[Mitigation] Pollution from Beauty Products : Sustainable Beauty Routine

Having followed our posts over the past week, ‘lowkey‘ conscious of the various beauty products you have been using? I hope you are not actively trying to avoid dolling yourself up just because of what we mentioned because… There are ways to look pretty and be environmental-friendly at the same time! You can do so by establishing a sustainable beauty routine.

But what is sustainable beauty? Sustainable beauty is about adopting eco-friendly choices and purchases for our beauty routines. As such, you should look towards supporting ethical and sustainable beauty brands who that pride themselves in sustainable products. With increased environmental consciousness, many beauty brands have taken an increased interest to be more environmentally friendly (if they are not already). Some brands that you can explore to turn your beauty routine into one that is eco-friendly and sustainable include MAC, L’Occitane, Kiehl’s, Aveda, The Body Shop, Innisfree, Armani Beauty, Clarins, and Burt’s Bees (Ghura, 2020) – stay pretty while helping Mother Earth stay healthy!


In addition to beauty care products, you could also ‘green’ your beauty routine through the use of reusable items such as reusable cotton pads, makeup remover pads, and cotton swabs. This way, you will avoid throwing out tons of single-use cotton rounds which contributes to environmental pollution. Remember: it takes a lot of water to grow cotton, and even more to turn them into usable products. The reusable options are not only eco-friendly, but it can help you save a bunch of money too (Balsamo, 2020)!

Of course, we do not just stop at purchasing sustainable products. It is a routine sooo, it is an enduring process of being eco-friendly.

What do you do with your empty product containers? Throw it out in the bin? Hold up! Instead of trashing it out in a domestic waste bin, recycle it. Many beauty brands have been actively encouraging container recycling by providing customers with incentives. For instance, at Innisfree’s Play Green Campaign, customers can recycle their used bottles at stores and get rewarded. To date, between 2003 and 2015, a total of 12,524,850 empty bottles have been recycled in Innisfree Korea. Similarly, M.A.C’s Back-2-M.A.C take back program encourages customers to return six empty makeup containers and get a new product in return. The empty containers are then recycled or converted to energy, reducing the amount of packaging that ends up in the landfill.

But what happens in the unfortunate event where your newly bought beauty product is not to your liking and you can’t recycle it since its pretty much unused? Anything but throwing it out. You could consider gifting it away to friend and family, or even donate it! I’m sure most people would not mind receiving a barely used product. This way, not only does it reduce purchases by others, but it would also prevent the products from being wasted.

So, what are you waiting for? Join me on having a sustainable beauty routine today!




Balsamo, L. (2020, October 21). 9 Best Reusable Cotton Rounds to Replace Your Single-Use Wipes. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/g34329071/best-reusable-cotton-rounds/

Ghura, P. (2020, July 6). How to build a sustainable beauty routine. https://www.prestigeonline.com/sg/beauty-wellness/beauty/sustainable-beauty-routine-guide/

















[Mitigation] Pollution from Beauty Products : Alternative Packaging

Pollution from Beauty Products : Packaging

Welcome back to another blog post regarding the pollution in the Beauty Industry! This time, we will touch on the efforts done to mitigate the problem, specifically how brands and corporations deal with packaging pollution. This is tied to our previous blog above titled, Pollution from Beauty Products: Packaging.

Because of all the problems arising from the unsustainability of the packaging used in the beauty industry, there is a dire need for alternatives – seeing as the beauty industry is recession-proof and that the industry is only going to earn more money in the coming years. With the ban on “rinse-off” microbeads in the US, it’s now important to focus on the container. With packaging accounting for approximately 40% of total plastic usage but only 14% being recycled, it is important for us to look at other alternatives to ensure the sustainability of products in the industry (Plastic Oceans, n.d.).

Beauty Brands in the Spotlight

This is where it is important for us to be rational and responsible consumers. For one, it is important for us to still properly recycle the products that we use. However, we also have to mindfully switch and embrace brands that are doing what they can to reduce their pollutive impact. There are a variety of different factors you can look into: You can look for products with recyclable/refillable packaging or alternatives like makeup removal towels. You can also buy from brands that have recycling programs. Here are some brands that we can appreciate for their eco-friendly alternative packaging:

#1: Kevin Murphy

Picture from: Kevin Murphy Website

Australian haircare brand Kevin Murphy evidently ‘closed the loop’ on its plastic consumption by partnering with Pack Tech, a Dutch packaging brand. Kevin Murphy products are entirely packaged in recycled plastic recovered from the oceans. Not only is it made from plastic wastes, but it is also recyclable. Making the switch to Ocean Waste Plastic (OWP) is Kevin Murphy’s way to take the first step in the beauty industry to move towards sustainability.

#2: MAC Cosmetics

Information from MAC Cosmetics Singapore Website

MAC Cosmetics have a recycling program called Back to MAC initiative whereby customers could trade-in 6 MAC lipstick tubes (finished, and to be recycled) and receive one free lipstick in return.
#3: Dove

Picture from: Unilever

In line with Dove’s parent company, Unilever, to become more sustainable, Dove has switched up all of its Dove, Dove Men+Care, and Baby Dove packaging in North America and Europe to 100% recycled plastic bottles at the end of 2019, with plans to expand globally by the end of 2020. This initiative stands to reduce “the use of virgin plastic by more than 20,500 tons per year.”The brand also announced that it is working on plastic-free Beauty Bar single packs and stainless-steel Dove deodorant sticks that will be reusable and refillable.
#4: Ethique Beauty

Picture from Amazon

Ethique Beauty uses recyclable paper packaging, not plastic, for all its products — from shampoos and conditioners to body washes. Since launching in 2012, the company has stopped more than 3.3 million plastic bottles from being made and disposed of into landfills. Additionally, 20% of their annual profit goes to charities focused on the environment.
#5: Āether Beauty

Picture from Aether Beauty

Āether Beauty created the first-ever zero-waste and 100% recyclable eyeshadow palette! After removing the eyeshadow pans, one can throw the palette into the recycling bin.
It is very clear that the beauty industry needs to reform, and the sooner brands like the ones above find success, the sooner we are able to save our oceans and the Earth.

Johnston, I. (2017). Microbeads ban: Government to outlaw microplastics in cosmetic products. The Independent. [online] 21 Jul. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/microbeads-ban-bill-uk-cosmetic-products-government-outlaws-microplastics-a7852346.html.

Plastic Oceans (n.d.). Facts . About Plastic . Help – Plastic Oceans Foundation. [online] Plastic Oceans International. Available at: https://www.plasticoceans.org/the-facts/ [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].


Pollution from Beauty Products : Hairsprays

Following makeup, skincare, and even body care products, you may be wondering what other beauty products are you going to talk about today. Well, its haircare products! Specifically, how the use of hairsprays contributes to indoor air pollution.




For the stylists, hairsprays are arguably indispensable because it not only allows you to keep your nicely styled hair in place all day, it can also help with taming your frizz, add volume to your hair and so on (Petal Fresh, 2019). Given its usefulness, hairsprays are widely used.

Yet, the myriad chemicals present in your little handy spray bottle constitutes chemicals that are not environmentally friendly. For instance, propellants are included since hairsprays are often supplied in an aerosol container. The chemicals used to make propellants include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) (Matthews, n.d.) – which plays a significant role in the formation of smog (Environmental Protection Department, 2019). Therefore, every time we do a spray, we are also releasing polluting chemicals.

As hairsprays are mostly used indoors in households or studios, it contributes to indoor air pollution especially with poor or inadequate ventilation as pollutants can accumulate to harmful levels (EPA, 2020).


Indoor Air Pollution

Wait, what?! There is pollution indoors? Yes, in fact, the average home can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoors (Greer, 2019). Despite so, the awareness on it is low since it is less visible to the human eye. However, what you can’t see doesn’t mean it is not there. Its presence needs to be identified and mitigated. This is because indoor air pollution can have adverse health impacts on dwellers.

Exposure to pollutants can lead to immediate effects such as the irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Persons with pre-existing respiratory problems may also be triggered such as asthma. Other health effects such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer could also be the result of long-term exposure to pollutants (EPA, 2020).

Find out more about indoor air pollution here.

So, what now?

Quickly open up your windows and doors to increase the ventilation of your space!



Environmental Protection Agency. (2020, August 14). Introduction to Indoor Air Quality. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality

Environmental Protection Department. (2019, May 2). Volatile Organic Compounds and Smog. https://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentinhk/air/prob_solutions/vocs_smog.html#point_2

Greer, M. (2019, February 7). 11 Sneaky Causes of Indoor Air Pollution. https://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/causes-indoor-air-pollution/

Matthews, M. (n.d.) What Is Harmful to the Environment That Is Found in Hairsprays? https://homeguides.sfgate.com/harmful-environment-found-hairsprays-78516.html

Petal Fresh. (2019, April 26). Benefits of Using a Hairspray to Style Your Hair https://petalfresh.com/benefits-of-using-a-hairspray-to-style-your-hair/


Pollution from Beauty Products : Feminine Care

What are Feminine Care Products

Menstruation is one of the most natural and healthy parts of life.  In fact, in many cultures, the first period is often celebrated – as having your period for the first time signifies one’s journey to womanhood. In Croatia, a girl celebrating her first period would be treated to drinking her first red wine, meanwhile, in South Africa, a huge party will be thrown and the girl would have to stay inside the house for three days away from children and especially men, while her first period is ongoing (Bisaria, 2018). However, there is a prevalence of menstrual taboos and period shaming that has a massive impact on the products we use and how we dispose of them. This can affect our health, and end up in landfill, on beaches or polluting our oceans for decades.

Feminine care products include sanitary pads, pantyliners, tampons, period panties and menstrual cups. Tampons, in particular, takes longer to degrade than the lifespan of the women who wear it and the average woman will use over 11,000 disposable, one-time-use menstrual products in her reproductive lifetime (Winter, 2019). That is a lot of tampons.

So… what is the significance of this? Why am I talking about feminine care products in this Consupollution Blog?

Environmental Impact of Feminine Care Products

Infographic from Natracare

  1. Feminine care products such as pads, pantyliners and tampons, together with their packaging and individual wrapping generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. They all contain plastic. Pads in specific contain around 90% plastic (WEN, n.d.)!
  2. Approximately 20 billion feminine care products are thrown into the North American landfills annually (Luna Pads, n.d).
  3. According to The Eco Guide, a year’s worth of feminine care product can amount to up to a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents.
  4. Feminine care products can also be found in marine litter. In fact, the European Commission ranks feminine care products as the fifth most common found single-use plastics in the marine environment!
  5. The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm conducted  A Life Cycle Assessment of tampons and found that the largest impact on global warming was caused by the processing of LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene) used in tampon applicators and also in the plastic back-strip of sanitary napkins, requiring high amounts of fossil fuel-generated energy (HA, 2011).

Environmentally friendly alternatives

Hence, it is important for us to venture out and look for environmentally friendlier alternatives to wasteful menstrual products that only pollute the Earth. One such example would be to use reusable sanitary pads that have been getting popular recently because of its eco-sustainability. There’s also a wider array of environmentally-friendly options becoming available. Menstrual cups like the Diva Cup have enjoyed a rise in popularity in part for their economical benefits (one menstrual cup for around £20 will last up to 10 years), but also for the fact they are completely zero-waste. This is because menstrual cups are soft silicone devices that are easily inserted inside the female vagina to collect the menstrual blood. All that has to be done is to pull it out like you would a tampon, wash it, and re-insert. The non-porous silicone means it doesn’t harbour bacteria, making it super safe and completely hygienic.

The Next Step

“Choice is everything,” says Celia Pool, co-founder of DAME, a reusable tampon applicator. “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for women when it comes to menstrual products. There are different needs and requirements, even within one person’s cycle. You might want to wear your cup or pad during your lighter days, and your tampon during times when you are active. Or the other way round.”

Interestingly, currently, only about 5% of women are using reusable menstrual products. As with other single-use consumer products, the shift away from throw-away pads and tampons to reusable alternatives like cups or period-proof underwear won’t happen overnight. Hence, there is an urgent need to innovate and find sustainable and yet practical solutions to feminine hygiene challenges.

However, the problem with period stigma is that it often denies women to deal with the issues around menstrual health and hygiene. Open dialogue and conversation is the first step in changing the way women deal with menstruation and can create awareness around the need to make a switch.

For more information, take a look at this report done by Zero Waste Europe on Reusable and Toxic-Free Menstrual Products:

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Bisaria, A. (2018). 11 First Period Traditions From Around The World That Celebrate A Girl’s Journey Into Womanhood. [online] IndiaTimes. Available at: https://www.indiatimes.com/culture/11-first-period-traditions-from-around-the-world-that-celebrate-a-girl-s-journey-into-womanhood-338129.html [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].

Winter, L. (2019). These are all the incredible ways period brands are reducing their impact on the oceans – and we salute them! [online] Glamour UK. Available at: https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/period-product-waste [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].

Natracare (2018). Turning The Tide On Plastic Period Waste. [online] Natracare. Available at: https://www.natracare.com/blog/turning-the-tide-on-plastic-period-waste/ [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].

WEN (n.d.). Environmenstrual. [online] Wen. Available at: https://www.wen.org.uk/environmenstrual/.

Luna Pads (n.d.). Our Story. [online] Aisle. Available at: http://lunapads.com/learn/why-switch?geoip_country=US.

European Commission (2018). Reducing Marine Litter: action on single use plastics and fishing gear. [online] European Commission. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/circular-economy/pdf/single-use_plastics_impact_assessment.pdf [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].

Ha, T. (2011). Greeniology 2020: greener living today, and in the future, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic.

Zero Waste Europe (2018). Reusable & toxic-free menstrual products. [online] Available at: http://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Reusable-toxic-free-menstrual-products_August-2018.pdf [Accessed 4 Nov. 2020].

Pollution from Beauty Products : Skincare and the plight of Facial Masks

Have you ever received facemasks as souvenirs when a friend or family member comes back from a holiday to South Korea?

I have… every single time.

Facemasks, or more specifically, sheet masks, are extremely popular in Singapore because of the strong Korean Beauty Industry influence it has in Singapore with brands like Etude House and Innisfree. According to Reuters, the face mask market by 2025 will amount to over $11 billion, which is a 10 per cent increase from 2018 (Reuters, 2019). Sheet masks are single-use products – with the packaging and one sheet of mask inside per packet. This means that each time we use one, we are automatically generating waste.

Caroline Jacobs-Graf, Founder of A Little Find (a platform for eco-conscious brands), states: “Sheet masks are always problematic because they have been designed as a single-use item and need to be packed in an outer sleeve that can be difficult to recycle.”

Sheet masks are single-use products – with the packaging and one sheet of mask inside per packet. This means that each time we use one, we are automatically generating waste. While they do work wonders – hydrating and moisturising our face, especially after a long day of working or studying, they do not the same to the environment. As mentioned above, they generate a lot of waste. In one packet: there’s a pouch, the mask itself, as sometimes a plastic sheet lining to keep the mask in shape. Not all of the components are recyclable and biodegradable. That means more wastes end up in our landfills and sometimes, to the ocean.

                    How to put on a Sheet Mask 


More often than not, sheet masks come in a mix of plastic and aluminium packet – both of which are not biodegradable. Once you open the packet, there will be only one sheet of the mask, which is held to shape by a thin plastic film – which is also not biodegradable.

The Mask Itself

Next, the mask itself. Sometimes they’re made from one hundred per cent cotton, which some may think is easily compostable, and in turn, more eco-friendly. However, some may contain small amounts of microbeads that can end up polluting the ocean. In addition, cotton is a very wasteful and non-eco-friendly material as huge amounts of water and chemicals are needed in the production of cotton. Ashlee Piper, an eco-lifestyle expert, notes that a mask’s compostability is highly dependent on what’s in it. In her own research, she’s seen masks made of cotton, jute and/or bamboo, which on their own would be fine to compost. The only caveat is that if they’re soaked in non-organic, non-biodegradable ingredients, composting might not be an option (Brucculieri, 2019). Sheet masks can also be of a synthetic material like nylon, and it cannot be composted as well. Other non-compostable sheet mask materials include microfibre, a synthetic fabric made from petrochemicals and plastic.

What can we do

It is important to note that the everyday consumer probably doesn’t have the time or ability to figure out what each ingredient in their sheet masks is and whether it can be recycled, composted or neither. Hence, brands and the manufacturers should be the one taking the next step to easily provide information to consumers on the ‘life’ of the sheet mask and its components.

Additionally, we as consumers should opt for a more eco-friendly option to reduce the demand for non-eco-friendly sheet masks. One alternative would be clay masks that can come out of a glass bottle or even biodegradable masks. (See below on where to get biodegradable masks in Singapore).

Face masks take just 15 minutes to use yet many of them don’t break down for hundreds of years, or even make their way into the ocean. Let’s all be more mindful of our consumer choices!

Where can you get biodegradable masks in Singapore? 

  1. Innisfree
  2. The Body Shop


Reuters (2019). Skincare and the Beauty Industry. [online] Reuters. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/venture-capital/article?id=56770.

Brucculieri, J. (2019). Are Your Beloved Sheet Masks Killing The Planet? [online] HuffPost. Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sheet-masks-not-environmentally-friendly_l_5c5a033ae4b09293b2092685 [Accessed 3 Nov. 2020].


Pollution from Beauty Products : Sponges

What do you do when you spot a new pimple on your pretty face? If your first instinct is to reach out concealers, we are on our way to becoming makeup besties. For makeup-lovers (me too!), we tend to purchase tons of products from foundation, concealer, setting powder, bronzing kit to eyeshadow palettes, mascaras, lipsticks … well, you name it … because more is more right? However, as we doll ourselves up, we tend to forget that our Mother Earth needs some doll up too! In fact, we are possibly adding more pimples to Mama Earth by polluting the environment, oh no.

While the large amount of fancy packaging involved with makeup products contribute to plastic pollution, there is another thing that exacerbates the pollution problem in our use of makeup — makeup sponges. Yes, those little softies that help us paint our faces with precision.  While it may seem bizarre that makeup sponges contribute to pollution, I assure you it isn’t.

Just look at the lifecycle of the widely-popular and well-loved beautyblender:

The advent of the beautyblender makeup sponge revolutionized the makeup industry and disrupted traditional ways of applying makeup (Lee, 2019). A widely sought after product, this little egg-shaped sponge has quickly earned a spot in the makeup bag of millions with sales hitting $150 million in 2018 alone (“Beautyblender Redefines Consumer Cosmetics Market”, n.d.).

However, the beautyblender, while small, have a (big) negative impact on the environment:

The use of beautyblenders contributes to a growing mass of garbage in landfills given its non-biodegradable nature (CtNkingsNGds, 2016). Although it is a reusable sponge, there is designated shelf life of 3 months (beautyblender, n.d.), following so, a replacement is needed (Lee, 2019). As such, with millions of users throwing out their beautyblenders every quarter, the issue of land pollution is undoubtedly worsened.

Moreover, beautyblenders are made with materials derived from fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals which emit harmful greenhouse gases (Lee, 2019). The mass production of beautyblenders thus contributes to atmospheric pollution as harmful greenhouse gases are released.

So, does this mean we shouldn’t use makeup sponges now? Sobs…

Not really! Because we can always search for eco-friendly alternatives to minimise our damage to the environment while staying pretty.

An eco-friendly recommendation:

  • Sponges designed with EcoFoam® Technology made of 70% plant-based materials by EcoTools



Beautyblender. (n.d.). Embrace Sustainable Makeup And Recycle Your Beautyblender https://beautyblender.com/blogs/beauty-101/sustainable-makeup-recycle-your-beautyblender

“Beautyblender Redefines Consumer Cosmetics Market”. (n.d.). https://www.netsuite.com/portal/customer-testimonials/beauty-blender-beauty.shtml

CtNkingsNGds. (2016). More environmentally friendly [comment].


Lee, N. (2019, December 4). Raw Materials in the Production of a Beautyblender®. Design Life-Cycle. http://www.designlife-cycle.com/beautyblender

Pollution from Beauty Products : Microbeads

You have sure seen a lot about the negative impacts of plastic use, including microplastics, whereby the non-biodegradable nature of plastic and improper disposal raises environmental concerns. Land pollution, water pollution, you name it! BUT, what about this thing called microbeads? Make a guess on what it is.

About microbeads

A subset of microplastics, microbeads are tiny plastic particles <5mm in diameter, spherical or irregularly shaped and multicoloured (Miraj, 2019). Since its introduction in 1972, they have been used in more than 100 personal care products manufactured by industry giants like L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever (Dodds, 2020). Specifically, microbeads can be found in our personal care products such as hand-cleansers, soaps, toothpaste, shaving foam, bubble bath, sunscreen, shampoo, facial scrubs (UNEP, 2015). They are included to serve as an exfoliant, or even to provide a ‘feel-good factor’ for users (Miraj, 2019), with some products containing as much as 300,000 microbeads per unit (Winter, 2019).


While natural exfoliating materials are available such as pumice, oatmeal, apricot or walnut husks, they have mostly been replaced by microbeads made up of polyethylene plastic as it is easier and cheaper to produce (Miraj, 2019). And this is where the problem comes…


Every day, it is estimated that 808 trillion pieces of microbeads are washed down the drain in America and sent to water treatment plants. Here, about 99% of microbeads are extracted and deposited in the sludge, whereas the remaining 1% is bring released directly into waterways (Dodds, 2020). Unfortunately, those in the sludge are not spared from water bodies as the use of sludge as fertilisers often meant that these tiny plastics still end up in our waterways due to run-off.


Environmental problems of microplastics (microbeads)

Microplastic have been reported in every major sea and freshwater bodies.

Their small size makes them bioavailable to thousands of species across nearly all trophic levels, and thus there is a huge potential for microplastics to be ingested by aquatic animals and bioaccumulated via the food chain. Similarly, harmful chemicals or additives added to the plastic, as well as hydrophobic pollutants collected on the surface of these microplastic could also be bioaccumulated and biomagnified (Miraj, 2019) across the food chain, and eventually, reaching humans.

Visualisation of the bioaccumulation & biomagnification of plastics in the food chain


The way forward?

  • National & global scale: Phase out microbeads
  • Local scale: avoid products with microbeads, search for alternative exfoliants that are made with natural ingredients



Dodds, D. (2020, September 13). How makeup pollution endanger the ocean.  Wave Tribe. https://www.wavetribe.com/blogs/eco/how-makeup-pollution-endangers-the-ocean

Miraj, S. S., Parveen, N. & Zedan, H. S. (2019): Plastic microbeads: small yet mighty concerning, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, DOI: 10.1080/09603123.2019.1689233

UNEP. 2015. Plastic in cosmetics. ISBN: 978-92-807-3466-9.p. 33

Winter, L. (2019, June 8). We looked at the effect of plastic on our oceans – and what we discovered will shock you. Glamour. https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/plastic-beauty-products-environment-ocean-impact


Pollution from Beauty Products : Packaging

Have you ever sat through a youtube video or an Instagram post of a Youtube vlogger or social media influencer unboxing a beauty product? All the suspense and frilly decorations that lure us to click checkout on Sephora or Zalora…but let’s look beyond the beautiful product within and what do you see? Unnecessary plastic waste in the form of plastic envelopes, bubble wrap, cellophane, polystyrene, plastic bottles…and the list goes on. Many of these items aren’t recyclable, and most of them will only end up in our oceans.

From the previous post, we know that annually, the beauty industry earns approximately $500 billion dollars (Rai, 2019). With this booming amount, we know that millions and billions of beauty products are being sold each year. These beauty products which include makeup, skincare, body care and more requires elaborate and flexible packaging. More often than not, the packaging material used is plastic. Our favourite beauty products, from shampoo to lipsticks, are poisoning the ocean.

Plastic inside a dead whale found in Philippine shores


This is because what’s left of the product that we do not use, or the product residue, are inevitably washed down drains and the packaging is thrown in the trash, making its way out to sea at astounding rates, as evident from many images of marine life suffering from these consequences. Gentle marine animals like whales are directly being affected by plastic pollutions (Robinson, 2019), and sensitive coral reefs are increasing being bleached because of the same reason (Becatoros, 2017).
The recent occurrences of disturbing images of ocean devastation and marine life suffering have driven many to adopt metal straws and reusable bags… but why are we not ‘greening’ our beauty industry?
The beauty industry’s exact part of the pie of plastic pollution is unknown, but we can only imagine how big the slice is. When we dispose of compacts, containers, and lipstick tubes, we are essentially contributing to the pileup of unrecyclable plastics in landfills. According to Zero Waste Europe, the beauty industry reportedly creates approximately 120 billion units of packaging every year (Diaz, 2019), one of the fastest-growing sectors alongside healthcare, of the nearly one trillion dollar packaging industry (Smithers, n.d.).

Additionally, because of the growth potential of the beauty industry, brands now are increasingly competitive. Hence, they may look into making their packaging as ‘aesthetic’ and attractive as possible to attract potential customers. The beauty industry’s purpose is obviously making things (more specifically, us), prettier anyway – so what more its packaging?

Read more about the beauty industry’s efforts to mitigate this problem here.


Rai, V. (2019, December 28). Unseen 2019: The ugly side of beauty waste. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/unseen-2019-the-ugly-side-of-beauty-waste-11577446070730.html

Robinson, M. (2019). Dead whale found with 40 kilograms of plastic bags in its stomach. [online] CNN. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/18/asia/dead-whale-philippines-40kg-plastic-stomach-intl-scli/index.html [Accessed 2 Nov. 2020].

Becatoros, E. (2017). More than 90 percent of world’s coral reefs will die by 2050. The Independent. [online] 13 Mar. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/environment-90-percent-coral-reefs-die-2050-climate-change-bleaching-pollution-a7626911.html.

Diaz, T. (2019). Everything You Need To Know About Recycling Makeup. [online] www.refinery29.com. Available at: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/how-to-recycle-old-makeup-containers [Accessed 2 Nov. 2020].‌

Smithers (n.d.). Smithers forecasts global flexible packaging market to $269 billion by 2024. [online] Smithers. Available at: https://www.smithers.com/resources/2019/jun/global-packaging-market-to-reach-$269-b-by-2024 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2020].


Pollution from Beauty Products : The Big Picture

The Beauty Industry gains billions in revenue each year – makeup, skincare products, hair care products, body care products and the likes. More often than not, we close one eye to the pollution arising from the beauty industry because we use the products to boost our confidence and take on the world at our best. However, just by doing so, we neglect our environment – the oceans and even the atmosphere. The Beauty Industry impacts the environment as such:

  1. Plastics and other parts in Packaging
  2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in hairspray and perfumes
  3. Excessive use of Palm Oil in cosmetics
  4. Microbeads in body scrubs

and.. the list goes on.

Each year, the growth of the beauty industry in revenue is sky-high. It is even deemed as recession-proof (Reaney, 2012). The beauty industry has steadily grown into a $500 billion dollar business annually and is set to chart an additional 7% expansion to reach an $863 billion dollar valuation in just the next five years (Rai, 2019). Hence, with such growth and potential, the pollution rate of the beauty industry will only continue to rise if we do not do anything about it.

Furthermore, with the prevalence of pop culture and social media, once a famous artist endorses a certain product, many will claw their way to the nearest Sephora and queue long hours to get their hands on the product. This promotes a culture of unnecessary waste.

As a rational and mindful consumer, we have to be conscious of the environment and support brands who are environmentally friendly from the production stage to the packaging stage.

Our next few blog posts will explore these themes in greater detail.


Reaney, P. (2012, July 05). Sales of beauty products get boost from recession. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-beauty-sales-recession/sales-of-beauty-products-get-boost-from-recession-idUSBRE86417C20120705

Rai, V. (2019, December 28). Unseen 2019: The ugly side of beauty waste. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/unseen-2019-the-ugly-side-of-beauty-waste-11577446070730.html