Let’s face it: the beauty industry has a problem with plastic. Between production of packaging and overconsumption, it’s a reality we need to wake up to. According to awareness campaign Zero Waste Week, the cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging every year, which contributes to the loss of 18 million acres of forest annually. And our reliance on plastics has gotten steadily worse: according to National Geographic, The amount of plastic packaging on U.S. products (not just on personal care items) has increased by over 120 times since 1960—with almost 70 percent of that waste piling up in landfills. While the biggest contributor to this number is food and beverage waste, beauty products have a unique waste problem: they usually use more complicated plastic packaging, like pumps, that are more difficult to recycle. And with an estimated value of $532 billion, the beauty industry is not going anywhere soon. Luckily, more and more beauty lovers are taking notice of environmental issues, and deciding to use their consumer dollars to promote sustainability.
Fran Miller, founder of skincare brand F. Miller, is one businesswoman who is doing her part to combat overconsumption. “More so than ever, we are living in a world of excess,” she says, “My goal with F. Miller has always been to prioritize quality, transparency, and good design to inspire you to want less stuff.” Her minimalist line features a highly edited selection of multi-purpose oils, a balm, and a mist, all in responsibly sourced packaging. “As a brand, it is our responsibility to prioritize ethical, sustainable practices in all areas of our business,” says Miller.
Even though it’s fun to hit “add to cart” on a new product that promises to solve a skincare woe (hello dopamine!), shopping in excess has a negative impact on the environment. And what’s more? Your skin is probably not happy about it either. “Our skin is extremely fragile so an improper technique or overuse of certain ingredients can quickly damage and compromise,” says Miller. “More does not equal better and an over-complicated routine can often lead to skin barrier disruption, breakouts, and conditions like dermatitis and eczema.” One of the best first steps you can take to care for the earth and your face is to edit your #topshelf. “Streamlining your products naturally reduces waste and environmental footprint,” says Miller. “By investing in items that are multi-tasking and multi-functional, you not only declutter your space and simplify your routine but you actively participate in minimizing environmental stress and impact.”
“Ask questions, do your research, and make the effort — every bit truly counts.”
Ready to pare down your skincare? Miller says that you can approach it the same way you would an elimination diet, especially if you have been having any of the aforementioned skin issues. “There are certain essentials you will want to keep — a nourishing cleanser, a restorative oil or moisturizer, a gentle exfoliant,” she says, “Then you can begin to incorporate select products based on your needs or the season such as a hydrating serum and a balancing toner.” And again, similar to figuring out food sensitivities and allergies, finding your skin’s perfect diet won’t happen overnight. “Figuring out what works for one’s specific skin can take time and patience but a simplified routine with nourishing, healing ingredients will always be your best foundational starting point,” she says.
And how else can we make moves to be more sustainable in our choices? Miller has some advice to stick to. “Be mindful with where you put your dollars, and choose to support companies who value standards of social responsibility, environmental sustainability, inclusivity, and transparency,” she says. “Look for responsibly sourced ingredients and packaging that can be easily repurposed, reused, and recycled, or safely disposed of. Ask questions, do your research, and make the effort — every bit truly counts.”