In Collaboration with Mr Porter
Words by Ms Molly Isabella Smith
From plastic packaging to toxic ingredients, the grooming industry (like all industries) is guilty of a multitude of environmental sins. When it comes to picking your next shampoo, moisturiser or shaving cream, the most sustainable option is simply to go without. But, while this will leave your conscience spotlessly clean, the same can’t be said for your body and hair. Long ago, when we all clubbed together and decided to co-exist in society, we tacitly signed a contract – that we would bathe ourselves on a regular basis so as not to offend our fellow humans’ senses. There’s no shame in having to shave for work or, indeed, out of a desire to look your best. Our goal with this eco-conscious grooming edit, then, is not to bring residual guilt about consumption or vanity to the surface, but rather to suggest a handful of more planet-friendly alternatives to products you already use. Because, contrary to what a certain frog might tell you, it is easy being green.
The Palm Oil-Free Shampoo
“Born of the city” brand Doers of London is one of the newer additions to MR PORTER’s grooming fold and has been approved by the Vegan Society and certified cruelty-free. Along with a no-nonsense approach to beautification, its aim is to promote the powerful benefits of natural ingredients in a market still dominated by synthetic ones. Take its It Starts at the Top Shampoo, for example. Traditional shampoos use sodium lauryl sulphate – a perfectly safe, but drying foaming agent usually derived from unsustainable palm oil – to slough off dirt. This label uses a hydrating coconut-oil alternative as well as a moisture-boosting blend of wheat proteins, evening primrose oil and antioxidant-rich sage, nettle and calendula extracts. Plus, we can readily confirm the brand’s claim that it “leaves hair deeply sniffable”, thanks to an invigorating nose of bitter orange, frankincense and clary sage.
The Natural Deodorant
Even if you didn’t quite follow what your science teacher was going on about, most of us are old enough to remember being taught about aerosol-inflicted damage to the ozone layer. That’s because aerosols once contained scary-sounding chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (or CFCs), which were identified as harmful in the 1970s and banned in the 1990s. Thanks to the ban, the ozone layer is on track to be completely repaired by 2060, according to a report inThe Guardian. But there are still all sorts of nasties hidden in traditional antiperspirant deodorants, namely the vague catch-all ‘fragrance’, which can contain toxic (and unlisted) ingredients, alcohol, which dries the skin, and aluminium, which is considered the main culprit when it comes to those yellow shirt stains. Malin + Goetz’s vegan-friendly Eucalyptus Deodorant, on the other hand, contains none of these. “The clear stick formula works with the body to naturally fight odour, while the eucalyptus scent leaves you feeling fresh,” the brand’s founders Messrs Andrew Goetz and Matthew Malin explain. If you find you’re slightly more, ahem, sweaty when you make the switch to a natural deodorant, the duo advises that this is entirely normal: “This is your body releasing built-up toxins. After this, your body will stabilise and you will perspire less.”
The Keep-Forever Razor
We won’t name or shame, but there are some members of the MR PORTER team who think a quick shave with a disposable razor in the shower cuts it – cuts being just one of the unfortunate side effects of this haphazard approach. Another is plastic pollution – the bulk material in single-use blades. According to the World Wildlife Fund, we’ve found ourselves in a sorry state in which eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the ocean every year. And that’s before you count the stuff sent to landfill. Investing in a high-quality, plastic-free safety razor, like this handsome chrome-plated model from German brand Mühle, is a much better option in the long-term, for both your wallet and the planet. Bonus points also go to its silvertip fibre brush. “It’s been specifically developed to emulate the properties of the best badger brushes and, as a vegan product, is much easier to care for,” the brand tells us.
The Botanical Skincare Kit
The general consensus is that Australia is ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable grooming alternatives, with the result that eco brands hailing from down under have been booming both at home and away. Natural skincare outfit Grown Alchemist is doing nothing to buck the trend. Founded in 2008 by brothers Messrs Jeremy and Keston Muijs, the label believes that using artificial ingredients is a recipe for disaster. “Our products work in synchronicity with the body, restoring skin function, detoxing the skin, then activating skin function using potent, natural ingredients,” the brand tells us. “The result is a product line that is 100 per cent compatible with your skin. We don’t participate in any one specific environmental initiative, but rather we have developed our line around a holistic, clean beauty ethos.” So, as well as using eco-friendly packaging, the label also omits what it describes as “environmentally problematic” ingredients such as parabens, polyethylene glycols and artificial dyes and fragrances, which can cause damage to grey water supplies once they’re washed down the drain. Keep the trio of goodies included in Grown Alchemist’s Amenity Kit – a delectable watermelon Lip Balm, super-soothing Hydra Repair Day Cream and nourishing Hand Cream – in your top drawer for guilt-free grooming at your desk.
The Hydrating Seaweed Cleanser
It’s often assumed that if you can’t pronounce the multisyllabic ingredients on the back of lotions and potions, you should steer clear. But we’ve discovered an exception to this rule: when the list is in Latin, like on Haeckels’ labels. This grooming brand, based in Margate, England, was founded in 2012 by volunteer beach warden and self-confessed “coastal enthusiast” Mr Dom Bridges, and uses an entirely botanical line-up withcarum petroselinum(that is, parsley seed oil),fucus vesiculosus(bladderwrack extract) androsmarinus officinalis(rosemary leaf oil) starring in the low-foaming Marine Facial Cleanser. It’s the brand’s signature ingredient that really packs a punch, though. Seaweed, which it claims is three times more hydrating than hyaluronic acid, is harvested by hand from the nearby beach before being blended into the label’s concoctions. The team is also heavily involved in community initiatives, organising beach clean-ups and operating a hygiene bank where personal care products can be donated to those in need.
The Plastic-Free Haircare Range
Another brand intent on tackling plastic pollution, Larry King is the debut range of haircare solutions from the eponymous London stylist who tends to Messrs David Gandy and David Beckham’s tresses. Armed with a “one small step, one giant leap” philosophy, the brand is committed to making its packaging more sustainable. “We think it’s about trying a little harder. Plastic is by far the easy option, but we’re just not convinced every piece of plastic is being recycled and we don’t want our packaging to still be floating round the earth for generations to come,” the label tells us. Instead, it opts for fully recyclable or reusable glass, aluminium and FSC-certified card, and something it characterises as a “Plan B” approach. “If they’re not recycled, what will happen to them? I’d much rather find an old shard of worn-down glass on the beach than a piece of 100-year-old plastic, that’s for sure,” Mr King says. “It’s a step in the right direction – not perfection, but a step closer.”
The Eco-Conscious Cologne
Smelling good is not a particularly lofty grooming goal, but if you’re concerned about your eco-cred, be careful before you spritz. Many traditional fragrances contain a potentially noxious blend of synthetic ingredients, often derived from petrochemicals, ie fossil fuels. And no doubt your science teacher shared their thoughts on those, too. Going without cologne is an option, sure, though hardly kind to your colleagues’ senses after an especially trying lunchtime gym session. Thankfully, then, there’s a new class of brands out there harnessing the scent appeal of natural ingredients without compromising on quality or longevity. Take Laboratory Perfumes. “All our practices and perfumes are formed in accordance with the same Hippocratic principle underpinning modern medicine: ‘First, do no harm,’” the team tells MR PORTER. “We don’t test on animals and our scents include essential and fragrant oils.” Hailing from Hampshire, England, the label goes to pains to offset its carbon footprint by keeping production close to home. “We demand the same ethical and environmental standards of everyone we work with,” it says. “Our supply chain is small, transparent and located entirely within the UK.” It helps, of course, that Laboratory Perfumes’ scents smell absolutely fantastic. Amber, the outfit’s inaugural eau de toilette, is fresh, grassy and spicy – and, to our noses, an instant classic.