The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

December 11, 2009

100% Pure: Great on the Inside; Working on the Outside

Guys (meaning readers who identify as male), here’s another post about cosmetics. So unless you’re into makeup (and really, why shouldn’t you be?) you can forward this one to your female friends. I promise I’ll have a post just for you next week!

I frequently get asked about what I do for plastic-free makeup, and honestly I haven’t had the best answer. As you know, I continue to use the products that I already had before I began this project and generally only replace them with plastic-free alternatives once they are used up. But after reading about lead in lipstick and other unhealthy chemicals two years ago, I checked out all the cosmetics I owned against Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database and ended up doing a huge purge of most of my makeup.

What I kept: one combo eye shadow/liner stick, two colored lip gloss sticks, and one twist blush. Pretty much everything else went to the Hazardous Waste facility. No kidding. And since I rarely wear makeup, except for when being photographed or on special occasions, these products, packaged in plastic, have lasted all this time.

Still, I worried about the ingredients in the makeup I had left. What we put on our skin is as important as what we eat. It all ends up inside our bodies. So during my eco-friendly spending spree a few weeks ago, I came across a shop in my neighborhood called 100% Pure selling personal care products and cosmetics that the company states are made without “synthetic chemicals, chemical preservatives, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, harsh detergents or any other unhealthy toxins.” What’s more, their makeup is colored with fruit pigments rather than synthetic dyes or minerals.

Awesome! Except at first glance, all I saw were plastic containers. Hmm… I thought. Pure on the inside. Not so pure on the outside. Still, I persevered, and found, at the back of the store, a few metal containers of lip color and blush.

100% Pure Makeup

Terrific. I can at least replace this less than healthy stuff:

Conventional makeup

However, once I got my purchase home, I realized my mistake. The lip color container was lined on the inside with plastic that I had been unable to see in the store:

Conventional makeup

I don’t know if the chemicals from the container can leach into my lip color, and I wear makeup so infrequently that it probably doesn’t matter. But, as we know, plastic has other impacts, especially once it enters the environment as waste. And is the metal from the tube actually recyclable if lined with the stuff? I doubt it. (We do have a metal recycler where I can take it — in case FPF regular Radical Garbageman is reading this post and ready to pounce on the fact that  a little tube like this probably wouldn’t get recycled in a mixed stream recycling program anyway. But that’s a post for another day.)

What’s more, I do realize that there are lip gloss alternatives that come in plastic-free pots. But I just don’t like the idea of sticking my germy fingers into them and then touching my mouth. I have a hard enough time remembering to wash my hands as often as is recommended, which is probably why I get sick so often. (Like right now. I’ve had a cold since Sunday morning that I probably picked up in Disneyland.)

The blush container, however, does seem to be made from all metal and glass:

Conventional makeup

So, being me and not one to quietly accept the status quo, I wrote to 100% Pure to ask about their packaging choices and was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from CEO Ric Kostick almost immediately:

from Ric Kostick
to Fake Plastic Fish
date Thu, Dec 3, 2009 at 11:10 AM
subject Fw: Natural cosmetics in synthetic packaging

Hi Beth, Thank you for the letter! I LOVE your passion!

YES! This is one of our company-wide initiatives for 2010 is to move toward more sustainable packaging. We have lotions launching in biodegradable tubes, we are also testing paper packaging. We constantly put pressure on our supplier factories to invest in these technologies…I totally agree that we need alternatives to plastic, there is too much plastic in the world and all the phthalates (and probably other chemicals) are not good for our bodies, nor are they good for the animals!! We are PASSIONATE about helping animals!

We’ll keep you updated as we roll out our eco-friendly packaging.

Keep up your mission!

Very Best,

Ric Kostick, CEO
Purity Cosmetics
100% PURE

And a few days later, I received another email from Brand Ambassador Melanie Isett adding to Ric’s message that the company is

in the active process of sourcing new packaging for new items that we are planning to launch this March/April. Until recently, there was very little innovation and few resources available in eco-friendly packaging that was high quality (without leakage issues) and durable to last through the use-up life of the product. Fortunately due to demand, there are now quality resources emerging in eco-friendly packaging. We plan to integrate this packaging into our line with new products and look to transition our existing assortment over time.

And a few days after that, Melanie followed up with information about what the company is doing to reduce waste right now:

  • We use pre-cycled packing materials – we pick up popcorn, peanuts, bubble wrap, boxes, etc. from nearby businesses and we reuse the packing materials that was sent to them
  • When we do buy packing material, we only buy post recycled and reyclable / biodegradable materials
  • 100% Pure products are packaged in post recycled plastic and glass and printed with biodegradable soy ink [I didn’t see the glass containers.  I’ll have to check that out the next time I’m in the store.]
  • And I am work from home, full-time which is super eco-friendly!

I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of packaging the company comes up with and reporting on it in the future. My suggestion: If you’re using toxic cosmetics, want to make the switch sooner, and can’t find plastic-free alternatives, go ahead and try 100% Pure. Otherwise, wait until the Spring when there are more choices for eco-friendly packaging. In the meantime, do check out their web site. It’s pretty cool.

Now, I’d love to hear what sustainable cosmetics you have found and even whether you feel the need to enhance your face in the first place.

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Etsy handmade and vintage

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12 years ago

Just wanted to suggest the makeup line RMS Beauty for their non-toxic ingredients and plastic-free packaging.

Their products are all packaged in glass jars with a metal lid, and wrapped in a paper box. The ingredients are listed on the Skin Deep database, and every product receives an overall score of 2 or less.

I’ve been using the Un Cover-up concealer and Lip2Cheek cream blush/lip stain regularly for a couple months now, and I really like the dewy finish both provide to my complexion. The line is created by a makeup artist, so the color selection is modern and easy-to-wear. In addition to the concealer and blush, there is a cream eyeshadow, lip balm, highlighting cream, and lip gloss. The best part is that you don’t need tools to apply this makeup. The formulations are all designed to be applied and blended with your fingertips.

I highly recommend!

Kim from Milwaukee
13 years ago

Darryl, thanks for that tip about using a metal box… it!

13 years ago

I’m so excited that you reviewed these. If you have any other good ideas about makeup, let me know!

13 years ago


13 years ago

Beth you can use a lip brush for your gloss — i have one that is retractable and all metal.

13 years ago

I’m a little late to this party, but I just saw this post.

The packaging that comes with most make-up can be pretty daunting to me, let alone the crazy chemicals.

One place that I’ve ended up liking a lot is Lush. They don’t do a lot of blush and mascara type products, but they do make several other beauty products and have made a commitment to reducing packaging.

They do package many of their liquid products in plastic pots, but they take them back for re-use. If you turn in 10 you get a free product.

Also, they sell soaps, bubble bars, massage bars (which I like to use as lotion) and some other dry products with no packaging at all. I usually bring my own muslin drawstring bag to carry these products home.

I will say that you do have to watch the ingredient list. They disclose all of their ingredients and sometimes I find stuff I would rather not use or put on my body. But at least with full disclosure I can make that decision.

Lush isn’t technically “cosmetics” but I still think it fits in the theme of the above post.

I’m not really big on wearing much in the way of cosmetics, except when I’m feeling dressy, so I don’t have a good place to get better packaging choices, but I saw some good stuff in comments and in your post I may have to try out the next time the mood strikes :-)

13 years ago

I’m not worried about chemicals at all. I am worried about the island of plastic in the ocean, beach waste, plastic entering the food chain and killing animals, etc. I am def. not a chemical alarmist. You can go to MAC and buy refills. These are the little metal pans of eyeshadow/blush/powder, whatevs that go into a compact. Rather than sticking them into a MAC brand plastic container, you can create your own palattes using a metal container. Just buy whatever size metal container works for you and your products, glue magnets to the bottom of the pans and you have plastic-free, eco-friendly, animal-friendly, quality makeup.

I wear makeup every so often bc it’s fun. I love my Amy Winehouse eyes when I am out and about. I don’t feel any societal/partner/professional pressure to wear makeup. I used to never wear makeup or shave my legs or do a host of other things bc I thought those things were economic ways to oppress women. I guess I lightened up or unpacked my logic behind those actions and realized I had bigger feminist fights to fight than if my eyeliner contributes to misogyny.

13 years ago

Hi Beth–
I love that you look into all the details and post them. It makes a lot of things easier for me. Not to be a total mooch, but I can’t wait until you reveal where you take your excess metal scrap that doesn’t meet the mixed stream recycling criteria.

13 years ago

I loved these products until I looked them up on It’s a little scary when you read their reviews. GoodGuide vs. EWG…. who to believe…? ?? I just want to make sure I’m being safe and healthy for my body.

Tiffany Bjorlie
13 years ago

After a year or so of not wearing any cosmetics I had a break down and scoured ewg’s skin deep database and came up with 100% Pure, Rejuva and Coastal Classics as having pretty clean ingredients. I have been the most impressed by and happy with my 100% Pure purchases… I love the mascara, shimmery lip gloss, and Tahitian eye shadow cream. Not only are they clean (chemically speaking) they are also fairly subtly so I think they would be great for teens.

13 years ago

Ladies, let’s say no to make-up altogether! Why do you think you need this stuff? Aren’t we beautiful the way God made us? Why buy into the cosmetics industries BS? Set yourselves free, say no to ALL make-up!

13 years ago

I think the Skin Deep database is a great resource but I just ran across Vaseline products and petroleum jelly has a rating of 0. I would think smearing petroleum products on your skin would be dangerous. Can anyone give me some insight into this? Makes me question the authority of this database.

13 years ago

I’ve been using Physician’s Formula Natural Origin Pressed Powder because the packaging is relatively minimal and because I thought “organic” implied that it was free of chemicals. But I just looked it up on SkinDeep, and– well– I won’t be using it any more :/

And, Beth, as for why I feel the need to enhance my face in the first place…
sometimes I don’t. On the other hand, sometimes I do. It probably comes down to general social pressures and personal insecurities (perhaps the latter are encouraged by the former).

On days that I go to school without makeup (when I choose not to wear any, not when I wake up too late to apply), I feel independent, individual, pure– like I’ve triumphed over all of the Disney cartoons and Cover Girl commercials. But like some others have commented, there is a palpable difference in the way people react to you, with vs. without makeup. Some one commented that you can feel clean but you don’t need to see it. Maybe my biggest makeup reason is that I do need to see it; I am what they call “a visual person,” and I look in the mirror many times per day. But, even if I put masking tape over the little mirror in my sun visor, threw out my compact, and ignored classroom windows as I walked by, there would still be all of the people– the talking mirrors.

Elizabeth B
13 years ago

I’m happy that Physicians Formula is making 100 mineral makeup that uses waaaaay less packaging than most other brands. Sadly, with the exception of a couple of Burt’s Bees products, a couple of KMF products, and one handmade lip balm, the only skincare and makeup products I’ve found that *don’t* irritate my skin are full of icky chemicals. Maybe I should look into changing my diet to see if that helps.

13 years ago

Heh heh – ejwm ~ I am an engineer too and I realized early on that *unfortunately* it seemed that I was afforded more credibility if I didn’t wear makeup!
However, I am in a management position now and I am finding now that I am better received if I wear some natural makeup.
Anyways – thanks Beth and others for posting some natural makeup companies. I was stressing about what I was going to do because I am looking to replace some items that I have. I’ll check out those companies!

13 years ago

Thanks Beth for answering the cosmetics question, which I and many others commented on the last post. And Amanda, cool recommendation on the mascara in a tin! I’m all for supporting the Etsy sellers.

13 years ago

LOl Being one of the guys- I can’t say I have never worn makeup, but don’t do it because no matter what I do, guyliner, manscara- I look like a cheap Judy Garland -Drag Queen who has been rode hard and put away wet. I do once in awahile use cover up because I have blemishes that only I see.

13 years ago

I sold Arbonne for about two seconds before I realized I just am not a salesperson, but their products really are high quality, and I love them, but can’t quite afford them right now with the whole college thing going on. Here’s a link to their “green commitment”– And here’s one for their ingredient policy–

13 years ago

I have found a lot of natural cosmetics makers at who use plastic free packaging. My favorite is mascara that comes in a tin box!

13 years ago

I’m torn. I work in a pretty male dominated field (engineering), and sometimes I think my inner little girl just needs to have sparkles on her eyelids, even if it’s only once a year and nobody notices all day. However I’m about as lazy as they come, and cheap too, so I’ve only got one eyeliner I bought five years ago in a fit of “I am Woman – watch me GLITTER” and one that my sister gave me about ten years ago that is terribly practical – no sparkle :(. They’re both past expiry, and no where near used up.

I lived in a village in Mali for a few years in Peace Corps – makeup melted, got eaten by bugs, and cost too much when you could find it. I took a little hand held mirror that I never used – I went months without seeing my reflection. It wasn’t that bad. Clean you can feel, you don’t need to see. (I also covered my hair every day, a cultural convenience I really liked).

I’ll probably never buy any more makeup, but… I like knowing that if I want, I can make my outer sparkle match my inner sparkle. Just knowing I can makes me happy, and won’t result in additional damage to my body or the environment. It’s already in my possession, why not feel a little good about it? It’ll last the rest of my life at this rate, and hopefully that’s a pretty long time.

13 years ago

I fret about my daughters and their makeup, Do fruit pigments come in BLACK?

13 years ago

Chapstick and moisturizer are musts in New England winters. But otherwise I go without cosmetics. Although when I was a teenager I used to love painting my nails funky colors. I’m sure those nail polishes had terrible chemicals in them. I think a few of my mom’s really old ones still have the solvent toluene in them. :-|