From sheet masks to shampoo bottles, the beauty industry accounts for a huge amount of plastic pollution. Zero Waste Week recently reported that the global cosmetics industry produces a staggering 120 billion units of packaging every year, and much of this isn't recyclable. But we aren't brushing the facts under the carpet.
According to Flawless.org, as many as 63% of consumers feel guilty for not using eco-friendly cosmetics. Brands like Hourglass have recently got on board with refill schemes in a bid to reduce waste, while Lush has introduced numerous packaging-free products, but an online hub dedicated to shopping different brands with environmental responsibility and sustainability at the forefront has evaded beauty obsessives. Until now. Enter: SUSTbeauty.
The brand new beauty website, which brings together skincare, haircare, body care and makeup, was launched by former beauty buyer, Zahra Broadfield. Her aim is to bring about positive change in an industry that so many people love, but is often incredibly excessive. "Beauty is a category that is responsible for so much waste, from plastic packaging to damaging chemicals," she told R29. "I couldn't find a retailer really leading the conversation around responsible beauty in a way that felt satisfactory to me as a consumer, so I launched one."
SUST boasts Instagrammable brands such as Neighbourhood Botanicals, Evolve and MONTAMONTA, which uses repurposed coffee grounds so that they don't go to waste. Products mirror the prices of the high street and mid luxury brands you might shop at Cult Beauty, Boots or Lookfantastic, for example, dispelling the myth that sustainable beauty will cost you the earth.
What sets the website apart from the aforementioned online beauty retailers, which also offer a range of sustainable, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products? "SUST is really an expression of beauty without compromise and with an appreciation for high standards of efficacy and responsibility that I believe should be the norm," added Zahra. "It's about introducing consumers to a comprehensive edit of products that they can be assured look, feel and do good in equal measure."
The selection and approval process is also pretty unique. "I personally test every product that we sell on the site for smell, texture, efficacy and examining the experience or how it makes me feel," said Zahra. "That's what I'd expect every retailer to be doing. At SUST, we then work with the brand to understand their ethos, how they source their ingredients and what ingredients they include, what packaging they use, as well as if and how they carbon offset their production process and deliveries. It's about how, where and why that product fits with our personal values."
Of course, Zahra doesn't expect you to throw out your existing products and start again (that would be wasteful, too), but she says that the site is a good place to start. "It's clear, honest, fun and even a bit indulgent; all the things we love about beauty," and it's only set to get bigger and better. "I feel there are definitely some categories missing in the current lineup," said Zahra. "Sun care, lip colours and acids to name a few. But picking the right brands is a careful process and we need to make sure we get it right at every stage to adhere to the SUST ethos."
So out of everything currently on site, what does Zahra recommend? "I'm a bit obsessed with the Ere Perez Oatmilk Foundation, £32," she told R29. "The coverage is just perfect for me and gives a really glowing but not greasy finish. I get dry skin, especially in cold weather, so at the moment I'm using Evolve's Hyaluronic Serum, £30, with the Wilder Botanics Night Oil, £45."