I know they say you should never judge a book by a cover, but the same just can't be said for beauty products. Sure, some of the hardest-working formulas come in the most nondescript packaging (CeraVe, we're looking at you), but whether we'll admit it or not, a fancy bottle does play a big part in us parting with our money. If its contents don't meet up to its miraculous claims? Well, hey, never mind, at least you got a good #shelfie out of it. Beyond shelf appeal, however, there's a more sinister reason beauty packaging is getting a lot of attention right now—there's just so damn much of it.
Just as we've forgone plastic straws (we were way ahead of you, Theresa May) and swapped to reusable coffee cups, it's high time we open up our bathroom cabinets and take a moment to truly consider the impact our beauty routines are having on the environment. Of course, there's plenty of debate surrounding the impact of swirling parabens down the plughole, and finally, we've nipped microbeads in the bud, albeit probably too late.
But the stuff it comes housed in is getting pretty out of hand too. First, there's the issue of plastic, and there's no denying that the environment is suffering under the weight of our overzealous plastic use. In fact, figures released this week revealed that horrifically, a million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die every year by eating or getting tangled in our plastic waste.
Seemingly recyclable cardboard isn't exactly innocent in all of this either. Why is it that every tiny pot and tube comes housed in reams of the stuff? Of course, it adds to the marvel of the purchase, but in all honesty, I think we care a lot more about the planet than that rush of adrenaline as we peel back the layers of tissue paper and cellophane.
Products that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones either: Just like plastic, considering we as a nation struggle to properly wash out empty containers, whether all of this waste is actually getting recycled is a pretty dubious topic too.
Where do we go from here?
We've reached a new level of consumer consciousness. Quite frankly, it's never been more important to consider not only whether a new beauty product is right for your skin or hair but also whether its boxes, cartons, bottles and cellophane fit in with your morals too. And as more of us become eco-activists in our own ways, brands need to move fast or risk getting left behind—or worse, shamed via social media.
I wish I could now reel off a list of multiple brands that have really got this eco-friendly packaging thing nailed, but alas sadly, we're just not there yet. That being said, there are a few brands that have made incredible headway and will (hopefully) act as pioneers for brands to follow suit. These brands are making great waves. Let's hope for ours (and our planet's) sake that this is just the start.
Shop eco-friendly packaging
The boxes that house Floral Street's delectable scents are made from a moulded paper pulp and are 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
Tata Harper chooses to house all of its products in glass bottles and tubs as, unlike plastic, it can be recycled an infinite number of times.
As well as turning many of our most used toiletries solid (thus requiring no bottle to contain them) and selling most products with little more than a paper wrapper to keep it intact, Lush has always had sustainability in mind.
Although not yet launched, L'Oréal Professionnel's new vegan haircare line comes packaged in recycled plastic bottles. Rather than the traditional tubular design, the brand chose a square format to hold as much product in as little plastic as possible and to ensure better tessellation when shipping large quantities of the stuff.
Lastly, with an eco-friendly conscience at the centre of everything Aveda does, it's proud to be the first beauty company to use 100% post-consumer recycled PET.