*Please note that I am not trying to single out any one particular person in this post. This is not an individual problem, this is a societal problem. We all need to be aware of it and we all need to do better. The above photo was just one I took from google. I googled “PR Unboxing” and this was one of the first photos that came up. Honestly though, there are hundreds of images on google and videos on YouTube just like this.
In recent years, the effects of Fast Fashion on our earth has really come to light. With newscasts, documentary series’, hundreds of youtube videos and books on the subject, we’re becoming an educated society on something that is extremely harmful.
Even so, there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of people on youtube, using their influence to post ‘hauls’ on a daily basis. These hauls showcase clothes that are new and trendy for this season and they’ll likely get worn once(if that) and stay in the back of their massive closet screaming over-consumption from the depths of the untidyness.
We know the issues, we know the environmental impact, and we still do it anyway.
Something that people don’t talk about as often, if at all, however, is fast makeup. And honestly, THIS IS A PROBLEM.
If you walk into any drugstore this time of year, browse the aisles of Sephora or Ulta, Nordstrom or any other store that sells cosmetics, you’re going to be bombarded with ‘Special’ and ‘Limited Edition’ sets and individual pieces of makeup that are ‘only here for the holiday season’. A lot of the products aren’t even new, they’re just packaged together in a ‘Limited Edition Set’. And even if they are limited edition, don’t buy them anyway. What are you going to enjoy them for a couple of months and then never get to buy or see them every again?
Thing is, the exact same thing is going to happen for Valentine’s Day, for Spring Break, for Summer, and so on and so forth. It’s a cycle. Companies release ‘Limited Edition’ makeup at various points throughout the year, convincing consumers to purchase these items because they’re a hot commodity due to their ‘Limited Edition’ status, and what we wind up with is hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of females(and men) around the world with more makeup than could ever possibly used.
The Youtube ‘Beauty Community’ is a perfect example of this. ‘Beauty Gurus’ as they’re reffered to, have entire rooms of their home dedicated to the collection and hoarding of makeup. Makeup they might try once, makeup they’ll never wear, makeup that is still in it’s store protected packaging because they have so damn much they’ll never get to it, makeup they’ve only swatched once and lots and lots and LOTS of makeup that is expired.
Because, that’s right, makeup does expire.
Every time I look at a Beauty Guru’s makeup room, I can’t help but wonder just how much of it has expired.
And please don’t be fooled into thinking that this is just the Beauty Gurus of youtube who have rooms like this. Women and men all over the world have entire rooms dedicated to their makeup collections who you won’t ever see in a youtube video.
It’s a problem.
Why does any one person need 50 eye shadow palettes? Actually, why does any one person need five eye shadow palettes? You only have two eyes. How often are you possibly using all five of them?
Why does any one person need a ‘highlighter collection’? How many highlighters could you possibly put on your face at one time? How many highlighters in that drawer of yours aren’t even being touched but are just being kept for clout, or because it looks pretty to have a collection?
The problem here isn’t just the makeup and it’s not just on the hook of the individual consumers. It’s at the fault of companies as well.
A certain beauty influencer just released a collection of highlighters as a part of her ‘Cosmetic Line’. You might recollect that she’s the same person this year who sold her YouTube audience hairy, moldy, scratchy lipsticks and never refunded people for their purchases. Well, this collection of highlighters she released, there’s 18 highlighters and three brushes all being sold at egregious costs. Just as makeup companies do, she’s released a PR package, sent to all of the richest, most popular beauty gurus (who definitely don’t need anymore highlighters and who absolutely have the money to afford them) to review on their channels and give her HYPE.
The thing that really pisses me off is, this PR package she’s sending out, it’s 90 percent packaging and 10 percent product. Not only that, but it’s filled with glitter and plastic, cardboard and polystyrene. The entire mixture of the package is going to make it difficult, if not impossible, to recycle.
*Tidbit – For those of you who aren’t aware, in order for things to be recycled, they need to be broken down into like pieces. So, for example, pop bottles have to have their caps and labels removed before they can be recycled. They can’t just be thrown into the recycling compactor together as there are three separate materials to a pop bottle. It simply isn’t recyclable unless it’s separated into its components.
Trying to recycle that package, someone would need to painstakingly remove all of the glitter, separate out the plastic from the cardboard, the polystyrene from the ribbons, etc… etc…
Now, this package is just one example of thousands upon thousands of PR packages being sent out, by companies, to these wealthy Youtubers, actresses, actors and people of Influence as a means to try and sway us to buy their products. And all of these packages, they’re problems. Not only are they packages of products that we likely all already have in our makeup collection, but they’re packaged in such a way that I’m lead to believe there’s no chance the materials will get recycled.
Companies are increasingly releasing vast amounts of limited edition products, and products that aren’t labeled as limited edition but that they still don’t intend to sell long term. They’re trying to stay hip, top of the market and on consumers minds at all times. In the process, they’re creating an environmental impact that we just can’t come back from.
A pressed powder alone contains a cotton puff, mirror, plastic casing, metal pan, the makeup and ink. Could it be recycled? Sure. Is it going to take a hell of a lot of work to separate and break down those materials for recycling? Absolutely.
I don’t want to make people feel guilty about purchasing makeup. I love makeup. I love wearing makeup. I just want people to be aware about their makeup purchasing options, so they can make smarter decisions.
So how can you make smarter decisions when purchasing makeup?
- Don’t purchase limited edition products. When you do, you’re supporting a piece of the industry that is wasteful, harmful to the environment and that’s sole purpose is to gain as much money as possible as quickly as possible. Companies are trying to dupe you out of your money.
- Purchase products that are regular staples to the makeup shelves. Something like the Maybelline ‘Fit Me’ concealer has been on makeup shelves around the world for years, is a staple product for anyone’s makeup and comes with minimal packaging.
- Stop purchasing products made by beauty influencers. They’re not interested in the environment. They’re not interested in you. They’re interested in lining their pockets. These products are brought to market in enough of a quantity to make them millions and then are never to be heard of or seen again. I have nothing against the game, nor the hustle, but unless they’re going to start showing their products are being made in an environmentally conscious manner with environmentally conscious packaging then they’re only adding to the problem big cosmetic companies have created.
- Don’t purchase makeup products with egregious packaging. You can tell when you look at the shelves in stores that certain products have way more packaging than necessary. Play by the rule that if the packaging is not necessary for sale, the product isn’t necessary for your use.
- Consider only purchasing one or two of a product. You don’t need five foundations, or eye shadow pallets or lipsticks. If everyone cuts down on their individual consumption, sales might go down overall and the companies might take a hint as to their production schedules.
- If you see something that’s unnecessary or egregious on shelves, tell the company. It’s true, one person’s word to a multi-million dollar company might not have a lot of sway. But, if we all come forward with comments about egregious packaging, unnecessary products or straight up stupid marketing, then maybe the companies will listen.
- Bring up these suggestions to your friends in a positive manner. A lot of times when you talk about things like this with friends, they can take offense to it or feel attacked. I know that it’s not always easy to find the right medium to have these conversations, but they’re important conversations to have. The more we make people aware of the problems with fast makeup, the more of a chance we have to limit it.
- If you are a beauty guru or beauty influencer, stop accepting PR unless the company can prove the package is minimal or recyclable. I know that it sounds crazy, turning down free things. But, do you really need it to start with? Yeah, it might be cool to have but when these PR packages are being sent by companies, they’re a huge part of the problem. Send them a message. Let them know that unless they change their ways, you’re not going to promote, or use, their products.
I really think that it’s time we all start having more conversations about the harm of fast makeup on our environment.
If we can all collectively agree of the harms that fast fashion brings, I bet people could easily see just how harsh the fast makeup industry is on our environment, and our wallets (for that matter).
This is a real problem.
It’s time we started acting like it.