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.
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.
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.