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By Afterglow Founder Kristin Adams

Bamboo cosmetic containers have become really popular lately.  The suggestion often comes up that I should consider using bamboo cosmetic containers instead of the recyclable plastics we currently use. While I really do appreciate the sentiment, and the intent behind the request, it simultaneously makes me cringe.

When I look at bamboo packaged cosmetics, I often see a big fat lie and a consumer public that still doesn’t see the green washing marketing tactics of cosmetic companies jumping on a green bandwagon their actual product formulas could never stand up to.

The two most ironic parts about bamboo packaged cosmetics are:

1. Bamboo packaged cosmetics are often much less easily recycled due to the glue that holds the bamboo onto the actual plastic container as shown below and makes recycling virtually impossible.

2. The actual cosmetic product inside bamboo packaged cosmetics is no indicator of how ‘natural’ the product is.

Yes. You heard it. Bamboo cosmetic containers are actually plastic containers covered in an additional layer of bamboo to give you a “green” appearance. Furthermore, the bamboo packaging may also be a marketer’s way of overcompensating for a less-than-natural formula.

With few exceptions, all cosmetics need to be filled into containers that are airtight and will not be porous enough to leach or introduce bacteria into the product. This makes glass, plastic, and metal ideal containers for cosmetics. You cannot safely hollow out and pour mascara, lotion, or any other creamy or liquid cosmetic into a bamboo container.

Can bamboo be used to simply decorate a consumer product? Yes. Using bamboo can be beautiful. In my observation, the use of bamboo on cosmetic containers is no indication that the product inside is in any way natural.

Always read the ingredients, regardless of the woodsy packaging. Even if you aren’t a chemist, look for the following ingredients as dead giveaways that the bamboo lined product you love isn’t as natural as you think it is.

  • Butylene Glycol
  • D&C dyes
  • FD&C dyes
  • Lake dyes
  • Nylon
  • Paraben
  • PEG/ PPG
  • Polybutene
  • Propylene Glycol

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