Even if you’re not super in tune with the beauty industry, you probably already know that it has a serious packaging problem. All you need to do is roam the aisles at your local drugstore or big box shop to see the rows upon rows of plastic bottles. From hair care and skin care to makeup and nails, the options are limited (but luckily growing) when it comes to fully sustainable products. And as a beauty editor, I constantly wrestle with the fact that my job is to test dozens of these items, most of which are housed in (often non-recyclable) plastic containers. So when the new body care brand, Plus, came across my WFH desk and promised not only sustainable packaging for its debut body wash, but a just-add-water packet that completely dissolves in the shower, my interest was understandably piqued.
For context, the EPA found that the US generates 14.5 million tons of plastic packaging and containers per year (a value from 2018 that is steadily increasing), and 42.1 billion bottles are used to ship products containing over 70% water (per Plus brand literature) every single year. Translation? That’s a lot of plastic. And since #3, 4, 6, and 7 plastics aren’t even recyclable, that means that the bulk of your personal care products are going to end up in landfills. While programs like Terracycle and buy-back initiatives from brands do help, the fact remains that for the average consumer, the pool of environmentally friendly product options is limited. Co-founders Julie Schott and Brian Bordainick (the people behind popular acne care brand, Starface) and co-founder and CEO, Cathryn Woodruff, set out to offer a new, aesthetically-pleasing, solution to that problem.
“Bottled body wash can contain up to 90% water (with only a small percentage of active ingredients), and personal care and beauty products account for 1/3 of all landfill waste,” says Schott of her choice to expand into an entirely new beauty category. “Shipping so many single-use bottles and water weight around just doesn’t add up. With acne products containing active ingredients, waterless and bottle-less formats aren’t always feasible, but we really wanted to tackle this problem in an innovative way that doesn’t compromise on a high-quality product experience. Body care was the clear first step.”
In keeping with Starface’s commitment to sensitive skin-friendly formulas, Plus Body Wash is full of nourishing, gentle ingredients like aloe leaf, sweet almond oil, shea butter, and ferulic acid — all of which are dehydrated before being housed in the solo-use, wood pulp packet. (And don’t worry, the wood pulp is harvested from responsibly managed FSC forests). You also won’t find any SLS or SLES surfactants, which give a product that sudsy, foamy effect, but can potentially trigger allergies or skin irritation.
Says Woodroof, “There were many iterations to land the formula in this dehydrated format. Once we were ready to bring Plus to life, we enlisted engineers with PhDs in material science and chemists to help develop the technology, process, and formulation in under a year.”
Naturally, I was eager to test out the body wash for myself and see if the formula could stand toe-to-toe with my favorite cleansers. My skin is on the drier side, but I can’t help but love a foamy lather during my morning shower — as advised by the founders, I kept my loofa nearby to help strengthen the suds. With dry hands (the packaging stresses this, so you don’t dissolve the packaging too early) I ripped open the single serving packet of the unscented CLOUD variety (it also comes in two other scents, SUMMER and WAVES) and siphoned the powder mix into my palm. Beauty lovers will equate it to an exfoliating powder that you add water to in order to activate.
Then it was time to get clean.
Despite the lack of sulfates, I was actually surprised by the lather I was able to achieve with the dehydrated formula, but a loofa or sponge would definitely help you if you’re used to that application. It felt soft and creamy, never stripping, and when I was done with the shower I didn’t feel the need to apply my moisturizer in under ten seconds (or risk shriveling up like a lizard). I do, however, wish that the serving size was a bit bigger — I’m 5’9 and I felt like I couldn’t cover everything between my neck and toes with just one packet, so I grabbed a second and got to work. Not the biggest deal, but if you’re parceling out your 16-sheet package for a few weeks, you’d obviously run out twice as fast.
The best part, however — at least for a beauty nerd like me — was dropping the pastel yellow packet onto the drain and watching it dissolve before my eyes. No rinsing of my empty plastic bottles, no separating my recycling and hoping it all makes it to the correct facility — just one-and-done washing with zero guilt (or unnecessary waste). Plus is especially ideal for travel, once that’s a regular part of our lives again, but in the meantime, I’ll happily make space in my shower for a gentle, environmentally friendly cleanse.
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