Top 10 CosmeticsDesign articles on sustainability for 2021

By Ravyn Cullor

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainability is top of mind for brands across cosmetics and personal care, and CosmeticsDesign has been here to explore what's going on in that area. © Getty Images -  Hiroshi Watanabe
Sustainability is top of mind for brands across cosmetics and personal care, and CosmeticsDesign has been here to explore what's going on in that area. © Getty Images - Hiroshi Watanabe

Related tags Sustainability Sustainable packaging upcycling Ingredients

Below are the top 10 most read articles on sustainability on CosmeticsDesign this year.

1. How to get water reduction formulation right 

The waterless and water reduction trend is definitely continuing to grow as consumers reach out for products that are both more convenient, particularly for on-the-go, as well as more environmentally friendly.

Cosmetics Design Spoke to Belinda Carli, the director for the Institute of Personal Care Science, to find out more about what kind of technologies are out there to help reach this goal.

To date, much of what is being offered is in the form of highly bar products, providing cleansing, shampoo, conditioning and moisturizing function, but new formulation technology is also focusing on water replacement ingredients, which Belinda discusses in the course of this question and answer interview.


2. Freeze-Dried Beauty: next-gen waterless skincare is here 

More than one K Beauty brand recently launched new products showcasing freeze-dried skincare technology—a likely sign that a new beauty ingredient format is about to get very popular.

While the brands purport to be using patented and exclusive technologies, the basic premise behind freeze-dried skincare is definitely not new. Freeze-dry or Lyophilization technology is commonly used in pharmaceuticals, in the food industry, and has shown up in beauty before too.

For instance, in 2007 a France – based company Lyofal (a division of SynerLab) introduced its freeze-dry tech to the beauty marketplace​.


3. Is clean beauty under attack and what can be done about it?

In recent months a growing body of negative media coverage has served to discredit clean beauty. The honeymoon period is definitely over. In this article CosmeticsDesign-USA (CDU) speaks to Gay Timmons, president of the Natural and Organic Health and Beauty Alliance, to find out why this is happening and what can be done to put the movement back on track.

Clean beauty has evolved on the back of consumer concerns over potentially toxic ingredients in the beauty and personal care products they buy, as well as the impact they many have on the environment. The movement is designed to help the growing band of conscious consumers identify products that are both good for their bodies and the environment.

But confusion over what clean beauty actually means is fueling a growing body of negative, and often inaccurate reporting on the subject that is throwing up a lot of questions. In this interview, Timmons reveals why this is happening, what can be done about it, and what the future might hold for clean beauty.


4. Estée Lauder molecular recycling tech sustainable packaging

In partnership with global specialty materials company Eastman, the beauty maker plans to meet 2025 sustainability goals using recycled and/or recyclable plastic for its luxury cosmetics packaging.

Conventional plastic recycling is a mechanical process. What Eastman specializes in are molecular technologies known as carbon renewal technology (CRT) and polyester renewal technology (PRT). Molecular or advanced recycling processes rely on heat and were conceptualized and developed in the 1960s or 70s.

CRT converts mixed plastics, textiles, and carpets into molecules that can be remade into usable materials. Similarly PRT covers polyester plastics into usable monomers.


5. Paper not Plastic: Tom’s of Maine repackages deodorant

The Colgate-Palmolive subsidiary is taking steps to reduce plastic waste, developing and using plastic packaging that is actually recyclable and opting for alternatives to plastic as well.

In her remarks to the press this month about the personal care product brand’s new paper deodorant packaging, Esi Seng, General Manager at Tom's of Maine spoke for the team, saying, “We are so excited to announce the launch of 100% plastic-free packaging for our Natural Strength Deodorant line.”

“It demonstrates the bold actions we take so people can choose Tom's and help protect planet Earth and create a better world,” ​says Seng, who went on to reinforce the brand’s mission: “Tom's of Maine brings the best of science and best of nature together to develop amazing personal care products designed to take care of you, our communities and our planet.”


6. Zero Waste Mascara innovative indie brand making impossible possible

Shannon Goldberg just launched Izzy Zero Waste Beauty with what may be the most challenging beauty product when it comes to environmental sustainability.

Beauty manufacturers, brands, retailers, and consumers are taking incremental steps toward meaningful collaboration and turning cosmetics and personal care into a fully circular industry.

But the realities of needing to disassemble and rinse used packing, of getting that secondary and primary packaging to a facility that will actually recycle it into useable materials, or of participating in a refill scheme are often less than convenient or, in some cases, truly impossible.


7. Colgate-Palmolive hand soap refill tablets US personal care market

This week, the multinational consumer goods company launched its Softsoap Foaming Tablet Starter Kits and Refill Kits. The aluminum bottles and solid product refills are helping Colgate-Palmolive meet its 2025 sustainability goals.

“The launch of Softsoap Foaming Tablets is a big step as we work to build a more sustainable, healthier future for all,” ​says Emily Fong Mitchell, General Manager of Personal Care in North America for Colgate-Palmolive, in her remarks to the press.

“Given our reach, we understand the impact of this step on the entire industry. We're excited to be leading this change as the first major CPG brand to offer a refill option in tablet form,” ​says Fong Mitchell, emphasizing that the Softsoap brands is in some 53 million households across North America.


8.  Upcycled Certified available for cosmetics personal care products

This week, the Upcycled Food Association began enrollment for the Upcycled Certified program, giving consumer beauty brands the opportunity to highlight the use of waste-stream ingredients.

“Cutting food waste is the single-most effective thing people can do to address climate change,” ​says Turner Wyatt, CEO and Co-Founder of the Upcycled Food Association (UFA), in the nonprofit’s press release.

“Thanks to the roll-out of this set of clear, uniform standards and protocols, reducing food waste becomes much easier,” ​adds Wyatt, highlighting the fact that, “It's an innovative approach because it's the first consumer product-based solution, making it highly scalable and economically sustainable.”


9. Waste No More: why upcycled ingredients are the compost heap in green beauty’s backyard

As sustainability goals in the cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance industry advance to become circularity initiatives, new and novel raw materials that would have otherwise been waste are showing up in the beauty ingredient marketplace.

With every new packaging material, formulation strategy, and marketing premise there comes a stretch of time devoted to proof of concept and consumer education. This often isn’t the actual beginning of a consumer trend but rather the moment when the balance shifts and the concept in question becomes a trend or a movement.

In the upcycled beauty ingredient space, brands like Le Prunier—launched in 2018—occupy this crucial moment. That brand sells just one skin care product: Plum Beauty Oil ($72 for 30mL less 10% if purchased by subscription).


10. Burt’s Bees announces vision for a circular economy

Today, the Clorox-owned personal care brand announced plans to be Net-Zero-Plastic-to-Nature by 2021 and shared updates on packaging improvements, new product launches, waste elimination initiatives, and smart partnerships—all part of the Burt’s Bees plan for circularity.

“The challenges of the pandemic have only heightened the importance of protecting nature as a resource, for the health of people and all life on Earth,” ​Burt's Bees Senior Director of Sustainability Paula Alexander, points out in today’s media release about the personal care brand’s latest sustainability goals.

“That's why we've chosen to focus on systemic changes across our supply chain while working toward a circular economy—to enable a more connected and stable relationship between people and nature,” ​she says.


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