The Plastics Problem: A Pressing Issue for the Beauty Industry that Requires a Long-Term Solution

This is a series of 5 blog posts covering the following topics:


Packaging is everywhere. We've created such a strong dependency on it, it’s now fundamental to our modern lifestyle. Protecting, preserving, marketing… its advantages are endless. Though prolonging the shelf life of products is possible one of the most significant ones, as it has significantly contributed to reducing waste over the years.

With #shelfies and detailed skincare and beauty routines prominent on social media, forums and YouTube videos, pretty packaging is synonymous with luxury and self-care—and it’s not unusual for consumers to buy products based solely on packaging. (source)

Nevertheless, plastic packaging has developed a bad reputation when it comes to its environmental impact. The media floods us with images of once beautiful beaches, now resembling landfills, and vulnerable ocean animals dying after swallowing plastic packaging.

As a response to this media pressure and demand from consumers, some brands are turning their efforts to creating more sustainable packaging alternatives - refillable, plastic-free or naked packaging are becoming more popular.

When I first started doing research for this series of articles on sustainability, my premise was rather simple “plastic packaging is unsustainable”, “many plastic-free packaging alternatives have been developed” therefore “the solution is to stop using plastics”. The reality? It’s complicated.

Phasing out plastics entirely and developing effective and sustainable packaging alternatives is a massive issue that requires systematic, holistic thinking and united action from consumers, brands and regulators, to ensure that we don’t shift the burden to other areas like taking a toll on non-renewable resources, increasing waste and worsening greenhouse emissions.


So what’s the answer? Developing new sustainable materials doesn’t necessarily address the underlying problem: our throwaway culture. We need to adopt a radically different model of production and consumption. This can be achieved by moving from a linear to a circular economy, where reduction, reuse and recycling of elements prevails, and by adopting a ‘zero-waste’ mindset.

Find out how you can help as a beauty consumer without giving up the clean, effective products that you already love and trust.


Choose Ao Skincare

Better for you skin. Better for the planet.

Here at Ao, we take sustainability seriously. Protecting your skin health and the environment has been at the core of our values since day one. Read on to find out some of the key things we are doing to protect our planet. We’d love to hear what you’re doing! Tell us in the comments or reach out to us on Instagram or Facebook.

  • At Ao, we source the majority of our pristine ingredients locally, from the remote New Zealand wilderness, and partner with EWG and Credo Beauty to assure you that our ingredients meet the strictest standards for your health.
  • We follow gold standard practices through every step of our supply chain. Our formulas are manufactured using an innovative and environmentally-friendly method known as cold processing, which not only preserves the integrity and potency of our delicate active ingredients but also significantly reduces resource consumption during manufacturing - in particular energy and time. Most traditional methods rely on heating and cooling processes that account for over 90% of the total energy costs for the production of an emulsion.
  • Our outer packaging is made out of FSC Certified recycled cardboard. We use an innovative glueless design in which boxes are held shut employing either tension or a locking mechanism. Additionally, we use no gloss or laminas during printing, to ensure that the cardboard remains 100% recyclable.
  • Our shipping processes are plastic-free. We use recycled paper shipping envelopes or bags, and no bubble wrap, polystyrene or plastic wrapping around shipping pallets.
  • Our airless pump tubes and containers can sent back to us (free of charge) to be recycled through TerraCycle Beauty Products Zero Waste Boxes™.
  • We periodically revisit our product packaging to improve our environmental impact and reduce unnecessary waste and resource consumption. Currently, we are working on a Full Airless Recycling Program (currently no other brands we know offer this), and a Reusable Program (refills). Stay tuned for more, either by signing up to our newsletter, or following us on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Our ultimate goal is to develop a fully biodegradable airless container solution.


    Sources: Guidelines on Stability of Cosmetic Products, published by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) in 2004



    "Skincare science needs to be on the very edge of social change and evolution in order to succeed."

    Dr. Mark Gray