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Style Portion Size Skincare Could Be The Latest Way To Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable

20:38  20 july  2021
20:38  20 july  2021 Source:   elleuk.com

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a close up of a bottle: Sachets and pods of portion size skincare used to mean more and more plastic. No more. Now, beauty brands are making monodose skincare the sustainable way, but is it enough? © Getty Images Sachets and pods of portion size skincare used to mean more and more plastic. No more. Now, beauty brands are making monodose skincare the sustainable way, but is it enough? logo: The Ingredients List © . The Ingredients List

By this point in our sustainability journey, the fact that plastic packaging is a major issue for the beauty industry isn't exactly going to leave our jaws slack with shock. For years we've known that the impact plastic packaging production has on the environment is nearing crisis point. As a consequence beauty brands have turned to product innovations including everything from supermarket recycle stations, refillable beauty products and BYO water shower gels. Now, the industry is turning its attention to monodose skincare as a possible sustainable alternative to our not so eco-friendly beauty routines.

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Once a contributing factor to the plastic problem themselves, a new generation of recyclable and biodegradable skincare sachets, pods, capsules and ampoules (small sealed vials) are providing simple to use products that are as good for your face as they are for the planet. That overflowing bathroom cupboard stuffed with bulky plastic packaging and more unused moisturisers than you'd like to admit? Consider it a thing of the past.

'We have seen a noticeable rise in demand for monodosing products at NET-A-PORTER,' says the retailer's Global Beauty Director, Newby Hands. 'For ampoules alone, we have experienced double digit growth on the year, and we have been multiplying our assortment ever since.'

The Packaging Problem

When it comes to improving the sustainable credentials of our beauty routines, it's a two-pronged issue. More often than not the packaging our go-to beauty products arrive in isn't recyclable, leaving us with no choice but to leave it to finish its journey at a landfill. And when the packaging is recyclable? Although we might have good intentions, it's rare that we actually recycle our empty shampoo bottles or finished hair mask tubs. 'We know that about 56% of Brits don’t recycle bathroom waste, often because it’s inconvenient to do so or the packaging is not even designed for recycling,' says WO Skincare Founder Karen Lee-Thompson.

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Which is where WO's portion size doses of serum come in. 'By having simple, recyclable materials with minimum decoration, our monodoses make the recycling process easier and cleaner,' Lee-Thompson explains. 'We’ve used a combination of up to 80% recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, that now lives on as a small beauty vial (all Power TonIQ™ & Daily Base™ Revive Oil). As it is PET, which is widely accepted at recycling stations, it can continue to be recycled, and so the beauty cycle continues.'

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Single-dose skincare that ensures we use exactly the right amount of serum (how much is a pea sized blob anyway?), reduces the clutter in our bathroom cupboard and is easily recycled? Sounds like a win, win, win right? Well, almost.

Although there are a handful of brands bringing the sustainable skincare sachet into 2021, the rest of the sachet world isn't exactly pulling its weight. In fact, single-use sachets by their very definition can be problematic when it comes to being eco-friendly. 'Currently, the beauty industry produces 122 billion sachets per year,' says Paula Chin, Sustainable Materials Specialist At WWF. 'Most sachets are made from complex structures which can’t be easily separated, which makes them hard to recycle even when put through the most sophisticated recycling facilities. Given they’re also usually small in size, they aren’t easily detected by sorting systems, so are generally lost from the system altogether.'

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But, being eco-friendly doesn't just mean reducing plastic, but also minimising our carbon footprint, use of resources and pollution which is something that WO Skincare has also considered. 'Because our packaging is super lightweight, it means our carbon footprint is reduced when we're getting our products from factory to us, from us to your doorstep, and for you to carry around,' explains Lee-Thompson. Additionally, biodegradable monodose skincare options like Elizabeth Arden's now iconic ceramide capsules provide a dissolvable alternative to plastic entirely. The perfect solution, right? Again, not quite.

'Biodegradable/compostable packaging often requires specific and controlled conditions to facilitate the breakdown of these materials e.g. industrial composting,' cautions Chin. 'Although dissolvable packaging may seem like a positive alternative, the reality is that the production of this type of packaging comes with its own impacts; in dissolving these materials, all the embedded energy and all the natural resources that have gone into producing the packaging literally goes down the drain.'

Better On The Inside

Aside from the possible eco benefits, monodose skincare is actually kind of ideal for your face as well. A perfectly measured dose of your go-to serum or moisturiser means you get an expertly prescribed portion minus the possible waste of using way too much (or simply knocking the bottle over...). 'From a skincare point of view there are a number of pros to these products,' says Founder and CEO of SKNDOCTOR, Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe. 'They are great from a hygiene and preservation perspective as unlike larger sized serums or products they won't be exposed to the air and germs as often, minimising oxidation too.'

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Why should we worry about oxidation? In short, air is your active skincare's worst enemy. Once that swanky Vitamin C serum you splashed out on is exposed to the air for too long, it simply isn't going to do anything. An issue sealed pods or capsules don't have to worry about. 'We are all fans of active ingredients such as retinols, vitamins, and antioxidants because they are so essential to great skin, and the airtight packaging ensures ingredients are stable and so have their full potency, plus it limits the need for other "fillers" to protect these actives and the product when used in a classic jar,' adds Hands.

Better yet, you can mix and match your chosen monodose depending on your skin's changing needs. Monday might be a hyaluronic acid hit, Tuesday evening could call for a retinol pod and Wednesday morning may require a Vitamin C sachet - whatever your skin's demands, you can simply choose from your new buffet of single-dose skincare to suit it. They can even travel with you on holiday (if those ever happen again).

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