. “We’re also careful to make sure our ingredients are abundant, so you don’t have to feel guilty about using them.”
Mind and Body wash is a multi-purpose wash that is formulated with natural plant derived surfactants, such as coconut oil to cleanse even the most sensitive skin. We suggest investing in one of the Mind and Body Wash Home Refill Kits ($210), a bundle set with the glass/pump kit, and one full gallon of wash! The refillable glass container and pump can also be refilled at a local verified retailer.
The Handmade Soap Company has recently launched their refillable collection of hand soaps and lotion, which is certified by Ecocert, the leading European accreditation for natural beauty products. The certification help brands achieve full sustainable certifications from living wage to sustainable supply chains to formulations to the packaging to the end of life.
The Anam Collection features two headline products, Anam Wash ($36.95) and Anam Lotion. The Anam Collection is scented with natural oils such as coriander, geranium and, vetiver, leaving your hands and body with an earthy and invigorating scent. The Anam Wash is crafted with gentle plant based detergents to gently cleanse over washed hands while glycerin hydrates and replenishes lost moisture. The Anam Lotion is gentle, light, and moisturizes dry cracked hands with a plant based formula.
“We have pushed the green technology used in our packaging as far is currently available,” says brand founder Donagh Quigley to Very Good Light.
The Handmade Soap Company’s Anam Collection offers the first compostable refill pouch. “It’s a new technology we have spent two years developing, made from corn with vegetable glues and fully decomposes in six weeks,” says founder Donagh Quigley. After refilling your glass pump system, you simply toss this bag in your food waste or composting bin.
Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser ($36 for 8 0z. / $64 for 16 oz.)
The ultra-clean cleanser that we all know and love, Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser, is now refillable! Reuse your standard pump bottle and refill with the new 16 oz. version that comes without the pump. This cleanser is loaded with a superfood blend of kale, spinach, green tea, and other skin-benefiting vitamins. Once you finish the refill bottle, it can be easily and effectively recycled in your normal recycling bin.
Fenty Skin SPF 30 Hydra Vizor ($30 Refill / $35 Full-Size)
SPF has never looked so good! The Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor SPF 30 is a refillable moisturizer/primer/SPF hybrid from Fenty Skin by Rihanna. It’ll only cost you $30 to refill the pump when you’re finished with 1.7 oz. product. The Hydra Vizor formula features star ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen.
Humanrace Humidifying Cream ($44 Refill / $48 Full-Size)
The Humanrace Humidifying Cream was created by legendary artist Pharrell Williams and his longtime dermatologist Dr. Elena Jones. The three-step Humanrace skincare system is completely refillable across the entire range.
This cream is completely worth the initial investment and the refills are repurchase-worthy. This ultra-soothing facial moisturizer is loaded with star ingredients like snow mushroom, squalane, and niacinamide, to brighten and comfort even the most sensitive skin.
Nature Lab Tokyo Shampoo ($23)
NatureLab Tokyo doesn’t make you compromise beautiful packaging for sustainability. This refill system allows you to reuse your original NatureLab Tokyo shampoo and conditioner bottles with the 22.9-ounce refill pouch, which contains 85% less plastic than two full-size bottles. This gentle collection of hair products are formulated with naturally derived ingredients such as apple stem cell, quinoa, and yuzu fruit to help strengthen and soften hair.
The iconic men’s groom and deodorant brand Old Spice is now offering a refillable deodorant alternatives for their most popular scents. The updated packaging allows you to reuse the same canister and easily pop in a new scent when you’re looking to change things up, or just needing a refill. As always, the brand guarantees up to 48 hours of sweat-free protection.
Hourglass Confession Refillable Lipsticks ($22 Refill / $36 Full-Size)
Hourglass has mastered sustainable luxury beauty with their Refillable Confession Lipstick collection, which comes in 40+ lipstick shade options. The metallic gold refill case is designed to be used interchangeably with the entire collection, allowing you to refill your favorite or swap with a new shade. The formula is 100% vegan.
Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint SPF 30 ($32 Refill / $42 Full Size)
The new tinted moisturizer/SPF 30 hybrid from Milk Makeup is all you need for a healthy-looking even complexion with the added bonus of sun protection. Available in 15 different shades, this unique skin tint is applied with an innovative rollerball tip and refilled with cartridges sold separately.
Kjaer Weis Cream Blush ($32 Refill – $56 Full Size)
Kjaer Weis is redefining sustainable luxury with their refillable blush compacts. The ultra-lux metal compacts allow you to swap and refill your favorite Kjaer Weiss cream blush without the excess packaging. The cream blushes come in 13 shades and are formulated with organic skin-benefiting ingredients like almond and jojoba oil. The product can be used on the eyes, lips, and cheeks. Purchase the cream blush and iconic refill case for $56 and purchase cream blush refills for $32.
Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift Refillable Eyebrow Pencil ($15 Refill / $25 Full-Size)
Charlotte Tilbury recently launched the Brow Lift Refillable Eyebrow Pencil, which can be easily refilled. For anyone that goes through brow pencils on a regular basis, this can help reduce waste from packaging and non-recyclable plastic.