Plastic, the word that means “pliable and easily shaped,” synthetically developed in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt while treating cellulose with camphor, represented a new groundbreaking material at its beginnings, triggering chain developments that eventually led to the manufacture of fully synthetic plastic.
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When we look at plastic today, this light-weight, easy-to-be-shaped material that requires minimum resources, we often do so through our fingers. Today plastic holds for us a whole new meaning.
A real push for sustainability and zero waste has become a hit in every industry, including cosmetics; and even though the big corporations still prefer plastic, most of the small incoming artisan brands give clear preference to glass. As such, they appeal to those who understood the long-term impact of this once-revolutionary-material on our environment and health.
Plastic and Our Health
Mark Anthony Browne’s extensive studies of plastic debris seem to suggest their long-term physical and chemical impact on living organisms.
He demonstrated that as plastic disintegrates into smaller pieces, it can be ingested and provide a feasible pathway to transfer attached pollutants and additive chemicals into the living tissue.
Another study published in the Science of the Total Environment further extends the impact of plastic on the health of living organisms; this reported experiment with freshwater species Daphnia Magna exposed to micro-plastics demonstrated a decrease in growth and reproduction rates. Thus, having a direct impact on fertility and development.
How does this happen? Plastic turns slowly into micro- and nano-plastics through slow disintegration, which unfortunately represents an even more significant problem since it can make its way into the living organisms in a never-before comprehended ways, including aerial dispersal via insects.
PLASTIC IN COSMETIC PACKAGING: STATUS QUO
Serums and oil serum packaging
Although there is a considerably wide-range variety in design, colour, and sizes available on the market for companies seeking packaging for their oil serums, the sealing part remains plastic.
“When we were deciding on the packaging before opening our company, we were determined to go zero waste. I spent two and a half months seeking a plastic-free pipette option. We needed an applicator since our precious facial oil was expensive, and we wanted to prevent potential spills. It was very disappointing for me when I found out that even the bamboo pipettes had a plastic lining inside and thus were not more eco-friendly, but rather serving the marketing of the product.” Founder of Phaedra Botanicals
Minimum plastic, however, still plastic, is, therefore, the best serum packaging option now. What you can do is to choose facial oils packaged in a high-quality glass from the European Union where the strict directives press companies to check their raw glass to prevent contamination of the product within. Always select a glass pipette option.
It is also essential to choose dark glass, in case of precious oils to prevent accelerated oxidation of the oil caused by the penetration of sunlight in case of transparent glass (including frosted option). If you want to avoid paying for precious oil that loses its quality before it reaches you, select only oils packaged in high-quality dark glass. You can always contact the company and request further information on their packaging.
Day/Night Creams and body-butters
Glass container with an alum lid is a plastic-free eco-friendly option except for the little round sheets that are inserted inside and lined with plastic. Many companies select this option, following the zero waste beauty. Once again, preference should be given to glass that is dark and prevents oxidation in case of natural ingredients.
The decorative cosmetics industry uses plastic on a large scale. I remember my surprise when I wanted to buy an eye-shadow refill from an unnamed zero-waste cosmetics company, and to my surprise, the refill came in plastic packaging.
Do not be easily played the fool by a bamboo cover. If the content is liquid, there is a plastic sleeve inside the bamboo to prevent the formation of mold. Lipsticks, mascaras, they are mostly packaged in plastic. Similar applies to shampoos and shower gels.
So when you are ready to select your next beauty product, keep in mind that your decision can influence your health, the health of your loved ones, the environment, as well as the effectiveness and purity of the contents of the product you buy.
Do not be afraid to research, ask questions directed to the company you considering buying from and taking your time with your decision.
Written by: Lucie Salome
Photo credits: Jasmin Sessler, Angela Compagnone