Glossier is an extremely popular, newer makeup, skincare, and fragrance brand founded on the idea of crafting custom makeup with customer input. Glossier stands apart from other beauty brands and corporations, however is still imperfect and could be doing much better when it comes to transparency and sustainability. What bothered me about this brand is that it seems that they wait for consumers to notice a problem to fix it. While it is endearing that they listen to their consumers, it would behoove them to be more proactive when it comes to sustainability.
The Glossier Website lists the main ingredients next to the product. For this exfoliating soap bar, bamboo powder mixed into the product is the star of the show. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, with its powder being a sustainable option from a renewable resource. Furthermore, bamboo does not require pesticides to grow which is fantastic! Other emphasized ingredients include natural oils extracted from sunflowers and aloe plants which help moisturize the user’s skin. While Aloe extract is relatively sustainable with a low water-use required, sunflower extract is very water intensive to produce and has a high carbon footprint compared to most other plants.
While a few ingredients are immediately visible, this appears to be the main natural ingredients while others are more hidden, despite still being available after clicking on a few more clicks. This seems a bit green-washing adjacent to me. While most of the other ingredients mainly deal with fragrance and pigment, it still would be nice for the consumer to have information readily available about what they are rubbing all over their skin. Glossier’s packaging for products is more sustainable than many other large beauty brands. Products are shipped in 100% recycled boxes without necessary liners or other waste. Furthermore, their packaging was made more sustainable in 2019 with the option to choose limited packaging at checkout. If that option is not selected, products are sent with a reusable, but still plastic, pink pouch that can be recycled at all Glossier retail locations.
All in all, Glossier strives for transparency. They have a Code of Conduct that their suppliers and providers must maintain, and the CEO has also made a statement that is available on their website about their company’s commitment to sustainability. However, there is really no information about how this bar of soap was made. I would love to trust their word for it, however I have been burned by trusting other companies in the past. Glossier has not had much bad press or news leaks about how they conduct their business, however it is impossible to know that they do not tell us. Furthermore, it seems that they only make change when consumers pressure them. An example of this is when they added an option to limit packaging on shipped products when consumers questioned why their pink pouches (reusable plastic pouches lined with bubble wrap) were sent with every order. The products are still in small plastic or metal containers with standard makeup shelf lives, creating waste and pushing customers to purchase frequently. Disappointedly, this change came as a result of backlash rather than the company striving for sustainability on its own accord.
Glossier commits to transparency along its supply chain with promises to employ ethical labor practices. They commit to never employ forced or underage labor, pay all employees at least the local minimum wage and uphold human rights in labor. Regarding sustainability, Glossier pledges to “demonstrate compliance with all applicable environmental laws, as well as a regard for preserving the environment.” The body hero bar is both vegan and cruelty free, using mostly natural ingredients. All of this is nice, but there is a dearth of information supplying evidence of many of their promises. I would love to see evidence of their sustainability claims, maybe something along the lines of a company-wide sustainability report which I searched for but could not find.