• Beauty

Inside L’Oréal’s Sustainable Beauty Bar

A look at how a global beauty brand is harnessing the challenges of eco-conscious beauty

In partnership with L’Oreal 

By Felicity Bonello

From beauty and beyond, consumers are seeking sustainable alternatives across industries. In fact, 74 per cent of Australian consumers say they feel better about brands that are committed to introducing changes to achieve mindful environmental outcomes. Certainly, for the beauty industry – and global brands like L’Oréal – implementing change throughout the entire supply chain is non-negotiable.

When you consider the beauty industry has until now generated up to 120 billion units of plastics packaging per year and contributed to the loss of 18 million acres of forest annually, lowering beauty’s environmental impact, including carbon production, water waste and energy consumption is the only way forward. As consumers we want to actively get behind brands that have our future firmly in mind. But how do we know who’s doing what in beauty?

Curious about innovation

Deeply curious as to how a global player in the beauty space is tackling the principles of sustainability and how brands plan to educate and take the consumer on the journey, Green + Simple recently attended L’Oréal’s inaugural Sustainability Beauty Bar. An immersive beauty experience, this exclusive event highlighted the ‘best practice’ research and innovation driving L’Oréal’s dedicated sustainability journey. 

With over thirty-two brands available nationwide, this event included L’Oréal’s most sustainable brands and products, across the skincare, sun protection, haircare, makeup, and fragrance categories. Underpinned by education and connection, guests were treated to bespoke, one-on-one consultations with L’Oréal’s acclaimed skincare professionals, makeup artists, and hair stylists. This showcase of environmentally conscious brands, speaks volumes for each individual brand. But when united, it’s notably impressive.

L'Oreal beauty brands

There are 32 brands available in Australia under the L’Oreal banner, with huge potential for influence in the realm of sustainable beauty

“We’re seeing a rise in green beauty, and that’s great because that’s what the consumer wants and what the planet needs. When we’re talking about beauty that cares for people, and the planet, we want to be part of that, but we don’t want to mislead the consumer into thinking something’s sustainable if it’s not. (The Sustainable Beauty Bar) is designed to reintroduce people to our L’Oréal brands, showing us as a collective,” explains Keira Flynn, Sustainability Manager, L’Oréal Australia.

“We have so many different touch points and different sustainability profiles, and together it’s really powerful.”

Incremental change

It really was profound viewing the number of sustainability initiatives L’Oréal has woven throughout its brand offering under the one roof. Take Garnier for example. Currently, 65 per cent of ingredients used by Garnier are bio-based or derived from abundant minerals, and the brand is on-track to reach its 95 per cent bio-based goal by 2025.  By 2025, Garnier is striving for zero virgin plastic use, and 100 per cent recyclable or reusable packaging – an initiative that will save 40M+ kilos of virgin plastic. And that’s just one of L’Oréal’s brands. 

Head over to heritage brand Kiehl’s and you’ll find that 98 per cent of their products are formulated with a renewable ingredient that can be replenished or regrown. Additionally, the raw ingredients sourced by Kiehl’s support farming practices in over 600 communities worldwide; and 80 per cent of Kiehl’s packaging is made from post-consumer recycled materials.

Meanwhile Lancôme is implementing regenerative agricultural practices throughout their supply chain. Dedicated to championing the preservation of biodiversity, 70 per cent of the ingredients in Lancôme skincare formulas are biodegradable to alleviate the impact on natural resources. 

And together with Armani Beauty and YSL, Lancôme currently utilise refillable, reusable containers (worth noting: visit David Jones and Myer for your next Armani My Way EDP Refillable, YSL Pure Shots Refillable and Lancôme Absolute Soft Cream Refillable) which is positively impacting the full production process. 

“When it comes to refillable and rechargeable packaging, we’ve got to consider the entire value chain,” explains Flynn.

“And this initiative supports a holistic view of that chain. Because we’re not manufacturing as much product packaging there’s reduced CO2, water, and waste in associated with manufacturing; it reduces global shipping, which is an enormous additional CO2 emission saving especially when you’re a global big corporate company, and finally our consumers don’t have to purchase new packaging every time. When you think about it holistically there’s a real saving there across the entire value chain.” 

More than sustainable beauty

Interestingly, the group’s sustainability initiatives go beyond the environment. 

“When people consider sustainability with L’Oréal, the misconception is that we’re just focusing on the environment. Sustainability for us is both environmental and societal – they go hand in hand,” explains Flynn. And it’s more than just talk. 

While YSL Beauty is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its product formulas by sourcing more raw materials in a responsible and sustainable way, their method is having a social impact within the production process too. At the foot of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, you will find the Ourika Community Gardens created by YSL Beauty. The gardens harness solar power and employ farming techniques that avoid chemicals, while promoting plant and animal diversity. A community of local Berber women tend to the gardens, with the aim of providing these women with access to empowering training opportunities so that they can become more financially independent. 

Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. And the good news is that for those among us trying to make eco-conscious beauty purchases, from budget to luxe, there’s an ever-growing number of sustainable options to choose from. And we haven’t even touched on sustainable hair care initiatives yet! 

Naturally, as with change there will always be challenges, and as they arise, the L’Oréal Group plan to give back beyond the business and help to address some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges the world faces along the way. 

And that’s a journey worth taking consumers on. 


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Felicity from Green + Simple was treated to a makeover from Jason Branigan, Artistry Manager for YSL Beauty and Armani Beauty. 


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