The cosmetics industry is accountable for around 30-40% of all landfill waste. These beauty and skincare brands have stepped up to address this plastic waste, with gorgeous refillable containers you'll want to use over and over again.
Recent research has revealed that 8 million tonnes of plastic are currently being dumped in our ocean every year, and the cosmetics industry is accountable for around 30-40% of all landfill waste.
The majority of the world’s plastics do not get recycled— in fact, only about 9% gets recycled and 12% gets incinerated. Often the plastic packaging of beauty and skincare products cannot be recycled due to mixed-use plastics—as well as other components like caps, adhesive labels and pumps —which are hard to extract from one another at a recycling plant.
But in the last few years a number of brands have stepped in to address this unnecessary plastic waste in cosmetics with circular programmes like Loop, and refillable luxe packaging and containers that you’ll want to use again and again. At the same time they combat the ‘buy and throw away’ mentality that has come to define consumer culture.
Refillables aren’t revolutionary—milk bottles, lipsticks, perfumes etc used to be refillable once upon a time — but over the decades it has fallen out of practice in favour of the convenience of disposable plastic. According to United Nations Environment, since its mass production in the 1950s, 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic has been produced—the vast majority ending up in landfills and in our natural environment where they take over 400 years to degrade.
Although refillable products tend to cost more at the outset, subsequent refills are less expensive, and of course you are helping to keep more plastic out of landfills. It’s by no means a perfect solution—there is still shipping, other packaging (boxes, cardboard etc), and the cleaning of bottles to consider— but it’s a better option than contributing to the endless amounts of plastic that are smothering our planet.
Here are six luxe, refillable, beauty brands to check out.
Sustainability has been a pillar of Kjaer Weis’ philosophy since its inception. The clean beauty brand offers slick silver refillable cases for a range of its products, including compacts, lipsticks, and mascaras. Their Red Edition cases— an alternative to their iconic silver cases— are also refillable, and made from 100% recyclable and compostable paper.
La Bouche Rouge
French makeup brand La Bouche Rouge set out to address the problem of microplastics and plastics in cosmetics with their microplastic-free lipstick and luxe, plastic-free and reusable lipstick cases. The cases are made of stainless steel and up-cycled leather, and are refillable with separate paper-cased refills. There is even a special vegan leather case, created in collaboration with Stella McCartney, and you can get each refillable case customised with your initials. The brand has expanded to include a full-fledged makeup collection of products with refillable packages, including a mascara that comes in 100% recycled glass container. Products are vegan and cruelty-free.
The green skincare brand recently developed its first refillable product, the Water- Lock Moisturiser which allows for a recyclable refill pod to lock into your airtight Water-Lock Moisturiser jar. The brand also uses soy ink on its labelling, and all of its products are housed in recycled glass jars.
Hourglass Cosmetics is committed to showing that vegan and cruelty-free makeup can be luxurious. They have created the Confession Refillable Lipstick, which comes in a sleek gold applicator designed to be used interchangeably with the entire 40 shade collection of Confession Ultra Slim Lipstick Refills.
Ren Skincare has always featured clean ingredients and integrated sustainability as a core value. In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, in 2018 the brand introduced the Loop zero waste system through Terracycle to create refillables for six of their best selling products, including a body wash and body lotion. Products are encased in glass bottles, as well as infinity plastic bottles – made with plastic than can be recycled infinite times, compared to the standard 10 times.
French luxury brand Hermès has created a range of highly pigmented lipsticks encased in gorgeous refillable containers. The refillable metal lipstick cases feature a chic modern colour block design created by Pierre Hardy and contain no plastic. The lipstick even has a signature scent custom-blended by Christine Nagel, the nose behind Hermès fragrances, with notes of sandalwood, arnica and angelica.
Note: This is not a clean lipstick formula, and those sensitive to perfume should avoid it. There is also no information to suggest these products are vegan or cruelty-free.