Glossier is a viral makeup sensation with many popular products, including Boy Brow Clear, a personal standard in my own makeup bag. Glossier takes steps that many large companies don’t when it comes to transparency and sustainability. Their products contain mainly naturally occurring ingredients, they commit to transparency in their supply chain and have been receptive to consumer concerns regarding sustainability. However, corporations should not have to rely on consumers to tell them what is and is not sustainable and should take their own steps towards making eco-friendly products, rather than waiting on their customers to demand it. Overall, Glossier is not a perfect brand and Boy Brow is not a perfect product, but it is not entirely unsustainable nor a bad option for makeup lovers.
Glossier’s website lists the four main ingredients of Boy Brow Clear on its product description under a dropdown menu. These are Beeswax and Carnauba Wax, Oleic Acid, Lecithin, and Soluble Collagen. The rest of the product formula is hidden behind a hyperlink which many consumers may not click. Though none of the product’s ingredients jump out as immediately unsustainable, there is little to no information regarding where they are sourced from. Beeswax, for example, can be sustainably sourced from beekeepers and large corporations should take that step because they can afford it, but there is no information as to whether or not Glossier is doing so. In total, the formula is not entirely sustainable but unlikely to cause massive amounts of harm.
Glossier’s packaging for products seems to be 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. Overall, Glossier’s packaging is not perfect but is more sustainable than many of its competitors and responsive to consumer pushback regarding sustainability.
As a company, Glossier has been receptive to cries to increase sustainability. However, they tend to follow consumer trends rather than strive for sustainability on their own. In 2019, Glossier discontinued a product that used glitter due to pushback about the unsustainability of that product. Additionally, they also 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, even for repeat customers who already had many. As a large corporation, the steps Glossier takes for sustainability are positive when compared to other brands. Despite this, it is important to note that they were not made because the company itself had a desire for sustainability, but rather because of pressure from consumers. The products are still in small plastic or metal containers with standard makeup shelf lives, creating waste and pushing customers to purchase frequently. This is why I gave them a 2-star rating for “how it’s made.” They are clearly striving for sustainability when they can, but are not doing enough in many areas.
Glossier commits to transparency along its supply chain with many pledges 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.” Boy Brow is certified cruelty-free, as well, further limiting its impact. Glossier’s pledge to environmental sustainability is a step that many companies in the beauty industry do not take. However, following laws with a vague phrase about “preserving the environment” is not enough for such a profitable company, and I would be interested in seeing a full sustainability report from this organization.