Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Matthew Kelly
There are hundreds of thousands of beauty brands on the market. In fact, in 2021, it was reported that in the United States alone there were 101,448 beauty, cosmetics and fragrance companies. With numbers like these, it’s hard for brands to stand out, but there is a huge area of opportunity in the industry that is facing an unprecedented innovation: the plastics problem.
From unconventional concepts to packaging solutions that take recycling and sustainability to the next level, we’re highlighting five brands that are changing the beauty industry as we know it.
When Plus Products hit the market in May 2021, the entire body care category was shaken up. The brand had found a way to create the shower staple we all use without the bottle – no plastic, no glass, no refillable cartridge, just the wash.
“The idea came when we learned that one in three items in landfill was from personal care and beauty products,” Cathryn Woodruff, CEO and co-founder of the brand, told POPSUGAR. “And we’ve also learned that products like shower gel can contain up to 90% water with a very small amount of active ingredients.” Woodruff and his co-founder Julie Schott set out to rethink the product from top to bottom and, with the help of cosmetic chemists, developed a square of dry shower gel that activates into a rich foam on contact with water. .
“For it to be successful and for people to embrace this product, it had to be as good as the shower gel they now love.”
“It comes in that soluble packaging, made from wood pulp, that goes down your sewer,” Woodruff said. “Essentially, you jump in the shower, tear up the soluble sachet, take out your square of shower gel, put it under the water, and it foams into a foam-like liquid shower gel. Then you can drop the shower gel. sachet down the drain and watch it dissolve within 10 seconds. ”
Good idea, but it didn’t come without its own set of challenges, like making sure the ink used in the soluble packaging is actually safe and FDA and USDA approved to go down your drain. (It’s approved for food contact, just like an FYI.) Then came the challenge of getting the formula fair right. “In order for this to be successful and for people to embrace this product, it had to be as good as the shower gel they currently love,” said Woodruff. She stressed that sustainability is extremely important, but for a more sustainable option to replace existing products on the market, it must perform as well, if not better.
Image source: Courtesy of More
It’s a fact Shannon Goldberg, founder of Izzy Zero Waste Beauty, the world’s first refillable, carbon-neutral, waste-free mascara, knows all too well. When she launched Izzy in April 2021, she knew her brand concept was unique, but her mascara formula also had to be able to stand up to countless competitors. This is why the brand was launched four months after its original start date. “If we are to change the world and the way we do things beautifully, this product has to be good,” she said.
The idea for Izzy and a fully refillable mascara came to her when she moved to Florida and got to see first-hand all the junk in the beauty industry that is never recycled and ends up ending up. in the ocean. “My engineer and I started to wonder what the rest of the industry is doing? We’ve looked at cardboard solutions, we’ve looked at PCR plastics, we’ve looked at the refill industry, ”Goldberg said. “With refills we thought this is probably the most profound thing we can do beautifully to make a meaningful change, but after looking at it more closely we found flaws. you give a customer a primary container, whether it’s a primary plastic or aluminum container, but then you give them pouches or small plastic containers to pour into those large containers.
Then the idea of using stainless steel hit her. “When you think of our jewelry or silverware and other things that are really handed down and meant to be durable, they’re stainless steel,” she said, which is what the mascara tube is made for. made of medical grade stainless steel. This durability allows the tube to be returned to the company every two months via a cloth pouch where it is cleaned using the same process that sterilizes surgical tools. The wand itself is melted and reshaped into a new one and the tube is filled and returned. “The mascara I use today could one day be transferred to my grandson,” Goldberg said. “That’s how disruptive this idea is.”
The goal being that absolutely nothing was thrown away, Izzy also had to find a new solution for the labels. The steel tube engraving worked for the name of the product itself, but the marketing information and product instructions did not fit. “We have decided to put a QR code engraved on the bottom of our stainless steel packaging and also in our reusable sender,” she said.
Image source: Courtesy of Izzy
In addition to the stainless steel mascara tubes and soluble shower gel, Opulus Beauty Labs is another brand that just hit the market in April 2021 with a totally unconventional concept inspired by chocolate candies. Brand founder Robb Akridge, PhD, wanted to bring the idea of stand-alone single-serve portions into the world of beauty candy without single-use packaging. “I thought to myself: how can we create single dose cosmetics in all areas of beauty that are freshly activated on demand, create an experience that touches all the senses and offer the consumer something that they don’t has ever seen? ”
The idea of having cosmetic ingredients freshly activated during use is similar to ampoules, but Dr Akridge has gone further (and eliminated the single-use plastic or glass component that usually comes with ampoules), and the “Opoule” was born. “It is a precise, single-dose, stand-alone product, the size of a small chocolate, made up of two distinct formulations – the outer layer and the inner core – both composed only of cosmetic ingredients, without plastic or disposable pods. . ,” he said. To “activate” the stand-alone formula, you place it in the Opulus Activator, a small, hand-held cosmetic device that acts like a mortar and pestle and breaks it down in just 60 seconds.
The result is a face cream which, unlike traditional products which are filled at the factory before being stored on store shelves, is freshly whipped moments before applying. The device also eliminates the need for a jar or bottle to hold the formula and can be used for years, reducing single-use waste.
Loli Beauty is another major beauty sustainability leader that has been around for a few years but continues to redefine what it means to be zero waste. All of the brand’s products are already packaged in food-grade glass jars that can be reused for food storage, and the labels are compostable, but in March 2021, the brand launched its Arnica Elderberry Jelly at Ulta Beauty, which pushed the boundaries even further. .
“I can’t tell you how many laps it took to get to where we are today because it has never been done before – we hit our heads a few times because there was no no reference to copy. “
“We wanted the gel to be water-free, food-grade, organic, cruelty-free, vegan and made with recycled ingredients,” said Tina Hedges, founder of the brand. “The next step was to make sure our packaging met all of our zero waste requirements. That’s why, in addition to recycled and recyclable glass and compostable labels, they redesigned the box itself. “We grow mushrooms to create the tray that the product is placed in and we wrap it with hemp paper,” Hedges said. “So our packaging is 100% compostable for the worms and the garden. It’s a much cooler and more durable option than the carton in which most personal care and cosmetic products are found.
But switching to shipping everything in mushroom wrap and never throwing anything away is a big question, which is why it’s worth mentioning that many other brands are making incredibly significant changes in other areas. For example, when Rihanna launched Fenty Skin, from the start, all of its packaging was refillable. Then there is PYT Beauty, which has started adding a patented ingredient to some of its packaging that chemically degrades plastics during the manufacturing phase to act as a “safety net when plastic is not recycled”, has said the brand in a meeting with beauty editors. This ingredient depolymerizes and disintegrates plastic, lowering molecular weight by 50 percent, reducing its ecological burden on nature.
Challenging the norm and reinventing the wheel, so to speak, isn’t an easy feat, but when done successfully, it’s incredibly rewarding. “I can’t tell you how many laps it took to get to where we are today because it has never been done before – we hit our heads a few times because there was no no reference to copy, ”Goldberg said. “I always tell my team, there is no creative glass ceiling. Where there is a will, there is a way.”