How Can a Skincare Brand Become More Sustainable?

How Can a Skincare Brand Become More Sustainable?

The beauty industry is worth billions of dollars. Millions of small products are sold daily, and not without a great impact to the environment. 


More and more, people are shopping with the Earth in mind. Green and eco-friendly companies are becoming more popular with consumers, and many people actively seek them out. 


There’s great news for you if you’re looking to level up your brand’s reach while working towards helping the environment. It is easier now than ever to become sustainable. 


Read on to find out steps your skincare brand can take to become more sustainable.

sustainable skincare

What is sustainable packaging?


When people think of sustainable skincare, they imagine cosmetics that are fair-trade, eco-friendly, and made without harsh chemicals or toxins. 


They aren’t wrong: to be a sustainable brand, the product must not harm humans, animals, or the environment. But the packaging that the cosmetics come in are just as important.


Sustainable packaging can come in many forms – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this.

For a package to be sustainable, it must adhere to the age-old slogan: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 

There should be no excess, unnecessary materials used, and what materials are used should be made from recycled products. Lastly, when the product runs out, consumers should be able to recycle the container or any packaging involved. 


Another hallmark of sustainable packaging is for it to be made from organic or biodegradable materials. 

How can packaging be eco-friendly?


Okay, so now you understand what sustainable packaging is – how can brands make it happen themselves? 


There are many eco-friendly packaging decisions that can be made. Let’s take a look at a few of the options. 

PCR Packaging

Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) packaging is the most sustainable form of packaging out there.


Recycled items such as aluminum, cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, or other materials are separated at a recycling facility, bundled together, and then are sold to companies to be made into new products. 


Because they are sold as unmolded bundles, the purchasing company can form them into whatever shape needed. 

sustainable packaging

With PCR packaging, a company is saving recycled items from the landfill and it is giving them a new life with their products. 


PCR packages are more durable than regularly recycled packages as the customer’s disposal process isn’t as important. 


Bamboo packaging is one of the most popular plant-based sources of sustainable, disposable packaging. 


It is cultivated without pesticides or insecticides, so its gathering does not negatively impact the environment. Its quick growth period makes this a popular renewable resource for many packaging, and even home building, needs.

bamboo packaging

Bamboo is a lightweight material that won’t incur high shipping fees, and its sheath adds an extra layer of durability that other natural products don’t have. Another benefit of its durability is that there are many ways to label the packaging. 


A common issue with packaging is that ink used to label the products is toxic or non-recyclable and are not biodegradable. Bamboo packaging can be branded with hot stamping, which is an option that has no extra paper or plastic that later needs to be disposed of.


Many people may not know this, but cornstarch is a viable plastic alternative. 


This biodegradable, recyclable and non-toxic material is great for packaging as it also does not produce large amounts of emissions when produced.


Derived from corn starch or sugarcane, this renewable resource is in great supply. The packaging is made from polylactic acid (PLA), a material that is made from renewable and organic resources.

recyclable skincare

Research published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research showed that this packaging contributes to waste reduction.



This is a common form of packaging for a reason. It’s versatile, recyclable, renewable, and biodegradable.


When compared to single-use plastics, paper offers more sustainability benefits in almost every category.

How to protect the skincare products


Deciding how to package the products is just the first step of designing sustainable packaging.


Many packages are larger than the items they ship, so they fill the empty space, the void, with a material to cushion the product.


Unfortunately for the environment, many of the void-fillers are not sustainable or recyclable options.

skincare packaging

Common void fillers like plastic bubble wraps and air pillows use plastic that is treated as single-use and immediately thrown out. This unsustainable filler is damaging for environment to produce, and it also ends up in landfills when used.


Rather than use cheap-looking plastics, consider switching to a void filler that is paper-based.

Paper-based void filling

Void fillers that are made from recycled papers are corrugated cardboard are an excellent alternative to single-use and disposable plastic options.


They are both lightweight and dense, so they provide comprehensive insulation from damage during shipment.


If that wasn’t enough of a reason to switched to paper-based void filling, this style of filling is also much more aesthetically appealing to the packaging as a whole.

void fillers

As cosmetic and skincare companies aim to deliver both quality and must-have looks, paper-based filling is the way to make its packing that much more appealing.

The importance of labeling


A packages’ labeling is not often thought about, but it is important for sustainability efforts nonetheless.


Sustainable labeling is a must-have for skincare companies, and the good news is that it’s easy to achieve.


There are two factors to think about: the label itself, and the ink used on the label.

sustainable labeling

As cosmetic and skincare companies aim to deliver both quality and must-have looks, paper-based filling is the way to make its packing that much more appealing.


A brand’s label impacts its personality. There are many options to consider, from tags to hangtags to adhesive labels.


Using a sustainable labeling material goes a long way for both brand image and environmental impact. Using a FSC certified paper demonstrates a brand’s commitment to the environment. All FSC paper is made from responsibly sourced wood fiber.

Natural ink

Ink is secretly important to a product’s sustainability.


Many inks are petroleum-based, which is not good for the environment. Petroleum-based inks release a high level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as they dry, which can cause air pollution and contribute to global warming.

That isn’t to mention the dangerous implications for factory workers. If the ink can cause air pollution, think about the conditions inside the factories that use this type of ink. 

natural ink for skincare

Products can’t be sustainable if the environment is being harmed during their production. Natural inks have no such hazards. Soy-based inks are a great alternative for any printing needs.

How to make your brand more sustainable


Making the switch to sustainable packaging may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Skincare and its packaging doesn’t have to be 100% sustainable to make a difference.

Pick a sustainable packaging supplier

If you’re unsure of where to begin, choose a sustainable packaging supplier. Knowledgeable and reliable suppliers will have been doing this for years, and they should understand what will work best for your product.


If they don’t have the know-how to do what you want of them, they may have a partner that does.

Choose recyclable materials

Consider picking PCR materials, or materials that are easy to be recycled or even biodegradable.


Make as many aspects of the packaging as recyclable as possible: use a cardboard box to send it, have a recyclable label and use non-toxic ink. And don’t forget about filling the packaging void with cardboard or paper, or another easily recycled material.

recyclable skincare packaging

Potential downsides to sustainable packaging


Despite its many benefits in the long run, making the switch to sustainable packaging isn’t without its downsides.

Packaging isn’t always uniform

Remember how we said that PCR packaging is great for the environment? Sometimes the materials aren’t perfectly bundled, and the unproperly separated colors make for differences in the packaging.


This can be bad for luxury brands who have strict appearance standards.

It can be difficult to recycle cosmetic packaging

Not only can it be difficult to recycle cosmetic packaging, but it can get expensive.


Due to the nature of skincare and cosmetics and the fact that the ingredients need to remain fresh, sometimes an eco-friendly package will be expensive to produce or difficult to recycle. The steps needed to recycle certain packages can get lengthy, which can increase the cost associated with recycling the product or simply make the product unrecyclable.

Why should you care about becoming more sustainable? 


Creating sustainable products does not mean you have to sacrifice quality, appearance, or profit.


In fact, becoming more sustainable can benefit all three factors mentioned above, and more.

Improves brand reputation

Many buyers are looking to minimize their negative impact on the environment, and they are willing – and want to – spend money on brands that feel the same way.

Sustainable products and packaging send a message about the company’s ethos, and it says that they are trustworthy. What’s better than a company that is committed to taking care of the environment?


Switching to sustainable packaging shows a company’s dedication to global and social awareness. As many individuals are monitoring their effect on the environment, they will seek brands that do the same. People spend their money on causes they care about, and are more willing to spend on brands that align with their values.

vegan skincare

Improves product quality

Renewable, plant based products are better for skincare and for its packaging. The further we are from toxins and harsh chemicals, the better.


Sustainable packaging offers a lower level of toxicity when compared to the more unsustainable options. By using products that aren’t made with pesticides or insecticides, or by using methods that don’t cause large emissions or contribute to global warming, the product becomes better for each user.


Whether it is in the product itself or in the packaging, skincare users don’t want any extra toxicity added to their lives.