Luxury without guilt
An estimated 120 billion units of packaging are produced each year by the cosmetics industry, and only 9 percent of all plastic waste is recycled. In the early 2000s, when makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis became aware of the amount of plastic that she alone was consuming, she was determined to be part of the solution, not the problem. The catch? At the time, “luxury” and “green” didn’t mix. Unhappy with the look of cases made from recycled materials on the market, the entrepreneur took a different approach with her brand, Kjaer Weis, which she launched in 2010. “The challenge was to take a fresh look at what luxury is,” she says. “And what’s typically linked to a high-end experience is that it’s sensorial. We achieved this [by creating] a refillable container, which is meant to be a collector’s item kept forever, like a fine watch. The metal alloy provides the feel, sound, weight and look of a luxury product, while the refills are made of recycled and recyclable paper.” And she’s right: The click you hear when opening and closing the lipstick tube and the foundation compact is worthy of the best ASMR videos.
All that was left for Kjaer Weis to do was find a similar solution for mascara, the containers of which are notoriously complex to recycle because they’re made up of numerous pieces. Last fall, she finally introduced Im-Possible, her first certified-organic volumizing mascara. Its tube is made of aluminum and post-consumer plastic, its brush is made of recycled nylon and its natural ingredients (oils, waxes and butters) provide the same silky texture as silicone, with the advantage of being biodegradable. For the entrepreneur, it’s proof that we can always do better. “Previously, our red packaging paper was recyclable but not biodegradable because the colour wasn’t entirely water-based,” she says. “We insisted, and the manufacturer finally found a way to make it compostable.” Another example is that while designing Im-Possible, Kjaer Weis discovered that a majority of volumizing mascaras include unnecessary space to create a psychological effect of amplitude. By cutting 13 grams of useless plastic per unit without affecting the amount of product it can hold, she eliminated the use of millions of kilograms of plastic per year. “That’s why I preach that it’s important to not suggest that we have it all figured out,” she says. “Sustainability is a continual process of improvement.”
After a combined 20 years in the beauty industry, Canadians Jayme Jenkins and Jessica Stevenson were looking for a way to reduce their environmental footprint. Their “aha” moment came when they saw waterless detergent capsules for laundry and dishes. “It made sense for us to apply the concept to hair products,” says Jenkins. “Shampoos and conditioners contain more than 70 percent water and usually come in single-use plastic containers. Basically, we’re paying to ship heavy bottles that are mostly filled with water...which will be used in the shower!” They launched Everist with the first-ever shampoo and conditioner pastes; the triple-concentrated hair products provide the equivalent of a traditional bottle’s worth of shampoo in a 100-millilitre tube made of aluminum, a material that can be endlessly recycled. The compact, lightweight container is more environmentally friendly to ship, plus it’s convenient to carry in a gym bag or a suitcase. For ease of use and to prevent waste, each tube comes with a key that fits into its end and is turned to squeeze out a centimetre or two of the product, depending on the length of your hair.
“We wanted to help people practise their cleansing ritual in a more environmentally friendly way, as much in terms of packaging as ingredients,” says Stevenson. “The texture of the product and the handling of the tube are much more like what consumers are used to, as opposed to a bar product, for example. The product activates on contact with water to create a rich and creamy lather, providing a sensory experience.”
Every aspect of the business has been scrutinized with the goal of minimizing its impact on the environment. Beyond saving water, all Everist skincare products—including its newest additions, a body wash and a konjac body sponge— are made with biodegradable vegan ingredients. Packaging is made from recycled materials, and the PET-plastic (the most recyclable type of plastic) caps can be returned by mail to the company at its expense as part of its Cap Back program. Everist has also partnered with Climate Neutral to ensure the carbon neutrality of its supply chain, and it’s a member of 1% for the Planet, a non-profit organization that supports environmental causes. “We like to say that our mission is to solve the waste problem in the beauty industry and make your hair and skin look great in the process,” says Jenkins.
1. 2. 3. 1. Everist Waterless Body Wash Concentrate ($28). 2. Everist Waterless Shampoo Concentrate ($28). 3. Everist Waterless Conditioner Concentrate ($28). helloeverist.com
Alisha Gallagher Steve Blanchet Victor Casale
Having a single makeup palette that comprises all your beauty needs is very appealing, but since such palettes are pre-formatted, they’re never exactly what you want—or need. Alisha Gallagher, Steve Blanchet, Béatrice Séguin and Victor Casale, industry vets who contributed to the success of brands like Laura Mercier, Cover FX and M•A•C Cosmetics, saw this opportunity and seized it. Their new project, MOB Beauty, has a flagship product: a 100 percent customizable palette in two sizes that lets you build your own combination of refillable makeup cartridges for eyes, skin, cheeks and lips. “People shouldn’t be continuously paying for single-use containers,” says Séguin. “With this system, consumers buy only the makeup categories and colours they’ll use; they keep the palette case forever and change the makeup when it suits them. When a shade is replaced, the empty case—which is made from more than 50 percent recycled material—can be recycled, and the new product packaging—made from bamboo and recycled paper—is compostable. It’s good for the environment and your wallet, and it helps keep your makeup kit uncluttered.”
Several additional decisions were made to ensure that MOB Beauty’s products are environmentally friendly. All makeup is vegan and made with biodegradable ingredients, compacts are mirrorless so that they are 100 percent recyclable and packaging is made from one single material. (Mixed materials are difficult to recycle.) Beyond all this, the founders had an even greater ambition: to find a solution to the beauty and cosmetics industry’s waste problem. In 2021, they teamed up with Credo Beauty and Hudson’s Bay Company to launch Pact, a non-profit recovery program that collects hard-to-recycle beauty packaging such as small parts, pumps, caps and coloured glass. Empty containers from any brand can be dropped off in a collection bin at any Hudson’s Bay store in Canada or Credo Beauty in the U.S. or mailed in for recycling. “We want to create a new standard of beauty: to innovate while creating a better future,” says Gallagher.
1. 2. 3. 1. MOB Beauty Build a Palette 4+ ($122). 2. MOB Beauty Eyeshadow Refill in M33 ($24). 3. MOB Beauty Build a Palette 6+ ($173). mobbeauty.com
The idea of a minimalist beauty routine is always appealing—it has the potential to save us time and money, help us declutter our bathroom counters and cabinets and reduce our environmental footprint. However, the thought of depriving our skin of something that’s essential to its health? Not so much. “At its core, the skin is an organ that performs the same functions for everyone,” explains Mireille Vega, scientist and founder of V*GAM. “It’s precisely because of its role as a protective shield that its condition varies from one person to another, as it’s impacted by our lifestyle and our environment. But its fundamental needs remain the same.” Assaults on our skin, such as cold weather, UV rays, excessive cleansing and lack of sleep, threaten to strip it of compounds that are essential to its integrity. A good example of this is hyaluronic acid, a molecule created by the skin to retain moisture and feed the “good” bacteria on its surface, which can dissipate and compromise hydration if our skin barrier is weakened.
In this way, V*GAM offers an approach that is both maximalist and minimalist and centred on the skin’s overall health—a cleanser, a serum and a cream contain everything you need to meet all your skin’s needs in a routine that’s as simple as possible. “They contain the ingredients essential for the epidermis and nothing else,” says Vega. “So they’re suitable for everyone but in different doses, depending on the individual, the time of year and where they are in the world. Dry skin lacking lipids will need more cream, which exclusively contains emollients, while dehydrated skin needs more serum, which contains humectants and mineral salts.”
In addition to paring down your skincare routine, V*GAM also limits its environmental impact by manufacturing in Canada and sourcing mostly from local suppliers. All the tubes it uses are made of aluminum, which can be recycled repeatedly, its bottles are made of reusable and recyclable glass and its packaging, while kept to a strict minimum, is made of compostable materials. “Our vision is to provide a simplified and balanced skincare routine,” says Vega. “[This is] as much for the health of our skin as for the health of our planet because the two are inextricably linked.”
1. 1. V*GAM Biotik Elements Facial Cream ($75). 2. V*GAM Biotik Komplements Mineral Serum ($60). 3. V*GAM Pure Artik Facial Cleanser ($35). vgambiome.ca