It’s Plastic Free Beauty Day. So, what should you look for? Where are the plastics in your cosmetics? And if there are good plastics and bad plastics, which are harmful and which are playing their part to reduce harm? Now is the time for the cosmetic and beauty industry to address its plastic use and for consumers to confront it.
Globally, single use plastic is the biggest issue with the cosmetic and beauty industry creating around 140 billion single-use units of plastic packaging each year.
It’s mostly packaging. Often unnecessary outer packaging which may only be there to afford the brand a larger canvas to sell you the product or to make it look and feel more ‘luxury’.
Every time I look at the vast array of beauty products on the shelves, I am reminded of what an uphill battle this is. All I can do is make responsible choices for Nom Nom and communicate them. Consumers need to fight the fight with their choices.
So what do we do?
At Nom Nom, we use recycled glass for all containers across both ranges with the exception of two. This was for considered reasons – as it is safer in the bathroom, we use PCR (post consumer recycled) PET recyclable plastic bottles for our Baby Bath and in our Mini Set to make it lighter when out and about or travelling. This is easiest of all to recycle and there are no chemical phthalates or bisphenol A (BPA) in PET plastic, so no potential to leach these harmful chemicals.
Our lids are made with recyclable polypropylene and our labels are PPE instead of PVC, which is the most environmentally harmful plastic used for most ordinary labels.
Our environmentally friendly materials are approved by the Soil Association and COSMOS as part of their stringent regulations. They’re sustainable, reducing the need for new plastics to be produced, they reduce global plastic waste and they help to reduce the carbon footprint of our business. They may be more difficult and costly to obtain but it is simply what needs to happen.
Aluminium is often used as an alternative but while it might result in less ocean waste, it also comes with its own cost to the environment. The production of an aluminium can is estimated to release two times as much carbon dioxide into the air as a plastic bottle.
Why not use Plastic Free Beauty Day as an opportunity to look at the cosmetic products you are using. What should you look out for?
The overall sustainability of the brand is important, not just whether they are plastic free. Do they use renewable, organically grown ingredients? What is their overall packaging policy? Is it superfluous? Also look for the recycle symbol and number on packaging; the lower the number the easier to recycle with PET at number 1.
Microplastics: I’m sure you know about the ban on exfoliating microbeads in products such as shower gels and face scrubs that came into effect in the UK in 2017 but the use of plastic in cosmetics goes beyond this.
Check the ingredients labels of most cosmetics products from mascara, lipstick and eyeshadows to hairspray, shower gel or sunscreen, and even baby products and you will find microplastics.
The obvious ones are ‘Polymers’ or ‘Nylon’ and anything beginning with ‘Poly’ or ‘Ethyl’ or ‘Butyl, but any chemical sounding ingredient should give warning. Whereas latin named ingredients are plant based.
On Nom Nom labels you’ll find natural ingredient names such as calendula, jojoba, starflower, camellia seed or almond oil so you know exactly what you are getting.
My blog post Reduce Plastic for Baby gives more suggestions, beyond plastic free beauty day, on how to reduce plastic and protect the planet for future generations.
I have watched natural cosmetics progress so far in the last ten years with beautiful formulations, textures, colours and effects emerging, so I now believe there is no excuse for making purchases which have a detrimental effect. We just need to spread the word and let our choices speak for us, and our planet.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com