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How 8 Australian beauty brands are championing the slow beauty movement

IMAGE VIA @ALIWHITTLE/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

That feel-good, do-good glow.

Did you grow up in the beauty guru golden years? Because I certainly did.

I modelled my high school morning routine from Bethany Mota’s, I meticulously replicated Zoella’s everyday makeup and I watched endless wildly indulgent makeup collection videos (my favourite was Elle Fowler’s, naturally). It was the era that normalised owning 43 different red lipsticks because there is absolutely a difference between bold red, vibrant red and bright red.

Not only was I prompted to consume more makeup in three years than needed in an entire lifetime, but brand sustainability was left entirely out of my purchasing decisions. A product was simply sold at the Chemist Warehouse or American, which meant I’d add it to the list of items to beg my mum to bring back on her semi-annual trips to the US.


We’ve tried out the latest beauty hacks so you don’t have to. Head to our Beauty section for more. 


Thankfully, like the fashion world, the beauty industry has come into consciousness. We are spoilt for choice with ethical, independent beauty products made right here in Australia – and it’s only getting better. You can recycle your empties, transform your under eyes and find the perfect shade of red lipstick (you probably only need one, let’s be honest), all while being kind to the planet.

I’m in the slow process of sustainably upgrading my entire beauty routine. To find my next ethical purchase, I asked some of Australia’s best sustainable beauty brands to tell us how they’re making a change.

Lisa Raciti, Kind-ly founder


When launching Kind-ly, my goal was always to convert as many people as possible over to using natural deodorant. The focus was firstly on the ingredients – 100 per cent natural, clean, vegan and effective – and also to manufacture in Australia.

Sustainability isn’t an all or nothing approach – it’s a journey and as a small business, you have to be realistic on how much you can achieve in the beginning and just start with what you have available at the time.

For example, our most recent product launch was our 100 per cent Natural Deodorant Wipes. Our initial production run was to test the market, as this was the first and only Australian made and owned 100 per cent natural deodorant wipe on the market. We had to see if the concept was viable before we could further improve.

Due to the limited number of places in Australia capable of manufacturing these wipes, we were restricted in the type of material we could use initially. I would have ideally loved to launch them being able to claim they were fully biodegradable but had to settle for a mix of materials instead.

I am now happy to say that they’re now sourcing and trialling new fully biodegradable material for us, so in the next few months, we hope to switch over.

Elsewhere, all of our product packaging is recyclable – we wrap our website orders using an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap and dispatch our wholesale orders in reused boxes and filler. It might not be perfect, but we’re learning and growing and taking small steps wherever possible to become more sustainable and to live more kindly.

@kind_ly

Sammy Leetham, co-founder of Bear

 

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We built and designed Bear to be a leader in ethical and authentic sustainability for our children and our children’s children. For us, this meant taking initiative with actionable and measurable strategies geared toward positive impact.

As a Certified B Corporation, we have a legally binding fiduciary responsibility to take into account the interests of workers, the community and the environment. In 2021, we are continuing to lead our top 10 per cent B Corporation certification as an authentic and meaningful brand with sound anchors to ethical and sustainable practice.

As standard, all of our products are 100 per cent vegan and contain no animal products or animal by-products of any kind. We do not test our products on animals, nor ask third parties to do so on our behalf.

We have calculated, accounted for and offset our CO₂-e through Carbon Neutral so that our net emissions equal zero by supporting the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor, the first Australian project certified by the Gold Standard.

To support conservation efforts we donate a fixed dollar amount from each product sold to Australian not-for-profits Wildark and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to help protect the biodiversity of our planet.

Our focus remains on working toward fully circular packaging. All of our products are housed in 100 per cent recycled medical-grade amber glass jars and bottles to protect against UV light and eliminate the need for preservatives. We use a natural uncoated Forest Stewardship Council paper stock across all our labels and product boxes. Our innovation, research and engineering resources focus on further improving our packaging to significantly reduce environmental waste impact in 2021.

@bear.ltd

Tina Randello, Alpha-H Chief Commerical Officer


Alpha-H was born on the sunny Gold Coast so respecting and honouring the environment has always been a big part of what drives us. We take an interactive approach to making improvements. Understanding that every decision we make impacts the sustainability of our brand, we take a holistic approach looking at our total footprint through the entire product life cycle.

We use a mix of glass and plastic packaging – with the plastic generated from up to 35 per cent recycled materials. This is an area we would like to keep improving on as PCR technology improves.

At our HQ manufacturing site, we are using solar panels and converting our inorganic waste into high-grade composts, premium soils, soil conditioners and potting mixes. We love this type of innovation that converts waste to value and this is also an area of focus for us.

Finally, our use of clean ingredients, cruelty-free production methods and local sourcing all feed into our sustainability commitment.

@alphahskincare

Natassia Nicolao, Sea Our Beauty Founder & CEO

 

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In support of the UN-declared Water Action Decade, Sea Our Beauty is on a mission to reduce the beauty industry’s water footprint. Water is the most common ingredient included in beauty products – 70 to 95 per cent of products utilise water as an ingredient.

As the first global beauty member of the Water Footprint Network, we create water-responsible beauty and sustainably manage our water footprint. Together, we are leading an independent research project to measure our exact water footprint and implement strategies to ensure it remains minimal.

We choose to omit water, preservatives, fragrances, palm oil, and harsh irritants from our formulations. Our products are always inclusive, vegan, cruelty-free and ethically made in Melbourne with responsible packaging. In partnership with SeaTrees, we help restore, plant, and protect coastal ecosystems with mangrove restoration projects. Each mangrove tree sequesters Carbon Dioxide, creates critical habitats for marine life, and provides sustainable employment for two villages.

All our initiatives reflect our commitment to positively impact you, our community, and our planet.

@seaourbeauty

Emma Lewisham, Founder of Emma Lewisham


We all have to change the way we have been doing things. The current take-make-waste linear model of beauty is not sustainable and we need to bring an end to it, fast. The future of sustainable beauty is circular and carbon positive. It is no longer enough just to sustain – we have to regenerate.

We’re currently mapping the carbon footprints of our products from our first year in business and we’ll publish this for our customers to see. We want to hold ourselves accountable for our emissions and have a clear benchmark to work from. From the start, we have looked to reduce our impact by incorporating things like natural and recycled materials.

Next, we will reduce our impact by becoming 100 per cent circular in the design of our products – we will have 100 per cent refillable products by August 2021. By reusing and refilling products, carbon emissions are reduced by up to 70 per cent. Finally, we will offset what small amount is left – making Emma Lewisham products not just carbon neutral, but carbon positive.

We’re taking ownership for our impacts. In 2020, we launched the Emma Lewisham Beauty Circle Recycling Programme with TerraCycle because we identified the majority of beauty packaging, that is put in local kerbside recycling, ends up in landfills or through the environment.

We have a sustainability strategy available for everyone to read on our website that discusses our current sustainability challenges and identifies our goals for the next two years.

@emmalewisham

Elliot Waldron, Co-Founder of Hunter Lab

 

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Hunter Lab has embarked on our own vital sustainable practices journey. While we have much work to do, as we grow, so does our determination and capability to improve through greater access to resources, networks and information.

As a brand that draws inspiration and function from the power of mother nature, sustainable and ethical ingredient sourcing and a commitment to the environment is priority number one. To us, clean beauty embodies transparency, and that’s our M.O. – we know where and how each natural ingredient is grown, harvested and sourced. We don’t use nasty synthetic filler ingredients in our formulas and we make sure each of our partners shares this ethos too.

Plastic is the thorn in our side. We’re actively searching for ways to reduce our plastic packaging reliance, but currently, its use is necessary to deliver the very best product efficacy, safety and shelf life. We’re hopeful an improved solution to plastic is just around the corner.

Some wins – our product cartons are recyclable and shippers and packers are made from 100 per cent recycled material. As a next step, later this month we’re launching a refill option for two of our highest sellers, which will help reduce our plastic production by 68 per cent for each refill unit, with more to follow.

@hunter.lab

Tara-Lee Mitchell, founder of Mitch


Mitch is proud to be a part of Sustainable Salons Australia, which is a company that sends all of our recycling to private recycling. All of the profits from this go to Ozharvest. We separate plastics, metal, aluminium, glass, paper, chemicals and even hair.

We are also a Davines concept salon. Davines is a cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, carbon-neutral haircare range that has a B-Corp certification. They use recycled plastics and have great initiatives.

This month they have released a duo pack of shampoo and conditioner and a percentage of the profit goes towards the regeneration of the Great Barrier Reef. Here is a link to their sustainability report.

I also know that we can do better. In the future, I’d love to have our own solar panels to provide our power – as we use a lot. I’d also love to introduce a haircare refill system, as we still use too much plastic.

@mitch.studio

Libby Moulden, master stylist at Alchemy Salon

Alchemy is a certified sustainable salon, meaning we have contracted the business that is aptly named Sustainable Salons for the removal of common salon waste. They take all the used plastic, metals, chemicals, hair and more and reuse all of it! Hair is used to soak up oil spills and the longer ponytails are donated to make wigs for children suffering with alopecia. All of the chemical waste is turned back into clean water!

Sustainable Salons is not yet available in regional Victoria, so we lug all of our waste to Melbourne every week so it can be collected by the Sustainable Salons team. We could go on and on about how amazing this service is…  but being a registered Sustainable Salon is only a small part of what we do. Alchemy is also a completely plant-based salon. All of the colours used in the salon and products sold are plant-based and cruelty-free.

Recently, we’ve has also sourced and implemented a new cleaning products system, Zero Co. This company ensures there is zero waste on cleaning product packaging – they provide a refill bag when the product runs out, which is then returned back to the company for refilling… it’s a very exciting concept for our team.

To find out more about how to make your beauty routine more sustainable, head here.

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