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You may have noticed that the iconic Sephora Collection lipsticks have undergone a dramatic re-packaging since the beginning of this year. It looks more chic and more stylish, but when you pick it up, you might be surprised that it feels paper-light.

What’s happening here?

Less plastic, more paper for Sephora

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The move to re-house their lipsticks into a new packaging was driven by Sephora’s commitment to become more environmentally friendly with their products. The new packaging was redesigned “in an eco-responsible manner”.

Aside from being ultra-compact, the vibrant and colourful packaging of the Sephora Collection #Lipstories use plant-derived inks, and the mechanism through which the lipstick is able to rotate out of the tube doesn’t use glue or silicone.

The packaging overall uses “less plastic, more paper”, and has a fair bit of recycled materials in its composition. Sephora also used 0% metal in the entire process, which helped to decrease its global CO2 footprint by three times!

You can be beautiful, and environmentally responsible at the same time.

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We particularly welcome this milestone move by such a huge player in the beauty industry like Sephora, and hope that this influences other beauty brands to adopt the same environmentally responsible approach to manufacturing cosmetics.

After all, what good is beauty if it contributes to the destruction of a viable, healthy planet?

Sephora Collection #LIPSTORIES are available at Sephora for SGD13 each.

Eco-conscious efforts could be misunderstood too

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While you may think that recycling anything would always be a good thing, there have been recent examples of how ostensibly eco-responsible efforts have gone awry.

Just last month, fans started tweeting videos and photos to top YouTube beauty guru Tati Westbrook, showing them removing the velvet packaging on the highly popular Urban Decay Velvetizer powder.

Underneath, they found that the jar was printed with the name of an old product: the Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder.

Tati immediately tried it out for herself in a video, and found the same results: the newly bought jar was printed with the name of an old and long discontinued Urban Decay product.

Many YouTubers have since attempted to do their own investigation into the drama, and Urban Decay responded in a statement to one of them.

“In an effort to reduce waste, Urban Decay has made it a priority to repurpose surplus unused components for new product innovations,” said Urban Decay in their statement to Kennedy. “As the Naked Skin Finishing Powder was discontinued, we utilized excess inventory or the product jar to package the newly launched Velvetizer translucent powder.

“While similar in consistency, that’s where the similarities end. One is translucent while the other is pigmented, and the two products have very different formulas.”

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Source: Tati/YouTube

So it’s quite certain that Urban Decay did not re-use old product, nor did they recycle the formulation of the Naked Skin setting powder. However, in not declaring their intentions, however environmentally responsible, from the start and only releasing a statement after a drama has broken out, it could have done damage to the brand’s standing with beauty junkies.

Urban Decay The Velvetizier Translucent Powder retails for SGD50 in Sephora and Urban Decay stores.

Brands with eco-responsible campaigns

1. Innisfree

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With all their emphasis on lush greenery and the pristine, clean environments of Jeju whence they have gotten much of their nourishing skincare ingredients from, you can bet that Innisfree is doing all they can to keep it that way.

Eco-responsibility is so important to them that it’s even incorporated into their overall brand logo in various symbols, representing their commitment to use eco-friendly packaging and only the purest ingredients.

Innisfree made a Green Promise in 2014, where they have affirmed their commitment to reducing carbon emissions, using at least 70% natural ingredients in skincare, and returning 1% of their annual profit to their neighbours.

Since 2010, Innisfree has been holding the Eco-Handkerchief Campaign annually in an effort to help reduce wastage of paper and deforestation.

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Innisfree Eco-Handkerchief Campaign

Instead of using and wasting paper towels, tissues, and serviettes, Innisfree recommends using an Eco-Handkerchief for various purposes, such as drying the condensation on a glass of beverage, using it as a gift wrapper, or even as an accessory by being tied around the wrist.

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Innisfree Bottle Recycling Campaign

They also have a Bottle-Recycling Campaign, in which members can get rewarded if they bring their empty Innisfree bottles to the store. From 2003 to 2015, a total of over 12.5 million empty bottles were collected in Korea alone.

The best-selling Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum retails for SGD36 in Innisfree stores islandwide, and is also available on Althea.

2. L’Occitane

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Since 2016, L’Occitane has made a firm commitment to ensuring that every stage of their manufacturing process is conducted in an environmentally responsible manner.

They have entered into a three-year partnership with the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) to do their part in preserving and protecting biodiversity throughout the life cycle of their products.

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Since then, 90% of their new products contain 90% natural ingredients, and from 2010 to 2016, they have boasted a 14% reduction of their carbon footprints.

In 2004, the L’Occitane Group also established the first large-scale organic immortelle plantation in Corsica, France. The project was lauded by the French Minister for Ecology in 2013.

If you’re a fan of their hair care products and shower gels, you’d also be happy to find that, unlike many big-name beauty brands, L’Occitane does offer Eco-Refills to help you get more of your favourite product with 80% less plastic.

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The L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil retails for SGD62 at L’Occitane stores islandwide and on their website.

3. Neal’s Yard Remedies

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This English brand not only prides itself on its products that are rooted in the healing properties of essential oils, but also on its environmental ethics as a company.

Established in 1981 in Covent Garden, London, Neal’s Yard Remedies have since gone from strength to strength. They even have a physical store open in Singapore too!

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Aligning themselves with the United Nations’s Sustainability Development Goals, Neal’s Yard Remedies aims to become a Net Positive business, where companies put back more into society, the environment, and the global economy than it takes.

Neal’s Yard Remedies has been recognised as an ethically accredited company by the Ethical Company Organisation, and even ranks highly on the ethical skincare index that the website provides.

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Olive leaves sold by Neal’s Yard Remedies

They are also CarbonNeutral since 2008, having reduced their carbon emissions by 19% since 2008, and they aim for a 87% reduction by 2050. Their products are also manufactured in an eco factory in Dorset, and aim to switch their US-based factory to renewable energy as soon as it is available.

Neal’s Yard Remedies is so committed to helping the environment in every way possible that the list of their contribution goes on and on. See here for more details.

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The Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Intense Lift Serum retails for SGD268 at the Neal’s Yard Remedies stores in Takashimaya and Raffles Place.

4. Lush

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Source: Luxreview

It’s not hard to see why Lush earns a spot on this list. When you walk in to their stores, you might be surprised by how most of their products aren’t packaged at all!

In an effort to reduce waste, the company does not package their soap bars, Bath Bombs, and massage bars in anything. The products stand completely naked on the shelf, and will generally stay that way until you get home and start using them.

Lush has set themselves a goal to be zero-waste company-wide in North America. Before the products reach the consumers, they are packaged in 100% biodegradable plastic bags, recycled paper and/or biodegradable filler, and eco-friendly packing tape.

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Source: MTV UK

If packaging cannot be eliminated, they source for the most environmentally responsible alternative. For example, Lush pots and bottles containing liquids are BPA-free and are made of 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic.

Of course, stores will also bag your purchase in 100% post-consumer recycled paper which is compostable.

Lush was featured in 2010 on The Ecologist, a magazine concerned about the environmental agenda, where its founder Mark Constantine talked about how environmental principles had guided the establishment of Lush since its inception in the mid-90s.

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The Lush Raspberry Milkshake Soap retails for SGD19 at Lush stores islandwide and on its website.

What can we do as beauty junkies

If you’re a self-proclaimed beauty junkie, you should be pretty familiar with how much materials you’re wasting with every purchase.

Even without looking at the company’s manufacturing processes, there are a ton of ways that our beauty shopping habits are hurting the environment.

The moment you come home from the store, you typically immediately discard the cardboard box that your newly purchased product comes in. For most skincare and makeup products, we find ourselves almost never finishing the entire thing before we throw them away and buy new products.

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Source: The Odyssey

So what can we do to be more environmentally responsible ourselves?

  • Look out for eco-friendly packaging: No, we’re not asking you to Google intensively about every company’s background and ethics before you make any purchase in-store. It’s a simple move switching from plastic tubes and bottles to more eco-friendly materials like glass or cardboard, as with Sephora Collection’s new #Lipstories. You can even reuse these containers to store other products, which not only saves the Earth, but your wallet as well.
  • Say “no” to the impulsive shopper in you: All of us beauty junkies are, on some level, impulsive shoppers. To test yourself, just walk into the beauty aisles of store, and you’ll get what we mean. Being environmentally responsible means also consuming only what we need, and less overall. If your jar of night cream isn’t anywhere near finishing, don’t buy an extra one yet “for back-up”.
  • Go for quality: Whether a price tag is low or high, invest in a good-quality beauty product that you can be fairly confident would work well for your skin. Scrimping and saving will only increase your wastage, since you’d be throwing away disappointing unfinished products.
  • Believe the ingredients label, not the marketing fluff: All too often, you’d be barraged with a whole lot of marketing messages from various companies proclaiming how “natural”, “organic”, “no-nasties”, and “eco-friendly” they are. There is a real chance that they may be, but to verify that, check out the ingredients label. If it’s short, simple, and with minimal scary-sounding chemicals in it, it’s probably more worth your time. If it’s super long and packed with chemicals instead of natural extracts, then you might want to re-think your purchase. Check out this wallet-sized guide from the David Suzuki Foundation on ingredients to avoid, so you can be informed anywhere.

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You might notice that many of these tips not only help you make eco-conscious decisions while still staying beautiful, they also really work miracles on your wallet. It’s super satisfying to know that we are not only being responsible for our environment and our planet, it gives us practical benefits too!