It’s Time to Talk Waste Created by Beauty Products

In the middle of a busy year that included more culture-shaking world events than I’d seen in my lifetime, I also had a baby and moved to a new town. Getting settled during a pandemic has been a challenge. The grind of working and homeschooling and baby-raising and cleaning and cooking (all the cooking!) has felt relentless at times.

Ultimately, I’m so grateful that home has been a refuge for us. We’re safe. We’re healthy. I miss seeing my friends and family in real life, but I see the light on the other side.

Most of us have spent more hours at home in the past year than any other, which is why we decided to focus this issue on the concept of beauty at home. Beauty starts here: in our medicine cabinets, our showers and baths, our makeup bags, even in our beds. (We also partnered with the design experts at Architectural Digest to bring you some bathroom makeover inspiration.) In this letter several years ago, I mentioned my desire to find more minimalism in my chaotic home life. Update: I’m failing! Our house has become the literal home base for everything in our lives. Between the boxes of products that get delivered for work and a constant stream of groceries and other random stuff, I’m losing the war against an avalanche of cardboard, bubble wrap, Styrofoam cubes, and packing peanuts.

As an industry, we can do better. Disassembling the Russian dolls of nested boxes to reveal the tiny jar of eye cream at the center feels even more wasteful now that I see all of the packaging that piles up in our house between recycling pickups.

I recognize the significant steps that some brands are taking toward sustainability. I also acknowledge that we at Allure still have work to do when it comes to reducing waste. But we’re committed to realigning our priorities and have already seen a shift in our sensibilities. There was a time when the heaviest jars and sparkliest little spoons could make a skin-care product seem more special, maybe even more award-worthy. In recent years, though, the simplest, most waste-conscious packaging — from the mailer to the tub or tube — is what warrants our attention and our accolades.

Brands, remember: We’d rather be wowed by a power-house formulation or superb color payoff than by three extra layers of embossed, disposable, luxury packaging. While it’s undoubtedly impressive to unbox a vault (a vault!) of lip liners, snug in their custom, laser-cut casings with pull-out drawers and fancy acrylic containers, it’s time to rethink the extravagant press mailer.

We certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’m confident we can be part of the change. Will you join us? 

This story originally appeared in the April 2021 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.

Read more stories about sustainability in the beauty industry:

Now watch the unboxing of the March Allure Beauty Box:

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