The Beauty Industry’s Journey Toward Sustainability

For years, the beauty community has been engulfed into pretty much the same spiral as fast fashion. Products were launched one after another, diminishing what’s left of an average consumer’s self-image, as these nitpick his deepest insecurities which were not supposed to be viewed as such in the first place. Today, there is a growing movement toward loving oneself for his unique attributes and viewing cosmetics as tools to accentuate these features that are pride-worthy.

Another growing trend is paying it forward for nature, which has provided us with all the life-giving resources we enjoy. With this transition towards a more wholesome space, here are the most notable changes:

Intuitive Packaging

Several attributes add to the value of a product’s packaging. Foremost of which is how it appears on the outside besides placing prime importance on the bottle’s weight. The heavier one is, the more luxurious usually the product experience is.

Consumers remain divided on preferring either lavishly bejeweled or minimal product packaging. Regardless, the curb appeal it adds to any bathroom sink or dresser is undeniable. What is worth noting is users are increasingly more conscious of the chemical composition of the skincare or makeup product itself more than its face value and how they are marketed.

We have yet to see the end of the debate on whether glass or plastic is the more sustainable material option for product packaging as both have environmental pros and cons. Glass is derived from still-abundant raw resources, and so they are relatively healthier for the environment to produce. Recycling glass containers usually come as second nature even in the developed world, but what makes cosmetic brands dodge this sustainable material is its fragility rendering it difficult for long-distance transport.

Whereas, plastic may be more resource-intensive and is notorious for mass-accumulating in natural habitats like the oceans. But, especially for commercial brands who prioritize profit margins over other business KPIs, it takes a shorter period and less energy to usually manufacture through injection molding technology. Recycling it is relatively easier than glass if manufacturers and consumers alike will only put their minds to it.

All these are more issues on the seller’s end. On the other hand, a resounding clamor for better value for money is for the consumers. And so, they want bottles designed with no long and narrow necks and the widest bodies that pack the highest product volumes or tubes you can squeeze out the most product from.

Recently, a brand came up with a bottle, one side of which has a pump while the other has a twist cap, as a response to a long-time issue of scraping off the leftover product in the bottom of its pump bottle. Consumers would also agree that they would prefer for a cosmetic product to be stored in easily recyclable, if not biodegradable material.

Recycling Empties

Some companies take back the recycling responsibility from the consumers by initiating empty bottle recalls for them to either sanitize and reuse or convert into energy to fuel their production. They encourage the returning habit among their fans by either offering to cleanse and refill their go-to products for them, if not granting them discounts for future purchases if they return their empties to their plants.

At times, brands further engage their product cycle arm by partnering with environmental non-profits, commonly those who raise funds to clean up the ocean and transport used plastic to manufacturing industries like apparel, sporting goods, kitchenware, and furniture that may need them.

Product Label


Cosmetic companies are one among the many consumer goods providers who vowed to transparently label their products. The goal of which primarily caters to consumers who may have underlying health conditions, and so may react adversely to the consumption or application of some products. More recently, though, the drive for ingredient transparency puts heavier bearing on how responsibly these raw materials were sourced and whether living organisms were subjected to harmful testing in the product conception stage.

It only makes sense how proactive many brands are into earning certifications such as the Leaping Bunny and that of World Wildlife Funds’. Some even go beyond the necessary and band with environmental organizations such as How2Recycle to generate product labels that are not only straightforward, informing the consumer of what the product is, what it is for, what it is made of, how it is used, and whether there are possible side effects to its use. This super intuitive product labeling format also includes what material the packaging is made of, whether it is recyclable, and if so, how to consider a particular state’s environmental regulations.

Holy 6-Free

Brand Drunk Elephant is at the forefront of the movement of avoiding the so-called suspicious 6, a list of ingredients that are chemically tested and proven to be harmful for human exposure or consumption. These include ingredients such as parabens, fragrances, essential oils, alcohols, silicones, SLS, and chemical screens. More brands are following suit.

Beauty has evolved from being self-centered to a more environmentally conscious space. With the threat of climate change growing, there is no time to waste but brands are steadily reaching the sustainable goals they have sworn for.

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