The postman and I have a running joke about the amount of deliveries I receive. We chuckle over the more bizarre ones (labia-shaped cupcakes, anyone?), roll our eyes over the overly-packaged ones (there’s really no need to pack a box of false eyelashes in bubble wrap) and huff and puff over the heavy ones. But being a beauty editor inherently involves receiving all the new product launches from within the beauty industry – which sounds fantastic, until you realise that there’s around 40,000 new product launches every year.
Problems with packaging and delivery aside (although that’s not to say that plastic pollution and the carbon emissions of delivery vans don’t warrant discussion), the endless supply of ‘newness’ within beauty is beginning to come under scrutiny in a similar way that fast fashion has been widely criticised.
After it was revealed that 8 million items of clothing end up in landfill every year, with many of us only wearing each item once, fashion retailers have been encouraged to produce clothing in a more sustainable way, reducing the number of new items and instead, improving the quality of existing goods in an attempt to encourage us to shop less, and therefore, waste less. The slow fashion movement has grown in popularity, with brands such as Birdsong London and Mud Jeans. Now, heads are turning to the beauty industry.
“The skincare category is very crowded and so are retailers’ shelves. To push through and get heard in the noise a brand constantly needs to give the retailer something fresh and new to talk about, otherwise it ends up getting swallowed by constant new entrants into the market. An easy way to do that is to innovate new products,” says Sophie Hinchliffe, founder of sustainable skincare brand, Tandem. “The overload of products and claims in the market combined with cheaper price points also make people think that if something doesn’t work straight away, they should ditch it – however, clinical data on the best active ingredients shows that best results aren’t shown for 6-12 weeks. That, for us, is where the demand for newness in the retail industry creates a sustainability issue.”
It’s for this exact reason that Tandem has launched with a carefully curated range of key products, covering all skincare needs. “Our approach to innovation is driven by quality, not quantity. Rather than splitting out active ingredients across multiple formulations, we believe in combining the best ingredients into a small, manageable range of products which gives you a skincare routine that’s easy to stick to while still meeting all your skin’s needs.”
Tandem isn’t alone in its minimal approach; beauty brands A.D.C. Beauty and Hersheson’s have also whittled down their product offerings to focus on quality over quantity. Hersheson’s Almost Everything Cream is formulated to be a “one-size-fits-all solution to streamline your hair routine,” and while it’s not a shampoo or a hairspray, it’s basically everything in between, providing nourishment, texture and heat protection to hair. Similarly, A.D.P Beauty’s 01 Cream contains fifteen planet-friendly, hyper-active ingredients that offers a high-performance, multi-functional moisturiser able to tighten, even out tone and nourish skin, leaving little need for other creams and serums. As if that wasn’t good enough, A.D.P. Beauty uses recycled coffee cups in the cartons of the 100ml cream, as well as recycled glass for the bottles. “The beauty industry should take a hard look at itself,” says founder Adam De Cruz. “I think some companies have sewn confusion and fear in consumers to sell more. We need to look at the products themselves – do they use great ingredients with proven efficacy? Are they in the right quantities? I really believe less of better is more. It’s better for us, and it’s better for the environment.” Hear, hear.