For a long time, the public has been concerned about various aspects of the cosmetics industry, from the ingredients used to the packaging itself. A personal care routine is unthinkable without these products, but many people suspect that they are still not getting the quality they are paying for.
Materials for making cosmetic packaging vary from glass and aluminum to different classes of plastic. Some brands try to use environmentally friendly materials to motivate recycling and to be part of activities to protect users’ health.
There are brands like this here that dedicate their entire mission to environmental awareness and environmental protection. With that, they directly contribute to the health care of their users. Because of this, even today, you can find quite a few manufacturers of cosmetic packaging that supply smaller brands, contributing to sustainability in production.
And, of course, all these things sound quite worrying, especially if you advocate for organic ingredients and reducing environmental waste. But let’s go back to the problem itself and see what actually worries people and makes them change their views regarding the packaging of the cosmetic products they use:
Plastic packaging: A toxic dilemma
Plastic has long been a material that causes many concerns among cosmetics users. If you look around, you’ll find plenty of non-cosmetic brands struggling to reduce their use of plastic. They produce metal drinking straws, coffee cups, cosmetic packaging, wooden toothbrushes, natural bath loofahs, and many other products that replace low-quality plastic.
We must emphasize that this fear is directed only at certain types of plastic, not at all. In particular, it is about the packaging containing Bisphenol A (BPA), which is associated with hormonal disorders, fertility problems, and even cancerous diseases. It seems that the standards for plastic packaging are improving significantly, as many manufacturers are already careful if their packaging contains this harmful ingredient.
An additional concern is created by microplastics, which are released from a wide variety of plastic waste. These particles pollute the waters in nature, the soil, and even the air. Microplastic particles could also be released in your favorite serum or cream, so the fear of dermal absorption is completely justified.
Of course, the good news is that awareness about microplastics and plastic substances is growing, so this problem is being solved and overcomes every day. But there are also those who do not take the problem seriously and do not pay attention to the plastic packaging they use.
Heavy metals in cosmetic packages
The second biggest concern of cosmetics users is heavy metals used for various purposes in cosmetic packaging. It is believed that when a cosmetic product comes into contact with metal, certain chemical reactions occur that contaminate the contents.
Another aspect is the content of heavy metals in the products, especially makeup because pigments are used. Pigments are often associated with trace metal content, and many people don’t like putting something like that on their faces. These include claims that the deo spray contains traces of aluminum originating from the packaging itself.
In addition, metals can enter the product through components of the packaging itself or when the product is artificially colored in a certain color. It has been proven that when you are exposed to heavy metals for a long time, you may face health problems such as neurological disorders or internal organ damage.
However, we must emphasize that a real revolution is also taking place in the production of metal packaging and that the new safety standards are getting higher and stricter. In fact, on this website, you can find a lot of additional information about environmentally friendly metal packaging, but also from other materials – this proves that the change is happening, and we can thank the increased awareness about the harmfulness of metals for that.
Substances that cause allergic reactions
Have you ever bought a new cosmetic product that, according to the formulation and ingredients, is ideal for you but still gets a certain reaction, be it an allergy or some kind of redness on the skin? Cosmetics manufacturers certainly list the ingredients used in your serum, makeup, shower gel, and even perfume. And, of course, almost all those ingredients are dermatologically tested and safe to be right in your product.
What has not been tested for a long time, nor has anyone regulated it, is the quality of the materials used to produce cosmetic packaging. Of course, different types of metals and plastics have certain chemical characteristics and react with the product in them. These reactions happen very slowly, and users cannot notice them immediately.
Another area of concern is the bleaching of recycled plastics or the disinfection of metal materials. This way, the products come into contact with different chemicals, so maybe that’s the reason you had some kind of skin reaction to the new product.
Of course, certain ingredients in the packaging can cause irritation and redness, so it would be best if you know you are allergic to something to avoid it. But the subject is long and extensive and requires an almost complete restructuring of the cosmetic industry so that a large part of these production habits can be eradicated.
Sustainable alternatives and things we need to know about them
From everything we’ve said so far, you might expect sustainable alternatives to be the best packaging for cosmetic products. However, we can draw these conclusions in multiple ways, as it doesn’t always mean that if something is sustainable and recyclable, it’s good for you.
Biodegradable and compostable materials such as plant polymers and paper packaging are becoming really popular. However, they are not ideal, as degradability exists from the first moment they touch the cosmetic product. This means that the chance of contamination exists even when the packaging is organic and suitable for recycling.
The concept that we like is quality refillable and reusable packaging that you can use for years without getting damaged. That way, you don’t cause additional waste. A problem with this concept is that not all products are available as refillable. Sometimes even what’s available doesn’t meet your quality standards, especially if you have specific care needs.
As you can see, this idea requires continuous innovation because sustainability and cost-effectiveness need to be combined, which is not going well enough with the current production capacity.
Controversies and regulations
Regulations are constantly changing, and the industry must always be innovative. However, the good thing is that there are relatively strict regulations, and each package is also tested to ensure complete safety for the user.
But it can be said that many do not research the packaging enough because the products are consumed, and there is probably not enough time for the packaging to cause direct harm to the user. This short-sightedness has lasted for decades, and now the world is littered with waste from non-recyclable materials. However, implementing these changes poses challenges, requiring the cooperation of manufacturers, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders.
Controversy comes from the fact that even environmentally friendly packaging is not always what is expected of it. There are examples where plastic packaging is just wrapped with paper, thus creating a false illusion that the brand cares about consumers. And, of course, marketing plays a huge role in how we perceive things and how much of our fears are actually real.
In general, it can be said that although harmful packaging exists, today’s standards have reduced the risks to a minimum, which are even non-existent. Of course, it’s justifiable to be distrustful because it wasn’t always like that.
The risks of nanoparticles
Many are most concerned about the content of harmful nanoparticles in cosmetic products, which originate from the packaging. Are these people right to be worried? Certainly, there is strong evidence that nanoparticles penetrate first into the cosmetic product and then into the skin itself.
While research on the safety of nanomaterials is still ongoing, some studies have suggested potential risks, including cellular damage, inflammation, and even systemic toxicity. Regulatory bodies have a lot of work to do in detecting potential hazards, as serious manufacturing standards must be put in place for cosmetics.
In recent years, such a thing has been happening with the European Union’s regulations, where many ingredients that are every day in other markets are prohibited there. All of this affects the reformulation of effective products, as well as makeup, perfumes, and soaps. That is why certain products are available only in some markets, while in others, they are prohibited.
Misleading marketing and so-called “greenwashing”
And, of course, a large part of these concerns that we have listed are the result of marketing. Although you always have reason to be suspicious or not believe what is stated in the declaration, do not forget that many of these things started only because of the aggressive marketing of certain companies.
For example, when a brand pushes organic, natural, and biodegradable ingredients, it creates a false image among consumers that anything that is not organic and natural is harmful. But on the contrary, many of the synthetic ingredients are more tested than the natural ones, and the production takes place under strictly controlled conditions.
Pushing a green agenda, also called greenwashing, is a great idea, but how it is communicated is often wrong. Many companies use buzzwords like “natural,” “organic,” or “green” without substantiating their claims or considering the entire lifecycle of the packaging. And believe us, this is a much bigger problem than it seems to you initially because it is often misleading, and users buy lower-quality products, completely avoiding those that are safe for them.
What are your options as an end-user?
End users are those mostly affected by the controversies in the cosmetic industry. We all want shiny and even tan, skin plump, and all the benefits that come with regular routines. On the other hand, no one wants to affect their health in any way just because some cosmetic product is badly formulated, or the package is controversial.
Surely, everyone should take their time and research all the relevant aspects of cosmetic packages and formulations before making some decisions. Just because something works for you, it doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone. And even the opposite is true.
So, if you aren’t into all-natural and organic, you can use your favorite products and the formulations that fit your skin. But surely, do some research on the packages and try to filter out only the relevant information. It’s surely confusing at the beginning, but once you are into the topic, you’ll easily learn how to recognize quality and safe packages, knowing that you take care of the environment and your own health too.
Our final thoughts
There are many things to say on this topic, and it will never be enough. However, keep in mind that even the facts stated in this text are gathered from different sources and include different points of view, which you may agree with, but it’s perfectly fine if you want to see things from the other side as well.
But the general conclusion is that nowadays, much more attention is paid to the quality of packaging than it used to be. That’s why you should always choose a trusted brand that is proven to take care of its users and does not use manipulative marketing to achieve as many sales as possible.
But if you are still worried about the packaging of your cosmetic products, think about the reusable and repurposable options that are more available to you. Find those products that suit your skin and hair, but also for other parts of the body, and consider what reusable options are available to you.
Of course, you can stick to your current habits if you think you’re doing things just right. In the end, it’s all about the personal choices and preferences. So when things work nicely for you, and you’re completely healthy at the same time, you only have to find a way to be more sustainable and at least recycle the waste from your cosmetic products, for a more meaningful impact.