We've ditched plastic as an ingredient in cosmetics, but there's no getting around the fact that almost everything we use comes in a plastic container. And if you're like me, you use a lot of beauty products in a year. I put them into the recycling when possible, but I'm a little too skeptical of human nature to believe that every piece of plastic I dispose of gets recycled as much as it could. (A high school boyfriend who worked at a fast-food place confessed that their recycling bins were all dumped into the same dumpster at the end of the night, and I heard on the news the other day of a local council who had been delivering the glass picked up from residents to the dump because they couldn't find a provider to recycle it.)
With all this in mind, when I found out about Ethique, I was pretty excited — and the fact they're from New Zealand is just a bonus. None of Ethique's packaging is plastic, nor is it glass or metal.
All their products — body, hair, and face — are solid, and they come wrapped in paper. While this isn't exactly no packaging, the paper isn't laminated or chemically treated, and it's fully biodegradable. The company recommends putting the paper right in your garden compost!
The advantages of solid products extend beyond packaging. You can travel with them, they don't contain much water, so they need less preservatives, and the product is concentrated, so it lasts longer. They take a bit of getting used to, though. While the Lime and Ginger Body Polish was easy to get my head around (it's like a bar of body soap with in-built scrub), it took me a few uses to manage a solid block of shampoo.
Ethique's philosophy is similar to Lush, except their products don't give me the fragrance headache that Lush's do. I've road-tested the body scrub, In Your Face Cleanser and Wonderbar Conditioner and been satisfied with the results, but it's the solid facial serum and the shampoos that have stood out to me the most.
Solid facial serum sounds oxymoronic but everyone thought those Artis brushes were a weird shape when they launched, too. The Saving Face Serum comes in three little bars, so you don't need to wrangle something too big and unwieldy. This also stops them from getting too unhygienic.
I'm also a big fan of the Sweet & Spicy Shampoo Bar, and that's because it just works. My hair is fickle, and I am naturally skeptical, so I didn't expect it to. Experimentation with alternative hair-washing methods haven't gone well for me in the past, but this one made my hair a) clean, b) not greasy, and c) voluminous without being puffy.
Solid shampoo or conditioner sounds very impractical for keeping in a permanently wet environment like the shower, I know. Ethique are on the case with biodegradable shower containers, made of bamboo and sugarcane. The base of the container has holes like a dish drainer to let the product dry out, and the cover sits on snugly. I can see it getting a little excessive if you switched entirely to solid products and needed a tower of them in your bathroom, but with a couple of products, they work just fine.
- Do you recycle all your beauty packaging?
- What do you think about solid product alternatives?