Beauty and the Beastly Pollution

I’m sure we’re all guilty of throwing recycling in the trash for ease, or buying hundreds of plastic straws for a party when it’s likely only five (if any) will be used. It’s easy to think your carelessness won’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but if you multiply that attitude by the billions of human beings that inhabit the earth…  Well, the result is eight million tonnes of plastic dumped into our oceans every year. That level of pollution is hard to digest mentally, but you’ve possibly already digested it physically. In a study conducted by Professor Richard Thompson, it was revealed that plastic could be found in a third of UK-caught fish, a direct result of marine life consuming microplastic on a daily basis.

Dr Philipp Schwabi, the lead researcher at the Medical University of Vienna commented:

“Of particular concern is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases. While the highest plastic concentrations in animal studies have been found in the gut, the smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the blood stream, lymphatic system and may even reach the liver.”

The recent BBC One documentary Drowning in Plastic highlights this issue further. Wildlife biologist Liz Bonnin is filmed watching on in horror as three month old flesh-footed shearwater chicks exit their homes for the first time and face the damage that surrounds their home. Before the sun sets, they are forced to swallow water so that they can vomit out the contents of their stomach. At three months old they have never even seen the sea, but out of one chicks stomach pops 20 jagged pieces of plastic accidentally fed to it by its own parents. It’s a difficult scene to watch, even more so when you discover the record for the most pieces of plastic swallowed by a single chick currently stands at 260.

It’s no secret that the cosmetics industry has a pretty terrible reputation when it comes to sustainability. For example, the sheer amount of cardboard used in packaging contributes to the loss of around 18 million acres of forest each year. One major consequence of buying your favourite products (other than crippling your bank account) is adding to the pollution caused by excess and non-recyclable plastic packaging. Zero Waste Europe is “a fast-growing movement of communities, local leaders, businesses, experts, influencers and other “change agents” working towards the same vision: eliminating waste in our society.” They recently reported that annually the global cosmetics industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you consider the fact that packaging currently accounts for around 40% of total plastic usage, but on average only 14% of it is ever recycled. By 2050 it is predicted that there will be anywhere up to 12 billion tonnes of plastic sitting in landfills – all generated by the beauty industry alone. People of the world are finally beginning to listen to the pleas of environmentalists, and that includes our own governments. In 2017 we saw several countries pass legislation that banned any products with non-biodegradable microbeads, and Theresa May has made clear her plans to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042.

Many beauty brands are taking the necessary steps to provide products that are sustainable and can be recycled with ease. For example, Lush have always been industry leaders in the fight for ethical vegan beauty products. BLEACH London proudly advertise their vegan formulas and sustainable packaging, 85% of Aveda’s skincare and haircare products are made from 100% recycled materials, and Caudalie is a member of the “1% for the Planet” – a movement that promises 1% of all global sales will go to non-profit organisations that are actively working to protect the environment. Euromonitor (an independent provider of strategic market research) revealed how these changes are great for the environment and for business. The report explored how consumers aged between 25 – 34 are the most conscious of buying from environmentally-friendly brands. Millennials have always focused quite heavily on brand purpose, preferring companies with opinions that match their own, and Gen Z are no exception as they expect the products they use to be innovative, well-priced and able to contribute to the world in a positive way. Euromonitor’s global consumer trends survey showed that buying products that have a positive impact on the world around them is important to 2 out of 3 customers, so that’s a pretty big incentive for brands to do better. Popular platforms like Instagram and Facebook are a great marketing tool for those who make the effort, as the apps play a big role in highlighting brands that are actively lowering their impact on the environment whilst criticising those who don’t seem to be trying at all.

Sarirah Hamid, the founder of beauty insights agency Pretty Analytics, commented on the impact social media has on consumer habits:

“With strong media voices championing everything from mindful ingredient sourcing to cleaner living, these brands  are headlining sustainable beauty. Big brands may  be working on these things behind the scenes, but they need to be transparent about it or risk losing out to those who have already tapped into the rising eco-conscious consumer.”

Slow progress is better than no progress at all, and despite its failings the beauty industry is trying to be more socially conscious, which is an attitude increasingly reflected in the views of everyday consumers as well. The natural beauty revolution is truly thriving and putting pressure on the major players to promote the environmental positives of their brands, so we also need to make sure we’re doing our bit, too! Garnier conducted some research of their own and discovered that 56% of us in Britain don’t bother recycling any of our bathroom products purely because of the inconvenience. That’s roughly 4.5 million people! It’s clear that society wants to make the changes required to keep the planet healthy, but seeing the damage we’ve already caused can sometimes leave us feeling incredibly overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be that way! No one’s asking you to join your local protest group and live a stripped back life in the woods. Take shorter showers, buy from brands who are committed to putting sustainability before anything else. Use refill schemes, go packaging free and finally start recycling your bathroom products! It may not seem like much, but it’s a start.



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Cracking the Cruelty Free Challenge in China

Considering it has an estimated worth of around $33 billion, cutting yourself off from China’s cosmetics market isn’t exactly  a smart move, especially when you consider the rapid growth and development the country has seen in recent years. Unfortunately, for the companies who pride themselves on pushing forward a cruelty free initiative, refusing to sell their products within the country was largely considered the only option – now it seems that may not necessarily  be true…

The Chinese government began to implement a policy to permit “cross-border e-commerce” back in 2014. This would allow international brands to sell their products within the country in a much  easier way. As the normal rules don’t apply to e-commerce purchases, if the product they intended to sell was certified in the country that manufactured it, companies would no longer need to obey the strict animal testing regulations that had previously held them back. Chinese consumers can then buy these products after the company has shipped them through one of China’s free-trade zones, which have so far been established in over 10 cities.

Using digital strategies to legally avoid certain regulations has become quite a popular choice for many international cosmetic companies, including 100% Pure, Urban Decay, The Ordinary, Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics, and Ceramiracle. For example, Urban Decay use a Chinese-language travel retail site to promote its products, allowing Chinese consumers to identify duty-free stores located abroad which sell the products they’re interested in. Customers are then redirected to an e-commerce site where they can order their items to later collect in-store whilst on their travels. Ceramiracle are a skincare brand that prides itself on being both cruelty free and vegetarian-friendly. They use pop-up stores and shopping events as a way to promote and sell their products, and the Chinese public receive unique codes to help complete their purchases on the WeChat e-commerce store.

Commenting on the process of implementing their digital strategies, Ceramiracle’s founder Eugene Hu said the following:

“The challenges are that there are no blueprints for this. You can’t go online and find out how to do this. You have to be there and find people to help you.”

The alternative, of course, is to continue to sell within physical stores in China and endure the inevitable backlash, and we all know where that  gets you in today’s modern world… MAC and NARS have both been under fire for submitting to China’s required animal testing regulations. In 2017, NARS faced an intimidating online boycott orchestrated by their own customers, a result of announcing that they would soon begin selling their products in the country. Unsurprisingly, it’s not just brands who risk experiencing the wrath of the public should they choose monetary gain over ethical standards, but also the celebrities who launch campaigns with them. Sia, an international superstar and a proud vegan who actively advocates for animal rights, was condemned for launching her charitable collaboration with MAC. Although the brand itself doesn’t test on animals, choosing to distribute products in China means that their products undergo mandatory testing anyway. Naturally, fans were unimpressed with Sia’s brief explanation for agreeing to the collaboration…

Sia commented:

“Like MAC, I believe makeup shouldn’t be tested on animals. MAC does not test on animals and is advocating change in countries like China where animal testing exists.”

In an attempt to show that they really do mean well, both MAC and NARS have publicly expressed their admiration and support of the China Food and Drug Administration, who proudly opened a non-animal testing lab in 2017. The Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) is currently looking into various methods of testing cosmetics that don’t rely on animals. Yes, it’s wonderful to see big brands advocating for change, but many members of the public feel that speaking out just isn’t enough. Actions speak louder than words, but to continue selling in a country that participates in the very thing you’re actively advocating against speaks volumes. For the brands who are adamant on maintaining their cruelty free status, however, digital shortcuts are a great solution to the challenges they face when selling within the Chinese market. These companies now have a unique way to be present in the market without compromising on their ideals or those of their consumers, and who wouldn’t prefer cosmetics without a side of guilt?


Lancôme Won’t Live in a World of Illiteracy

Knowledge is power (that’s no secret), but how often do you truly realise how lucky you are to have been provided an education at all? For many of us, the route before us is automatically set from birth. You attend primary school, secondary school, university or an apprenticeship. Perhaps you take a leap of faith and join the workforce straight out of school, chances are you already have some of the transferable skills needed to navigate your chosen sector. Whatever you choose to do, these paths are only available because of the standard education we so often feel is forced upon us.

Your access to education can change depending on where you are in the world and how much money you have in the bank, but receiving a quality education is a basic human right. Thankfully, there are numerous organisations working tirelessly to increase the literacy rate of individuals across the globe, and the latest to join this commendable campaign is Lancôme. The international cosmetics company is conducting its first global charitable initiative, and has joined forces with NGO Care, an organisation that describes its mission as a chance to “work around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice.” Over the next 5 years their “Write Her Future” campaign will fund quality literacy programmes for young women and girls in Morocco, Guatemala and Thailand.

The beauty brand will donate an incredible 2 million euros to fund this campaign within communities, which they announced will benefit more than 8000 women as well as indirectly benefiting another 40,000 individuals. There can only be positive results from ensuring that women are well-educated in life, as they often suffer the most in underdeveloped countries. For example, a child that is born to a literate mother is 50% more likely to survive beyond the age of 5. Naturally, a child is much more likely to read and write if their mother does as well.

Françoise Lehmann, Lancôme’s International President, commented:

“Today, 76 million young women lack basic reading and writing skills. Often hidden, this handicap causes young women to face exclusion and dependence, with serious consequences for themselves, their families and their close ones.”

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Association) created a report in 2013 that detailed the effects that a lack of education has on young women:

  1. Girls with higher levels of education are less likely to get married at an early age – If all girls had a primary education, there would be 14% fewer child marriages, and if all girls had a secondary education, there would be two-thirds fewer child marriages.
  2. Education narrows pay gaps between men and women – In Pakistan, women with a primary education earn 51% of what men earn. With a secondary education, they earn 70% of what men earn, and in Jordan women with a primary education earn 53% of what men earn. With a secondary education, they earn 67% of what men earn.
  3. Educated women are more likely to find work – In Brazil, only 37% of women with less than a primary education are in work. This rises to 50% if they have a primary education, and 60% with a secondary education.

Now, we may be a few years on, but the results are still largely the same. Something as simple as being able to read and write can empower an individual to recognise and utilise a world full of potential opportunities. This can reduce poverty, end the unnecessary deaths of young children, and eliminate hunger, all of which are a positive progression towards a world more united.

The campaign has been openly supported by the likes of Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Penélope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o and Lily Collins, who have been spreading the word across their social media accounts.

Julia Roberts shared the following:

“We read and write – that’s how we communicate, how we share, how we express our feelings, and how we learn to understand the world. To not have that accessible to everyone everywhere is really a crime. It’s so great for Lancôme to be involved and get serious about supporting young girls in the world through the work of Write Her Future.”

Education is a powerful tool, and this partnership will allow countless young women to turn their lives around. This opportunity will help them overcome discrimination, recognise their worth and build on their self-confidence. It will offer them real freedom and a chance to improve the lives of many, starting with themselves.


If you want to show your support for this truly incredible cause, then visit to get the ball rolling. Joining the campaign is super easy – you just sign your name and upload a photo. Make sure you share it online to help spread awareness!

For more information, please visit


The Power of Plastic: Schwarzkopf Gives a Million Chances

Schwarzkopf – an international brand known for its incredible colour and hair styling products, but they’re big on the environment too! The Henkel-owned hair care pioneer has decided to clean up the planet with their Million Chances initiative, a partnership between Schwarzkopf and the Plastic Bank. The Plastic Bank is a globally recognised organisation that reduces plastic waste by providing opportunities for local volunteers who remove it from their environment, an effort primarily focused on countries that lack an effective waste management infrastructure. Ultimately this means less plastic polluting our oceans (and fewer disturbing videos of animals with rubbish wrapped around their throats…).

David Katz, founder and CEO of the Plastic Bank, commented:

“Our chain of collections in Haiti engages the poor to be able to provide a way for plastic to be used as money. The sale of social plastic provides an income for the world’s poor.”

The Plastic Bank has been operating since 2013, but this joint venture will see Schwarzkopf focus on Haiti. They will offer the local girls and women an opportunity to collect plastic and exchange it for goods and services at their collection centres. The project is a perfect way to care for the environment and those that inhabit it.

Marie-Ève Schröder, the Corporate Senior VP of International Marketing for Henkel Beauty Care, said the following:

“In a country like Haiti that is shaped by poverty and the lack of prospects, you need a fair bit of patience and have to invest a lot of time and dedication to be successful with your cause. That’s exactly what Schwarzkopf’s Million Chances initiative is doing here and over the course of the partnership with the Plastic Bank. In particular, we are focusing on the daily needs and problems of girls and women.”

There are many incentives to using the service, including areas to charge their mobile phones, unlimited access to the internet and a quiet place for children to study in an environment conducive to learning. The money they earn provides a steady income, which can then used to put children through school. In a country where school is fee-based, and the cost of transport, books and mandatory uniforms is almost impossible for many to cover, an opportunity such as this offers tremendous opportunities for the local children. It offers them the support, freedom and confidence to do what most of us take for granted – a chance to just get on with their everyday lives.

The impact this project will have on the lives of those in Haiti who utilise this resource is undeniable, and Schröder agrees:

“Environmental issues, poverty, not enough educational opportunities and jobs – these are only a few of the challenges that women face on a daily basis. What’s more is that often the women have to raise their children all by themselves. I am sure that we can help girls and women here in Haiti and offer them a way to be more self-confident, as well as providing better chances and future prospects with Schwarzkopf’s Million Chances initiative.”

The Plastic Bank have created a brilliant initiative to positively impact both humanity and the world, as their recycled “Social Plastic” can be processed and supplied to companies as a direct result of the hard work put in by the locals. Who knew plastic pollution had its benefits? Yes, I know it would be great if the plastic in our oceans wasn’t there to begin with, but this is a great way to rectify our mistakes. A negative becoming a positive, and it’s helping struggling communities along the way! It’s not often you see large companies taking initiative and using their power for good either, and it’s great to see Schwarzkopf giving back to a world that it continuously benefits from.

To read more on this wonderful project or to find out how you can play a part, please visit


One Small Step for Revlon, One Slightly Larger Step for Modelkind

It’s no secret that the fashion world is in dire need of diversifying its talent. It’s imperative that brands work towards including more models who aren’t your “industry standard,” and not in a way that feels as though it’s an awkward attempt to roll with the so-called trends – this isn’t a trend. That means more non-white, plus size, disabled, transgender or gender nonconforming models, and not just for the season. The list is as long as there are variations of human beings, and all of them should be able to see positive representations of themselves within the media.

Look at companies like H&M or Wycon and it’s not hard to see what happens when a company gets it seriously wrong, ending up on the bad side of their customers. Both were recently in the news due to major misjudgements that received worldwide backlash. H&M for the heavily inappropriate “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie they placed on a young black boy (whilst his white counterpart was branded a “Jungle Survival Expert”), and Wycon for a black nail varnish they named “Thick as a N****.” Mistakes so undeniably offensive, so ridiculously baffling it makes you wonder just how these ideas made it through the wringer. How many of these shocking blunders could have been avoided with something as simple as having a more racially diverse workforce to educate the team? It all comes down to a lack of understanding of the experiences and struggles of others, and that can only be remedied by including those individuals in the conversation. How else are you to know the needs and desires of those different from yourself? Our power as consumers is that we get to be the driving force behind the products we see around us and the notions that those products promote. Brands need to understand that as their audience changes, so must they. It’s simple, adapt or face desertion.

Changes have gradually been made over the years, but we still have a long way to go! Fortunately, Revlon have chosen to be part of the solution and have hired plus size model Ashley Graham as their latest brand ambassador. This will be her debut beauty campaign and a welcome continuation of her recent success, which includes multiple magazine covers and her position as a judge on the iconic show America’s Next Top Model. She will join fellow models Achok Majak, Rina Fukushi, Adwoa Aboah, Imaan Hammam, Raquel Zimmermann and Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot for Revlon’s Live Boldly campaign, which hopes to “empower women through community building, catalytic experiences and inspiring conversations”.

Following the announcement, Graham commented:

“I am thrilled to be part of this timely and ground-breaking campaign with different types of women across races, ages and sizes, and to leverage this platform to continue to create positive change. To Live Boldly is the mantra of my life. Every day in the mirror I say to myself, ‘I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful,’ and together with Revlon, we can inspire all women to do the same.”

It’s amazing to see models like Graham breaking new ground and bringing light to the issues that matter, especially in an environment that still isn’t particularly accepting of them. The more we talk about diversity, both within fashion and society in general, the more we all learn to accept and celebrate our differences. Hopefully we’ll continue to see prominent brands and their representatives working to promote more inclusivity across the board – perhaps then the rest of the world will follow suit.



NYX Partners with Samsung to Launch VR Venture

NYX and Samsung have joined forces on a new and exciting venture. The surprising partnership will see the duo using virtual reality to broadcast make up tutorials showcasing their current beauty products – all presented by leading beauty vloggers Kristen Leanne, Karen Sarahi Gonzales and Mykie (Glam & Gore). Users will be able to learn more about the products that pique their interest, and will also receive promotional offers on the items featured within the tutorial.

Mehdi Mehdi, the VP of Digital at NYX Professional Make Up, said the following:

“We aim to seamlessly incorporate digital into everything we do, and see virtual reality as the new frontier in the beauty industry.”

Us humans are naturally quite a greedy bunch. We always want technology bigger and better than before (I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for the hover boards from Back to the Future), and it’s no secret that VR has really taken the world by storm in recent years. If companies want to stay ahead of the game, then it’s vital they work to create a more dynamic experience for their customers. Now that the everyday consumer can afford to use these products within their own home, its increasing popularity has really opened doors for companies hoping to provide a more personal and immersive experience.

Some of you might be wondering if this experience is really for you. Can virtual reality and make up successfully mix? Do we even want them to? Well, those phone applications that allow you to try on certain products after uploading a selfie are technically offering a similar service. In a very basic form with way less flash obviously, but you get the idea. If you’ve ever wished for a more comprehensive version of that then you’ve got nothing to lose, and we all know watching people use VR headsets for the first time is often a very comical affair. Why else would those YouTube compilations have so many views? I know I’m not the only one watching them…

Select NYX stores have been hosting the experience since the 18th of December 2017, and nationwide installations will continue throughout 2018. Pop along to one soon and let us know how you got on!

For more information on this project, please visit

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The (Potentially Quite Skewed) Truth About Looking Good

The date is Wednesday 10th January 2018, and the BBC broadcasts a study in which it tests just how effective our beauty products are compared to the claims their respective company makes. Does paying more always equal an increase in benefits? Do our products really do much for us at all? Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m fairly  certain most of us know that the products we buy probably won’t work the incredible miracles we love to fantasise about, but it’s nice that there’s a television show to reiterate the obvious.

The University of Sheffield is the arena, and the contenders? Nivea, Clinique and Embryolisse, all carefully selected to showcase the high street, mid and luxury markets. Over a three week period we watch 25 volunteers with “healthy skin” split into 3 groups, each applying one of the unlabelled moisturisers to just half of their face. At the end of the three weeks the experts test the skin of the volunteers just like they did at the beginning of the experiment, checking for hydration and noting how well it generally acts as a barrier.

What the results showed: The skin of the volunteers using the Nivea and Clinique moisturisers experienced a temporary increase in hydration, whilst there was no noticeable improvement for those using the Embryolisse product. The expert suggested that this may be because the Nivea and Clinique products contained glycerine, a humectant used in most skincare items. For those of us who don’t know what a humectant is (raise your hands, don’t feel ashamed – I’m right there with you), it’s a substance that absorbs or helps another substance retain moisture. Even though two out of three of the products showed a positive result, the overall conclusion of the study was that healthy skin wouldn’t actually  see any long-term improvements from using a moisturiser.

So, what can we take away from this? You know, other than temporarily having all of our hopes dashed… Well, for starters, this experiment only lasted three weeks and included a very small pool of test subjects – not exactly a rigorous trial with a ton of weight behind it. Secondly, there was a real lack of diversity within the group of volunteers. Yes, there were some Asian participants, but most candidates were white – how does a study such as this benefit the millions of people of colour who buy skincare products? Most of the information provided wouldn’t even apply to their skin. Not to mention the total lack of attention paid towards other factors that could alter results, such as their daily diet or the weather.

The show itself could have been very educational, but disappointed many beauty fans by falling short of the mark and discrediting brands without any significant evidence to back up their claims. The tone throughout almost felt patronising, as if the everyday consumer wasn’t particularly clued up. We don’t all just reach for the shiniest packaging (although a pretty box is always  appreciated). With the current rise in social media, it is now easier than ever for beauty enthusiasts to share their secrets – budget or extravagant – with anyone who will listen, so maybe we should stop looking to shows like these for inspiration. Find those in the community that cater to your needs and believe in the products you enjoy, because at the end of the day all you need is a little confidence – that’s the truth about looking good.


Who IS Barry M?

Barry M is a cult-favourite colour cosmetics brand and has been around for over THREE decades! But who IS Barry M?

Well, throwback to the 1970s when a young man began selling a range of beauty products on a stall on Dalston’s Ridley Road Market! His name was Barry Mero, and after expanding to a shop on Brixton Market, the rest, as they say, is history, and Barry M was officially founded in 1982.

Spotting a gap in the market for a more diverse range of nail polishes, Barry began by creating 72 vibrant shades – more than any other colour cosmetics brand before! Barry M was also the first brand to offer black lipstick and white eyeliner.

All products have ALWAYS been cruelty-free and vegetarian, and Barry M is a proud certified Cruelty Free brand!

Barry M is now run by Barry’s son, Dean, as Barry sadly passed away back in 2014.

The brand has grown from strength to strength and offers one of the largest colour collections of any cosmetics brand! Barry M can be found in the UK and Australia. Shop online here.


Estee Lauder Acquires Too Faced Cosmetics…

Estee Lauder announced last week that it is to make the biggest acquisition in its history with the purchase of cult cosmetics brand, Too Faced.

With a majority stake sold back in 2015 to private equity firm General Atlantic, Too Faced was reportedly valued at $500 million. Seemingly, the brand appears to have almost tripled in value, being sold to Estee Lauder for $1.45 billion in an impending deal set to close before the end of December.

Too Faced was founded back in 1998 by former Estee Lauder employees Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson. Famed for its kitsch packaging and highly pigmented products, the brand has gone from strength to strength over the years and is renowned for its commitment to being 100% cruelty-free and its extensive offering of vegan cosmetics.


Pai Skincare’s New Arrival…

Petit Pai is the new skincare range for babies from the organic skincare brand, Pai Skincare.

The range consists of Apple & Mallow Blossom Face & Body Cream (£20), and Apple & Mallow Blossom Hair & Body Wash (£18), and also a Try Me Set (£8).

All products are fragrance-free and are formulated to maintain the optimum pH of babies’ skin. The key ingredients used in the range are apple seed oil and mallow blossom.

Image credit: tec_estromberg

Image credit: tec_estromberg