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woman applying a beauty mask to her face

Taking care of your complexion doesn’t mean you can’t care for our planet too. Too often we prioritise the value of our favourite beauty brands, but at what cost to the planet? Value is important, but now more than ever, a brand’s values can’t be ignored. And with more brands recognising their responsibility, you don’t have to sacrifice your skin ritual to make conscious choices.

1. Look for refill options where hygiene is still #1

Refilling food is simple – take a clean container to your bulk food store and fill! Easy, right. Refilling beauty products takes more consideration and hygiene is essential. Look for brands offering send back packaging options, or, if they offer refills, make sure you can sterilise the bottle you’re refilling.

New Zealand owned and made brand Tailor Skincare offer home compostable refills for some of their high performing skincare products. The refills come in a compostable carton made from bagasse, a sugarcane waste product. The great thing about bagasse over cardboard is that is doesn’t take as much energy to manufacture. The bagasse will break down in your home compost in the same way that fruits and vegetables will.

2. Choose packaging that’s recyclable 

Unfortunately, NZ’s recycling system isn’t perfect, so we have to make sure that we are choosing products with the best possibility of being recycled.

Glass and aluminium can be endlessly recycled and types 1, 2, and 5 plastic are recyclable in NZ. Better yet, choose brands using Post-Consumer Recycled material for their product’s packaging. And what about that excess packaging? Don’t be afraid to let your favourite brands know if you think there’s unnecessary waste.

Essano have been leading the way with clean and natural skincare since they began. Their packaging is recyclable kerbside in many parts of New Zealand, but even better, every single bottle contains at least 25% recycled plastic, reducing the amount of virgin plastic produced. Essano have committed to the 2025 Plastic Packaging Declaration which means that their packaging will be 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

3. Support brands transparent about their sourcing

Does your favourite beauty brand share where they source their ingredients from, and do they guarantee that it’s free of child or slave labour? We should expect brands to care about the wellbeing of their people, but sadly that’s not always the case. If it’s not clear, ask the hard questions.

Hemp Collective grow their own Hemp near Byron Bay in Australia. They make sure that their ingredients are sourced ethically and organically. They understand as a business how integral it is to be responsible about how their products are made. They have a circular and zero-waste focus on every aspect of their supply chain.

4. Waste less with waterless beauty 

Water makes up between 50% and 80% of most of the products in your bathroom. Shipping those products around the world is a drain on the environment - water is heavy! Since most of us have access to water at home, we reckon it makes sense to back brands formulating waterless beauty bars for our skincare and clean beauty routine.

Auckland based Good Cube are passionate about the environment with their award winning 2 in 1 Shampoo Conditioner bars. Each bar provides over 100 washes, saving about 8 regular plastic bottles from being made, and features ingredients unique to New Zealand like harakeke and kawakawa. There’s a bar for every hair type, and they lather beautifully for clean soft hair. Good Cube also offers storage bags made of hemp fibre, a great way to keep your bar dry when it isn’t in use. Even better, for every bar that is sold, they help Sustainable Coastlines remove 1 litre of plastic from the oceans.

5. Back brands that are carbon neutral or carbon positive 

All brands produce carbon as a result of their day-to-day running. Being carbon neutral means they’re supporting the environment by balancing out the amount of carbon produced. If they’re carbon positive, they’re going above and beyond with activities (like tree planting) to draw more carbon from the atmosphere than they produce. Being committed to reducing carbon means the brand cares about reducing greenhouse gases and a reliance on non-renewable resources like petroleum.

Ethique began in 2012 out of total frustration at the amount of waste created by the beauty industry – so much plastic containers for the products in our bathrooms! As well as making excellent waterless beauty products that save the world from plastic, they plant a tree for every order. By May 2021, customers have helped them plant over 200,000 trees and offset over 1100 tonnes of carbon. Ethique offset 120% of their carbon, making them a carbon positive organisation.

6. Choose Mindful Brands

Every ethical business doesn’t just talk about putting their people and the planet first, they’re living and breathing their values. We’ve launched a new ethical way to shop beauty:  Mindful Brands. With Mindful Brands, you can shop brands that share your values. So you can make conscious choices without giving up your skincare or makeup ritual.

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