Before Beautyblender was created, makeup sponges were a disposable single-use product. The creator of the Beautyblender, Rea Ann Silva, wanted to make a product that lasted longer than the typical makeup applicator sponges. Anyone that was wearing makeup in the 2000s knows that the Beautyblender revolutionized makeup application, allowing foundations and concealers to be blended with ease. The Beautyblender made its debut on the beauty scene in 2007 and has been a staple in many makeup lovers' product bags ever since. The teardrop-shaped sponge has the unique ability to replace the multitude of brushes that people previously used to blend makeup, and can be used for months, limiting the need to buy more products. By creating a reusable sponge applicator, the Beautyblender was already diverting lots of waste from the makeup industry. With the creation of the eco-conscious Bio Pure version of the blender, the company has taken sustainability one step further. Additionally, this sustainable version of the original product is the same price as the original, which enhances accessibility for all consumers.
The original Beautyblender sponge is made from 100% recycled, non-toxic materials and water-soluble dyes. In response to the growing concern for the environment, Beautyblender released the Bio Pure version of their iconic sponge on February 1st, 2021. This new sponge is unique and innovative, as it is made up of 60% plant-derived materials, coming from the “would be waste product” of sugarcane. The Beautyblender brand calls the new material, made from sugarcane, BioPlush foam. According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, sugarcane is one of the most sustainable materials for cosmetic use because the fibers in the plant make excellent biopolymers. The packaging, previously a small recyclable plastic canister, has also received an eco-friendly revamp. The canister for the Bio Pure Beautyblender sponge is made from recycled resin, which development coordinators for the brand have said reduced the company's CO2 emissions and their dependency on fossil fuels.
In the Bio Pure version, Beautyblender replaced a majority of the raw materials used for the original sponge, with renewable plant-based pre-polymer foam. One minor criticism that I have about the Bio Pure sponge is that it is only made of 60% plant-based materials, rather than 100%. However, the company states that they are working on creating a sponge that is fully plant-based and reduces the environmental impact of the company even further. In terms of transparency, the website FAQ directly addresses this criticism, stating that the use of 60% plant-based materials allows consumers to take a step in the right direction towards being sustainable, without sacrificing the quality and durability that the sponge is known for. The company claims to be limited by technology at the moment but will strive to innovate its production process in the future.
According to the company, the manufacturing process for the Bio Pure version of the sponge is much lower in CO2 emissions as well as water usage. The canister production process has been modified to include less water usage and CO2 emissions. The Beautyblender is manufactured by Silva’s company, Rea.deeming Beauty Inc. This manufacturing facility is located in Pennsylvania, which means that the labor is not outsourced to developing countries or factories overseas, reducing CO2 emissions and possibly encouraging easier oversight of the production chain.
The website’s FAQs for the Bio Pure blender are very accessible for all consumers. When asked to elaborate on the environmental benefit of the sugarcane blender, the website clearly breaks down the benefits in a numbered list. The first benefit is listed as a reduction in CO2 emissions from the use of renewable resources and a lower dependency on fossil fuels. The second benefit is that sugarcane is considered a waste product, meaning that once it has been used to make sugar, it is thrown away and will end up in a landfill. The production of the Bio Pure blender is made from this “would be waste product.”
With the goal of considering the entire lifecycle of the product, Beautyblender recently partnered with Top Rock Renewables to create the Beautyblender Recycling Program and keep the sponges out of landfills. Through this program, the blenders go to a “22 MegaWatt waste-to-energy power plant that powers approximately 14,000 homes per year and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by around 249,100 tons per years” In order to participate in the recycling program, customers use pre-made shipping labels to ship their blenders to the recycling facility, where they will undergo a recycling process that is specific to the medical-grade foam.
This all being said, Beautyblender received a lower score for this section because their production and manufacturing processes are not very clear to the public. Although they have made strides in developing sustainable manufacturing processes, there is little available information about the supply chain and people involved in production.
Rea Ann Silva, the founder of Beautyblender, aimed to create a sustainable sponge since the inception of her company, but the technology for a fully sustainable product was not available to her. This is why when her foam manufacturers came up with the concept behind the BioPlush foam, she jumped on the idea. It is clear that the Beautyblender founder is committed to sustainability for her brand. She has goals to further reduce the impact of the company and make the switch to complete use of the Bio Pure version of the blender but says this switch is contingent on the popularity of the product and how fast consumers adopt its use.
It is clear through the company website that the founder of Beautyblender understands that creating a more sustainable future for the beauty industry will allow consumers to make more sustainable choices when shopping for makeup products. The website mentions that they are striving for sustainability because they want to reduce their impact and because they are aware that consumers care more about the environment now than in the past.
Even before the creation of the Bio Pure version, Rea Ann Silva has made efforts to lessen the environmental impact of her product. There is a page on the Beautyblender website that shows the brand's awareness of consumers' affinity for sustainability and eco-conscious products. Because of this understanding of their consumer base and trends within the makeup community to move towards sustainability, the original Beautyblender is fully recyclable. The sponge is meant to be reused every day and recycled at the end of its life, which the website says is about 3 months. Personally, I’ve had my Beautyblender for over a year. With proper care and regular washing, the sponge will last for a very long time without the need to be replaced. The small plastic package that the original Beautyblender comes in is also 100% recyclable.