“The eco solid-bar conditioner left my colour-treated locks surprisingly soft”

The zero-waste beauty products from New Zealand brand Ethique are impressively effective – and a smart liquid-free travel option

Ethique The Guardian conditioner, $18
Ethique The Guardian conditioner, $18

I am more aware than ever about the amount of plastic packaging that is part and parcel of my beauty regime. I’m guilty of racking up non-recyclable pots that contain little more of a tablespoon of my unguent of choice. I’ve dabbled with virtuosity over my innate vanity, and while using eco-minded products may feel good on the inside, the effects on the outside, I’ve often found, aren’t as I desire.  

The New Zealand line of eco beauty products ranges from moisturiser and body cream to shampoo
The New Zealand line of eco beauty products ranges from moisturiser and body cream to shampoo
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So when I recently came across Ethique, which bills itself as the world’s first zero-waste beauty brand, I was intrigued enough to try out a sample pack but I was not convinced that the product range – from face moisturiser and body cream to shampoo, conditioner and deodorant, all in the form of solid soap-like bars in compostable card packaging – would measure up. I was wrong. The paraben-free, vegan products are truly terrifically good. I was especially surprised by the haircare. As someone who enjoys a good sodium lauryl sulphate-induced foam when they wash their hair, I found that the Frizz Wrangler shampoo ($15.50) created a pleasing lather and, paired with the dramatically named The Guardian conditioner ($18), left my mass of colour-treated blonde locks impressively soft and shiny. I am buying a 110g bar of each to take on holiday: no liquid means no stress when boarding a flight, and no spills.  

Ethique Bliss Bar cleanser, $18.50
Ethique Bliss Bar cleanser, $18.50
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The concentrated ingredients also mean that the bars last up to five times longer than their traditional bottled counterparts, according to Ethique’s New Zealand-based founder, biochemist Brianne West, who estimates her business has saved over 3.3m plastic bottles from production since launching in 2012. So could I commit to a plastic-free regime? I liked the Bliss Bar cleanser ($18.50), which was a treat for my dry skin, but would it replace my faithful Bharti Vyas ayurvedic skincare? Certainly when travelling I would be more than happy with Ethique. I was less convinced by the Lavender and Vanilla Glow deodorant ($17.50), but then natural deodorants are notoriously hard to formulate. As for my eco conundrum over transportation from New Zealand to the UK, Ethique is a certified climate-friendly business that is offsetting carbon emissions by supporting sustainable forestry.

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