Origins Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

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Melanie Namkung
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This face mask is amongst one of the best-selling products from Origins. For a while, charcoal face masks have been in the trend due to its abilities to draw out impurities deep within the skin. Origins focuses on promoting this product due to the fact that bamboo charcoal is a sustainable alternative to charcoal sourced from wood. However, Kaolin and Bentonite are also part of the product. Kaolin and Bentonite are clays that must be mined. Mining is detrimental to our environment, harming it in a number of ways. It feels as if Origins is putting the light on bamboo charcoal to distract customers from noticing the Kaolin and Bentonite. Despite the disappointing use of these ingredients, Origins tries to increase the recyclability of their packaging as well as use renewable energy for their manufacturing facilities and freestanding stores. Though Origins has all these plans and achievements listed on their website, it is hard to believe their word due to their parent company, Estee Lauder Companies. Estee Lauder Companies has a lot of greenwashing on their website for they continue to mention their great plans for sustainability, but there has been no improvement or acceleration made. 

what it's made of:


The most concerning ingredients would be Kaolin and Bentonite. Kaolin is also referred to as white china clay and Bentonite is a type of clay known for its absorbent qualities. These ingredients are mined, which is a clear indicator that they are not sustainable at all. Mining leads to erosion of land, destruction of natural habitat, and contamination of water and soil. These are only the few examples of environmental destruction that result from mining. The charcoal used in this product is sourced from bamboo due to its ability to grow quickly and produce less pollution. It is good to see that Origins is using a more sustainable charcoal for one of their most popular face masks. In addition, all the ingredients are 100% vegan with the exception of “cruelty-free honey and beeswax.” However, it is disappointing to see that Origins only focuses on promoting the sustainable aspect of the product -the bamboo charcoal- and fails to address the fallbacks of using Kaolin and Bentonite.

how it's made:


The packaging is FSC-certified, meaning that it comes from wood that is sourced from responsibly managed forests. The packaging is currently 55% recyclable, but the goal is to push this number up to 80% by 2023. Primary manufacturing facilities use 100% renewable electricity and they plan to “achieve zero industrial waste-to-landfill global manufacturing and distribution sites.” Although Origins does not provide information on their supply chain, their parent company Estee Lauder Companies claims they have supplier monitoring and a code of conduct to ensure ethical labor practices. The Supplier Code of Conduct claims to be in compliance with the law, to maintain ethicality throughout the supply chain, and to provide a safe, respectful, diverse workplace. It is great to hear that the parent company has a code of conduct in place to regulate their suppliers, but I do wish that Origins could address the supply chain on their website. This would offer more transparency and further increase the trust of the customer. 

who makes it:


Origins is one of the many brands under the parent company Estee Lauder Companies. The parent company has a Global Environmental Affairs and Safety team that searches for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and focus on resource efficiency. The team has even created a net zero portfolio that outlines their plans to implement solar panels and a wind farm all while protecting nearby wildlife. They have divided their focus specifically on climate change, waste and recycling, and water. Aside from their water focused initiatives, they have been passive in their efforts to address the other two focuses. All they mention are plans, plans, and plans. No talk of ongoing programs to tackle these environmental issues. Estee Lauder also claims they are cruelty-free, but since they sell products in China, they are required to test on animals by law. They do not provide any cruelty-free certifications to support their claim. Although Origins does make the effort to increase eco-friendly packaging and offset their carbon emissions by planting trees, there is a lack of credibility due to their parent company.