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Are beauty samples sustainable?


Everybody loves mini beauty products - they’re so cute! But there’s no denying that minis and samples contribute heavily to the beauty industry’s waste problem. Is there a way to do better?

The downsides of beauty samples

Most beauty samples come in single-use plastic packaging, contributing to the 120 billion units of plastic packaging produced for cosmetics each year. Most of these will end up in the trash, since they are too small to be sorted properly (credit card size or larger is the rule of thumb for recyclability).

Additionally, many companies give free samples, spurring overconsumption. Even with sustainable packaging, we really need to be purchasing fewer beauty products, and samples don’t help.

Even so, many customers (including Rebrand customers we polled on Instagram) love that they can try a product before purchasing the full size - and many see that as a way to reduce waste! Plus, mini sizes can be great for travel.

Sustainable skincare samples

After mapping out the impact of producing and disposing skincare samples, we observed a few attributes that could lessen the impact of skincare samples:

  1. Not automatically included. In order for samples to be sustainable, they must be selected by the customer as something they are actually interested in trying. Free unannounced samples are headed for the landfill. Companies can take this a step further by requiring the customer to purchase samples (even at a very low price) so they actually evaluate their need to try the product.
  2. Packaged in refillable or compostable packaging. Because small packaging is unlikely to be recycled, we need to design for reuse and compost (especially home compost). For powder and solid products, compostable paper packaging can be a great option. For liquid products, refillable packaging is the way to go!
  3. BONUS: Made from materials that would otherwise go to waste. By using excess product from a trial production run, or repurposing existing packaging, companies can reduce the impact of their samples.

The Refillable Starter Set

Taking all of these things into consideration, we created the Refillable Starter Set! We received feedback from potential customers who believed that sampling would help them decide if the brand was right for them without wasting a full size product. So we opted to make this available for our most essential products: Dream Cleanser and Day & Night Cream.

Since we already offer skincare refills, refillable packaging was always part of the plan. If you love the products, you can easily purchase a 2X Refill or refill at one of our partnering refill shops. If not, you can use the containers for other products you love.

To really go above and beyond, we used existing materials to create these samples. You’ll notice the mini Dream Cleanser comes in the same packaging as Power Serum and Super Oil, while the mini Day & Night Cream comes in the same packaging as Dewy Balm (with different labels, of course). This means we are able to reduce the number of packaging types we buy, resulting in fewer leftovers.


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