Refillable makeup has been around for some time, but it has gained momentum in recent years as eco-conscious shoppers seek more sustainable options.
In theory, this sounds great. Refillability should allow endless use and prevent significant plastic and other harmful waste from ending up in landfills.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Why?
- - Refillable doesn’t always equate to environmentally friendly.
- - Many “sustainable” beauty products don’t perform as well as traditional products.
- - Zero waste cosmetics packaging is not yet standardized.
- - Consumers (that’s you!) must be willing to buy and use refillable makeup.
So, how can you spot high-quality, genuinely waste-free makeup and do your part to reduce your environmental impact? Start by:
- - Identifying durable, plastic-free refillable packaging
- - Opting for clean, nontoxic ingredients
- - Investing in refills that make the most sense for your beauty routine
Keep reading for more tips and to learn how we achieved zero waste here at Izzy!
Investigate the Packaging
Refillable makeup often uses plastic packaging in both the original container and the refills. This defeats the purpose, as plastic quality quickly degrades once it’s recycled. Plastic refill materials can only be used for so long before they, too, end up in a landfill.
Successful zero waste beauty programs come down to upcycling, or reusing waste to make products of a higher quality or value. Currently, most cosmetics are either recycled (converted into products of similar or equal value) or downcycled (turning waste or materials into something less valuable than the original.
To stop beauty waste on your end, avoid cosmetics with any plastic and instead look for those in stainless steel, aluminum, or glass containers. These materials can have virtually endless life cycles due because they can withstand the upcycling process and be reused long-term.
For example, manufacturers can reuse medical-grade stainless steel components over 10,000 times. And according to the Aluminum Association, nearly 75% of aluminum ever made is still in use today.
Next, check out the brand’s processes—are they actually producing zero waste cosmetics? Consider:
- - Refillable makeup requires regular shipping. What materials and packaging do they use?
- - Pay attention to their production methods. Where and how are they made?
- - The reusable components must be sanitized. Do they use nontoxic substances? What do they do with the water and substances after sanitzation?
Eliminating plastic is the first step. But waste free makeup companies must also account for many other materials and processes between production and the time it arrives on your doorstep!
Check the Ingredients
Check the ingredients to ensure the refillable makeup you purchase is environmentally and socially responsible. Look for clean beauty products free of GMOs, alcohol, oil, parabens, phthalates, silicone, talc, and animal products.
Ideally, opt for products made with plant and food-based ingredients, like nutrient-rich fruit seed extracts and essential oils. This is best for both your own health and safety and that of the planet, as remnants of our cosmetics end up back in the environment one way or another.
Keep an eye out for not just what but where and how a zero waste brand sources their ingredients. Do they use ethical sourcing? Partner with ethical suppliers? Guarantee slave-free manufacturing and cruelty-free formulas? This is all part of the bigger sustainable beauty picture.
Find the Best Refillable Makeup for You
There is no universal refillable makeup packaging or process yet. You may only want to refill and reuse certain cosmetics for so long—many of us enjoy variety when it comes to makeup!
Whether it’s your makeup, skincare, or haircare, choose refills with brands and products you’re loyal to and know you’ll use long-term, like your favorite zero waste mascara or everyday highlighter. Understand the process of the company’s refill program and be willing to stick with it. If you try a refill but get rid of it after just a few uses because you tire of the product or the process, it will simply end up in landfills.
OR…you could always find a zero waste beauty brand that reuses their products even when you return them!
How Izzy Does Refillable Makeup Right
Izzy founder Shannon Goldberg considered how most people purchase and use beauty products in a different light. She saw an opportunity to implement sustainable materials and processes from end to end.
Zero Waste Materials
Our medical-grade stainless steel and direct-to-consumer business model mean each product could have a lifespan of 2,500+ years! Customers receive a prepaid label and reusable shipper made from upcycled materials with no outer packaging. When they use up their item, they simply send it back for a refill or return.
Our components also use 94% less plastic than traditional makeup. The minimal plastic we do use is made from POM ECO-B, a plant-based resin. Izzy regrounds and recycles these pieces into new wands and applicators at our facility.
As for the lip applicator tips, the only components we can’t reuse or recycle, we donate them to a company that makes cushions for students’ school chairs.
Zero Waste Processes
We ensure sustainability behind the scenes, too. This includes our antibacterial triple-cleansing process—we reuse the water instead of dumping it into the oceans, lakes, or rivers.
Keeping our manufacturing within a 400-mile radius also allows us to maintain the lowest carbon emissions in the industry. Compared to the industry standard, our zero waste cosmetics have a 78% smaller carbon footprint after 25 refills. Best of all, continued reuse continues decreasing our carbon footprint over time!
Zero Waste Shopping
We also considered the challenges of recycling in certain regions. We know that most plastic isn’t recycled anyway—only 9%, in fact!
Izzy developed a simple and easy subscription service so you can get your favorite products refilled regularly. However, you don’t have to subscribe to be sustainable. You can choose a one-time purchase and still send it back when you’re done, knowing you didn’t contribute more waste!
While the beauty industry still has a long way to go, it’s showing promise toward making waste free makeup the norm. And you can help in that progress by supporting reusable makeup brands.
Ready to do your part to minimize your environmental impact while enjoying high-end cosmetics experience? Try our refillable makeup and help stop beauty waste today!