It’s time for sustainable skincare 101. Over half of consumers care about sustainability when shopping for skincare. Still, 64% of them find it difficult to tell whether a product or brand is sustainable.
Is it all about minimalist packaging? Clean ingredients? Ethical production practices?
The truth is, it’s a mix of many things. In this blog, we’ll break down a brief (but important) guide to choosing truly sustainable skincare products.
When we think about sustainable skincare, packaging might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it should be. About 120 billion units of packaging are created every year in the beauty industry. Of the units made of plastic, 70% end up in landfills.
What’s worse? It’s estimated that only 9% of all plastic waste created by any industry has been properly recycled. Ever.
Clearly, packaging is a huge source of waste in the skincare industry (even if it’s not the sexiest topic to discuss). So what can you do about it?
Look for brands that take a minimalist approach to their packaging. As in: one recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable container to hold the product.
On top of that, take note of the brand’s shipping packaging. Are they using a ton of unnecessary bubble wrap, paper, tape, and/or plastic? These might seem like tiny details in the grand scheme of things, but they can very quickly add up—especially for large corporations turning out thousands of product units per day.
At Iremia, we take pride in the way our sensitive skincare is packaged. In fact, our products are currently sold without any secondary packaging to avoid waste. As a small-batched, independently owned business, we can control every aspect of our processes—from choosing the right suppliers, to not wasting labels, to saving on tape and the stuffing that goes into our shipping boxes. We are conscious of how we operate every single step of the way, and that always includes our packaging.
This is one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the skincare industry today. Think about it: most skincare is full of natural, active ingredients. It has to be tested rigorously before hitting shelves and, even then, there’s no guarantee that consumers will like or need the product. At least not before those active ingredients expire.
All of these factors together create the perfect storm for waste. Unsold or returned products, formula testers, expired ingredients—the list goes on. The CEO of Prose, a custom hair care brand, estimates based on his own research that up to 40% of beauty products end up as waste (depending on the category).
How are some skincare brands contributing to the problem? By creating large product lines to sell more units and “offer more solutions” to their customers. But here’s the issue: this oversaturation of products only confuses customers, causing them to not buy anything or buy items that won’t actually suit their skincare needs.
The result: products wasting away on store shelves, bathroom shelves, or getting tossed in the trash.
That’s why minimal, streamlined product portfolios are key to operating as a sustainable skincare brand.
At Iremia, our entire ethos revolves around minimalism. We purposely avoid launching products often. And when we do, they need to have a verystrong role within the product line.
They also need to have the most effective benefits for those with sensitive skin, to ensure we don’t overload their skincare routine with products they don’t need.
On top of all that, operating as a small-batched business means that products are made fresh only when they are needed. This isn’t just a benefit to the environment, but to our customers as well.
What’sinside the skincare counts too, of course. More and more brands today are focusing on responsible ingredient tracing and sourcing. In other words, knowing exactly where their ingredients come from and how those ingredients impact the environment. Because when ingredients aren’t properly sourced, they can be part of a long string of wasteful practices.
Waste can also happen when unnecessary ingredients are added to a formula. This might be for marketing purposes, or to preserve a product longer than normal. The trick is to shop for minimalist skincare, which uses only the most effective ingredients to solve a problem for the consumer.
Just like with packaging and product creation, we’re all about minimalist ingredients here at Iremia. Our sensitive skincare uses a small (but mighty) list of ingredients to soothe irritation, redness, and inflammation. And we only work with suppliers who source their ingredients ethically and take their footprint seriously.
Ask questions and be kind to yourself.
Your search for sustainable skincare isn’t always going to be easy. Many brands aren’t 100% transparent about what goes into their skincare or the purpose behind each product in their portfolio.
That’s why it’s so important to take your time, ask brands lotsof questions, and treat yourself with kindness on your sustainability journey. You’re taking steps to make conscious choices, and that in itself is amazing. The right brands will be responsive, informative, educated, and eager to take your Qs and suggestions seriously.
Here’s to calm, glowing skin and a more sustainable future.