Think of a big beauty brand – seen on every supermarket shelf, in every high street pharmacy and available to all – and you might imagine that its mass appeal means that its environmental practices are an afterthought or that the necessary care for our planet, especially from big businesses, is low on its priority list. Think again! For it’s not just the small, artisan or ‘kitchen-table’ labels which are looking at the impact on the environment right now – sometimes it does come from the top.
Garnier – one of the biggest beauty companies in the world – has announced it has the lofty ambition to become the first truly sustainable, natural brand in the mass market. With that intention, it is building on the success of its natural an eco-aware Ultimate Blends range, with the launch of its first zero-plastic waste shampoo bar within that collection.
The new 94% plant-based Ultimate Blends Shampoo Bar signals a major step in the brand’s environmental commitment. It is the first major mass-market brand to launch solid shampoo bars which have zero plastic waste, and this in turn will help to reduce the 520 million shampoo bottles thrown away in the UK each year.
There are four bars in the range (£7.99 each, available from boots.com). Each one has at its heart a hero, plant-based ingredient: Coconut, Ginger, Oat and Honey, with each blend also targeting a different concern – Hydrating, Revitalising, Softening or Strengthening. I’ve been trialling the Hydrating Coconut version – seen here.
Some of the myths surrounding cleansing bars are that they can be drying, are not pleasant to use and are out of step with our times. But the truth is that technology has vastly moved on from the soap bars of old – the ones that Granny used to use. Shampoo bars are not only much kinder on the planet (using less water, less packaging and less materials to make), but are also handy to use and perfect for travelling. In fact, Garnier scientists have spent the last 18 months developing and perfecting the solid shampoo format, evaluating more than 60 formulas to arrive at a blend which replicates the wash experience of a liquid shampoo that will cleanse and nourish hair without stripping it or weighing it down.
So, how does it work? It’s easy – you simply wet your hair, and the bar, which will then start to foam and release its natural aroma. Hold the bar to your hair and lather from roots to tips. Keep massaging into your hair and scalp until all hair is covered in an extra foamy lather – this doesn’t take long! Rinse off and store the bar in a dry place. Follow with a conditioner and don’t forget to recycle the packaging. It’s just a new way to shampoo – with the feel-good factor included. My hair felt soft and squeaky clean (in fact, one benefit is that you really do feel like you are washing your hair deep down). Using a natural product like this, I also felt that I was enhancing my routine by using natural goodness.
The bars are not only a delight to use but have superior eco credentials – being soap-free and silicone-free. They are 97% biodegradable with 80% less packaging and 70% less fossil energy for transportation. They have also been developed with ‘fast-rinse’ technology that can help save up to one bottle of water per wash, and its concentrated format means one bar can last up to two months.
The launch is the first from Garnier since the announcement of its Green Beauty initiative earlier this year. The company’s original Ultimate Blends Shampoo and Conditioner bottles are already 100% recyclable and will be made from 100% recycled plastic by 2021. Producing 1.8 billion health and beauty products each year, available in 64 countries, the company hopes its considerable reach will lead to more widespread consumer awareness of the sustainable choices now available.
While we are on the subject of the Ultimate Blends Shampoo and Conditioner bottles, an honourable mention goes to the Hair Food Banana Shampoo and Conditioner – which are just the height of sensory magic to use – smelling divine and bursting with nutrient-rich natural goodness.
As mentioned, this range’s eco credentials are strong: they contain 98% natural ingredients – blended with banana and coconut and have a vegan formula, with no animal ingredients or by-products used and no silicones. The bottles are 100% recyclable and made with 50% recycled plastic. It really is the feel-good, do-good principle at work.
The Hair Food Banana Shampoo, £6, helps to nourish dry hair, and is blended with an abundance of rich banana and sweet-smelling coconut. It gently cleanses and nourishes dry hair, leaving it healthy and nourished. The Hair Food Banana Conditioner, £6, also has a rich formula, which instantly absorbs to deeply revitalise your locks, detangle and leave your hair shiny and smelling amazing. It’s so nourishing and satisfying to use, that it’s almost good enough to eat.*
(*Don’t try that at home!)
*This review is based on press samples