Sachets No More - Why Sample Packaging Needs A Face Lift

Go into your beauty stash.  How many samples do you have?  Count how many of those come in sachets.  Now how many are recyclable?

This is a check not many have done, and the questions are not ones that we ask of ourselves when we pick up our latest skincare order or open our newest subscription box.  But with the world literally drowning in plastic, it's one that we *should* start to consider.

Plastic Waste - Beauty Sample Sachets
My sachet stash - FYI many of these brands are ones I love, and many do offer samples in recyclable packaging.  But that doesn't mean they can't still improve even further! 

Why?

Sachets are choking the planet, and there are countries drowning in waste due to their impact.  Coastlines are riddled with debris, landfills piled high with the used packets, and the volume just keeps growing.  We've all heard the damage plastic is doing to the environment and the danger it poses not only to marine and animal life but to human health as well, but how much have we actually thought about those unassuming packets in our cupboards?  Have we asked why they are so prevalent?  Or why they are used so often??

Well, sachets are an inexpensive way for beauty brands to attempt to gain traction, as they can offer free (or incredibly affordable) samples to potential customers in an effort to gain sales.  Sent out with services like Glamour Beauty Club or one of the hundreds of sample websites, handed out at pop up stalls, given in goodie bags at expos and events, offered after enquiries, or available as a GWP online - however they are dispensed, the intent is to generate new interest in the products.  And it's not looking like it will stop anytime soon, as this minis market has now reached a worth of over one BILLION dollars.

I'm not saying samples are bad -- in fact, I think the opposite.  But the bad news is that most of these sachets are not recyclable.  They're a one use wonder, enjoyed for a day before ending up in the bin (or worse yet, forgotten about until expired and then wasted without even being opened).  In fact, when doing my empties roundups, I noticed that the most common item in my stash that couldn't be reused, repurposed, or recycled were the sachets.  Even some brands who are usually great in terms of their packaging offer these wasteful products -- I mean, every single one in the photo above are brands I respect and enjoy who use organic ingredients, implement ethical practices, and are genuinely fab in all other respects!  But it always makes me so sad having to put a single use wrapper in the garbage when the sample is finished.  Because the reality is they might not end up in landfill, but in the woods, on beaches, in rivers, in the oceans...  And then eventually begin to break down into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic that are a serious health hazard.

And of course this waste isn't limited to the beauty industry - you find it very common with food packaging in Asia, with children's collectible cards, with powdered drinks, cleaning products, shampoos, condiments... The list goes on and on.  But when it comes to the UK, one of the culprits that appears to be far too common is skincare.  Free samples are such a draw for those looking to grab a deal, and with services like FeelUnique's 'Pick n Mix' being touted as a good way to score some well known brands on the cheap or retailers popping in a few freebies as an incentive to order with them, it's no wonder sachets have become so prevalent in our cupboards.

Singapore beach plastic waste pollution


We can all agree it's ideal to pass on plastic whenever possible, but sometimes it's just not economically feasible for brand or for consumer.  When it comes to samples, the majority of businesses opt for plastic to reduce costs for customers.  Glass is heavy and costs more to produce, so it can dramatically raise prices and make it so sampling products is no longer a viable option for those on a strict budget.  But when it comes to skincare, trying before you buy can be so important if you're trying to reduce you impact - by getting a small amount of product you can see if it works for you, meaning if it doesn't you aren't tossing a full bottle away.  But is there a way to try without adding to the single use plastic problem??

Of course!

There are loads of brands that offer glass vials and jars, cardboard tubes, and plastic tubs, all of which are better options than sachets.  Amazing efforts are being made in the natural beauty world to update how they offer samples, with many providing larger 'try me' products at reduced rates, minis in jars or bottles, or teaming up with subscription services to get their formulas out there.  And while not all of them are in compostable or "eco" packaging, they are much better for the environment than single use packets.

In fact, I was gifted a selection of Botanicals goodies recently to try out, including their Nourish Cream Cleanser, Gentle Moisturizer, and Neroli Body Balm, and not one came inside of a single use sachet.  All three products came housed within little plastic pots, all of which are recyclable (or better yet, able to be reused!).

Botanicals promises to use glass jars and bottles wherever possible. When safety is an issue, Botanicals only uses PET (polyethylene terephthalate), a plastic resin and a form of polyester that’s highly recyclable.  Botanicals ‘Try Me’ pots are not only recyclable, but also dishwasher safe and refillable, thereby extending the life of your ‘Try Me’ pots.  Perfect for decanting your skin care favourites when out and about, whether it’s for your hand bag, briefcase, backpack or when travelling light to a festival, weekend away or jetting off on holiday this summer.

(P.S. Want to know more about Botanicals' plastic promise??  You can find the full details here.)

photo from Botanicals

Having samples is crucial for those with sensitive or reactive skin, and it can also be super helpful for anyone on a tight budget as you can figure out if the product is worth buying before fully committing your money.  And with Botanicals opting for try me pots instead of toss away sachets, you can save waste from going to landfill AND actually get even more to sample!  Every jar contains a generous 5g which is often enough for at least a week's worth of applications - that's more than enough time to see if your skin responds how you want it to!  I mean, just check out my experience with the pots I was sent...

Nourish Cream Cleanser: This is the product I was most happy to be able to try before I decided on a purchase, as cream cleansers often break me out and leave my skin looking worse.  I always worry about picking up a new cream formula, as I always have that suspicion in the back my head and the worry that it will end up going to waste.  For cleansers, I need about a week to tell if my skin is going to react badly or not, so I was really happy to find that Botanicals' try me pot lasted me exactly seven days (with conservative applications).  The Nourishing Cream Cleanser was a tad too much for my summer skin, but I have a feeling this will be just what I need come the colder weather.  The butters and oils will be so thirst quenching when my skin is feeling dryer, and the gentle scent will be such a treat during the darker days!

Gentle Moisturiser: I'm always a bit worried when testing a new moisturizer, as my skin is so fussy that more often than not I end up breaking out.  Testing is a must, as I have found far too many times the thing I thought would be perfect turns out to be a dud.  Well, I'm happy to report this works for my congestion prone skin!  The Gentle Moisturizer performs similarly to the equivalent PHB formula, but with a bit more skin quenching goodness.  Plus the smell is much more up my alley - zesty with a touch of soothing lavender!

Neroli Body Balm: This sample is actually still not empty - how cool is that??  This balm melts down into a lush oil that spreads so easily and tackles dry skin.  While it is rich, it's not as heavy as I was expecting.  It does fully absorb once you massage it in, and it leaves your skin feeling incredibly silky and touchable.  But the best thing about this body balm - the smell!  It's positively sumptuous, with seductive notes of neroli and an exotic hint of spice that warms and rounds the aroma into something so stunning.  I actually wear this as a perfume on my pulse points sometimes because I love the scent so much!

Botanicals Skincare Samples Review


I knew I liked Botanicals already, but that doesn't mean every formula will suit my skin.  That's why I am so happy they offer such a good sample service, and one that doesn't make me choose between trying before I buy and contributing to the single use waste problem.  Thanks to their minis, I was able to figure out what I should grab a full size of and what just doesn't work for me personally.

And when I'm done with the samples, I reuse these little pots as they're super handy for travel or for sharing a bit of product with a friend who is curious about the formula.  No need to say goodbye after one use!

Interested in testing out some samples from Botanicals?  You can find them on the website, plus you can grab two free ones here!  And if you pick some up, I would be so happy to hear what you think!

In the meantime, I would love if you would join me in asking your favourite brands to #SkipTheSachet and opt for more sustainable packaging!  Pop them a message on Twitter or Instagram to let them know you think it is an important action to be taken, and a necessary step for the beauty industry to protect our collective future.  And who knows, maybe together we can all help make the change! xx

2 comments

  1. I've never liked these sachets, it's always seemed like such a waste of that much packaging for so little products. Hope brands start thinking of alternatives but I know it's almost too east not to!

    The Quirky Queer

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    Replies
    1. yes fingers crossed change is coming! in the meantime I'm asking all brands I use that offer these single use plastics to #SkipTheSachet xx

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