Eco friendly packaging in skin care focuses on whether the packaging is biodegradable, made from recycled materials or is recyclable. This can be a challenge as the products contained within the packaging do need to be kept safe, clean and not interact with the packaging! It should also be noted that in recent years there has been some concern over whether the chemicals in plastic packaging can be harmful to our health. Think BPA and phthalates- these chemicals are thought to be endocrine disrupters and possible carcinogens.
The first type of packaging that I consider eco friendly can be referred to as ‘no-waste’ packaging. Have you ever used a product that once you started to get closer to ‘hitting the pan’ and the container was close to empty- it seems like it was designed to stop your fingers from getting out every last bit? I have even questioned myself if my fingers were larger or more awkward than the average hand! The reality is that some products just make it too difficult to get out the last drops. This is not good for our skin care budget and not good for the environment. Although bottles with pumps can help us measure out the exact amount needed for daily use, it may make sense to either choose products available in jars or open top containers that give you the ability to access the products.
Packaging options that can be recycled include biodegradable paper or cardboard, glass and metal containers. The biodegradable paper may not always be used for skin care products as the nature of cosmetics or products could start to affect the packaging. However they may be used for the boxes and outer packaging of the products. Biodegradable paper is often coated with potato or corn.
Glass and metal containers are fully recyclable. These are wonderful options to look for when it comes to products. The challenge tends to be the pumps. These are usually a combination of plastic with metal springs and of course can be attached to a metal or glass bottle. Metal and glass jars don’t “squeeze” either:)
Those with nickel allergies should be mindful of metal containers - sometimes the product with have traces of the metal in the product over time that can lead to sensitivities.
That being said the use of products made of recycled plastics is becoming more prevalent and tend to be eco friendly or eco aware.
You can see where the challenges are! We have a long long way to go but the key here is understanding the difference between a product that claims to be eco friendly based on the product, one that claims eco friendly based on the packaging and one that claims to be mindful of both. It’s also important to recognize that eco-friendly products are a continuum- it doesn’t stop with the manufacturing. The consumer has to take it to the next step of proper disposal so the cycle can continue.
Sustainable packaging is important as are the products themselves. I know that people love their facial wipes when it comes to makeup removal but wipes are not always friendly to the environment. Many are not biodegradable. When my daughter became YouTube makeup tutorial obsessed two summers ago I remember walking into her room and finding a wastebasket filled with these! I just couldn’t imagine how water, soap and a reusable towel was no longer a thing:) I reviewed the options for her in detail and realized that most were not made with the environment in mind- only convenience.