How the single product brand trend could be an environmental home run for the beauty industry

How the single product brand trend could be an environmental home run for the beauty industry

As beauty professionals, I’d hazard a guess that we’re all well acquainted, and more than a little embarrassed, about our industry’s negative association with environmental issues. As one of the world’s most prolific offenders of plastic waste, we are, despite ongoing and progressive initiatives and packaging developments, one of the worst culprits of single-use products destined for landfill. 

So, what about the effect of the increasing popularity of single-product beauty launches? Rather than single use, although they are creeping into the mix, the recent upsurge in single product skincare regimes is becoming a popular marketing tactic for brands and also creating a new breed of skincare founders capitalizing on the popularity of the new trend. In terms of skincare, it seems that maximalism is out, and minimalism is in. 

Augustinus Bader kickstarted the movement with the launch of his stem cell moisturizer, The Cream, last year. The launch came without bells and whistles, no add on items and the range was notable for its minimalist offering – just one product. The skincare guru has seemingly paved the way. Founders of cult beauty brand Summer Fridays got into game in 2018 with one product – the Jet Lag Mask (although I wonder how that’s faring in the current climate). While they’ve since expanded to a core product range of six, the mask was the hero, and only, sell-out offering for some time. 

But what effect does this new skincare approach have in terms of sustainability in comparison to its multi-step predecessor? The more is more, previously much-loved, approach to skincare promotes shelves packed with products aimed at 12-step programs to create perfect skin. This generates, to put it simply, a mass of trash. Multiple bottles of what are likely potions and lotions more a marketer’s dream, and an environmentalist’s nightmare, than a skin care holy grail. But would we use less of each bottle, and therefore limit the turnover of throw-away packaging? 

Meanwhile, while the latest en vogue trend on the block, single product skincare, has been lauded as a minimalist approach to perfect skin. While some could argue that using one product will promote a much higher usage, therefore a faster rotation of treasure to trash, if having to choose between the two you’d obviously lean towards the manufacturing of fewer bottles, tubes and, ultimately, waste. Less is more, as they say. And with the nature of the shopper being to increasingly seek out the new, consumers across all target market groups – baby boomers to gen z – are also desperately searching for efficacious products that also fulfil their desire to be a green buyer.

Craig’s Resurfacing Compound seems to have hit the nail on the head. Sold out in 48 hours, the serum was two-years in the making and is said to cut beauty regimes in half with its tantalizing mix of ingredients – she pulled out the big guns; retinol, antioxidants, glycolic acid and lactic acids – it also comes encased in a full recyclable bottle. 

With COVID-19 teaching the world to slow down and take a breath, the same could be said for our skincare routines. As stated by Vogue, a more considered approach to beauty is both needed and being lapped up by consumers. The upsurge in single-product launches is seemingly capitalizing on a desire for less is more and causing a marketing furore to boot. Less production, less waste, and, put simply, a swift U-turn from the maximalist approach of old. Get the packaging right – recycled and recyclable if you please – and the industry could be on to a winner both commercially and environmentally.