Sustainable Skincare Packaging: A Comprehensive Guide

A guide to sustainable skincare packaging, discussing the environmental and ethical benefits, the cost-effective advantages, and 6 types worth exploring.

By Jasmine Cheng, a sustainability blogger at The Gentle Album

Climate change and producing excess waste is a topic of concern for more and more people. In recent years, many beauty companies have been turning towards using eco-friendly packaging as a result. In this article, we’ll be discussing the types of sustainable materials that are good to use in sustainable skincare packaging as well as the importance of using more sustainable materials. Such a simple switch from using more sustainable packaging can make a difference.

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Benefits of Sustainable Skincare Packaging

If you’re a business owner in the skincare industry, opting for eco-friendly cosmetic packaging has many benefits. Additionally, using eco-friendly packaging can help reduce waste and carbon emissions, which contributes to a healthier planet. It also positions your brand as socially responsible and can help improve brand equity. By making the switch, you’ll not only improve your bottom line, but also contribute to a more sustainable future for us all. 

Reduces Environmental Impact:

Sustainable packaging materials minimize the negative impact on the environment compared to traditional packaging options. By using recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable materials, sustainable packaging reduces the consumption of non-renewable resources and decreases waste generation. This also helps reduce waste and carbon emissions, which contributes to a healthier planet.

Consumer Appeal

Using sustainable packaging material shows your commitment to the environment and helps you stand out in a crowded market. Consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. By switching to sustainable materials, you can tap into this market and boost your sales. It also positions your brand as socially responsible and can help improve brand equity. By making the switch, you’ll not only improve your bottom line, but also contribute to a more sustainable future for us all.

Consumer Engagement and Education

Being a brand known for using sustainable skincare packaging allows brands to prove themselves as thought leader in the sustainable skincare space and this can lead to educating consumers about responsible consumption. Additionally, brands can talk more in-depth about the sustainability initiatives they have implemented, and talk about the benefits of sustainable packaging. This also helps build trust between brands and consumers.

Sustainable Skincare Packaging: Shelving with containers of various types, such as jars and boxes.

Cost-Effective Advantages

By using sustainable materials, you can reduce the use of non-renewable resources, save energy and reduce waste, thus lowering the overall production cost of your packaging. Choosing sustainable materials can also lead to increased functionality and durability of your packaging. For example, recycled materials such as paperboard and glass are more durable than their non-recycled counterparts, helping to prevent damage to your products during shipping and handling. This ultimately reduces the need for replacements, saving you money in the long run.

Health and Safety Benefits

Natural materials such as bamboo, glass, and cork are non-toxic and free from harmful chemicals commonly found in plastic containers. This reduces the risk of skin irritation and other conditions caused by toxic exposure. They also have antimicrobial properties that prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, keeping your skincare products fresh and safe for longer periods.

Circular Life Cycle Approach

A circular life cycle approach to sustainable packaging is increasingly popular. This is a process where packaging can be used, reused, and recycled in a closed loop. This focuses on the entire lifecycle of the product, even from the very beginning sourcing raw materials. This process can get even more granular which involves analyzing the amount of energy used to produce the packaging, greenhouse gas emissions, and water consumption. Even though the circular life cycle approach is difficult to achieve, it has many environmental benefits.

One of the best ways companies can adopt a circular life cycle approach is to use refillable packaging. That way, consumers can reuse the same packaging multiple times and prevent the need to produce more waste.

Best Sustainable Skincare Packaging

Glass Jars and Bottles

Glass is a great option for sustainable skincare packaging because it’s made with natural materials and is recyclable. Glass can be recycled endlessly, reducing the need for new production and the associated energy consumption. Glass is also a non-toxic material, and skincare products can stay safe. This is a great material to store creams, moisturizers, serums, and oils. It also gives off a very luxurious feel for consumers which makes them likely to become a repeat customer.

Refillable Containers

Refillable packaging is a great option for skincare packaging because it is the best way to minimize waste. For skincare brands, you can experiment with offering refillable bottles and encourage consumers to bring back the bottle to get refills. This reduces the consumption of single-use packaging. This sustainable packaging method is great for creating a circular life cycle.

Recycled Plastic Packaging

While plastic is generally associated with environmental concerns, using recycled plastic in skincare packaging can help address these issues. Brands are increasingly incorporating post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) or ocean plastic into their packaging materials. This reduces the demand for virgin plastic, conserving fossil fuel resources and diverting plastic waste from landfills and waterways. By choosing skincare products packaged in recycled plastic, consumers can contribute to a more sustainable future and support the circular economy.

Paperboard Tubes and Cartons

Paperboard packaging is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic packaging. It is made from renewable resources such as responsibly sourced wood pulp and is easily recyclable. Paperboard tubes and cartons are commonly used for products like lip balms, solid moisturizers, or face masks. They offer a natural and sustainable aesthetic while providing adequate protection for the products. Look for paperboard packaging that is certified by recognized sustainable forestry programs and printed with eco-friendly inks to further enhance its environmental credentials.

Bamboo Packaging

Bamboo packaging is starting to gain more popularity because it is a highly sustainable material that can quickly regenerate. In fact, it’s one of the fastest-growing plants. Try incorporating bamboo packaging for lids and cosmetic spatulas. Bamboo is also biodegradable and compostable. Many consumers also like the texture of bamboo since it has a very organic appeal.

Metal Tins and Aluminum Packaging

Metal tins and aluminum packaging is a sustainable option for skincare packaging. This material is great for products like butters, balms, and soap bars. Recycling aluminum is more sustainable than producing new aluminum. Additionally, this kind of packaging gives your product a premium feel and it can be easily reused.

What type of packaging is most sustainable?

Dedicing which packaging is most sustainable depends on various factors, including the specific product, its lifecycle, and the availability of materials. However, there are several packaging options that are widely recognized as being highly sustainable.

One of the most sustainable is glass packaging. Glass is considered one of the most sustainable materials due to its recyclability and durability. It can be recycled indefinitely without losing its quality, making it an excellent choice for skincare products. Glass packaging also has the advantage of being non-toxic and impermeable. Refillable packaging is another sustainable option gaining popularity. By allowing consumers to replenish their skincare products without the need for new packaging, refillable containers significantly reduce waste generation. This approach promotes a circular economy and minimizes the reliance on single-use packaging materials.

Recycled plastic packaging is also noteworthy for its sustainability. By utilizing post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) or ocean plastic, brands can reduce the demand for virgin plastic and divert plastic waste from landfills and oceans. This approach contributes to resource conservation and mitigates the environmental impact associated with plastic production.

What brands have eco-friendly packaging?

Lush. Lush is a natural skincare brand that is committed to sustainability and using sustainable packaging choices. They use as little packaging as necessary and opt to use more recycled materials. You can find them using cork instead of plastic as well as using compostable packing peanuts.

Herbivore Botanicals: Herbivore Botanicals makes an effort to use sustainable packaging through the use of glass containers and recyclable packaging materials. They also use soy-based inks in their product labels.

Tata Harper Skincare: Tata Harper Skincare is another brand dedicated to sustainability. They often use glass bottles and jars for their products. They also use soy-based inks and other recycled materials.

Caudalie: Caudalie prioritizes sustainability by utilizing glass bottles and jars for their skincare products. They use eco-design and use recycled and recyclable materials whenever possible. Additionally, they have implemented a recycling program to encourage customers to return empty product containers for proper recycling.

The use of more sustainable skincare packaging is a big step forward to help reduce our environmental impact and encourage more responsible consumption. The packaging materials listed above are just some examples of how brands can incorporate more sustainability into their packaging.

Even though there have been lots of improvements in this space, there is still more to be done. Brands and consumers together can both take an active part to contribute. Brands can make more changes to the types of materials they’re using and consumers can take an active part in purchasing from more brands that have sustainable packaging.

By choosing brands that embrace sustainable packaging practices, consumers can actively contribute to the planet and live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. It’s encouraging to see more brands striving to make a positive impact by incorporating eco-friendly packaging.

Jasmine Cheng smiling, with a vibrant harbour district visible in the background.

About the Author

Jasmine Cheng is a sustainability blogger at The Gentle Album, a blog about sustainable living tips and non toxic product guides. She loves writing and sharing ideas on easy ways to be more sustainable.

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