Eco-desirability as a source of inspiration in beauty innovation

Eco-desirability as a source of inspiration in beauty innovation

Eva Lagarde

Looking at the beauty market and the appetite for sustainable solutions, consumers are still widely attracted by luxury and experience, primarily. Developing a good product for the planet is a requirement, but not at the expense of an enjoyable experience. Green, often tagged as less attractive, is now getting a makeover and as we are now getting further into sustainability 2.0, innovative solutions with desirable design are taking shape.

Essentia Beauty, a pioneer in smart and sustainable design has been developing refillable and intuitive designs for years. The italian started its journey towards luxury and refillable beauty, when the hype wasn’t there yet. In a recent interview we asked founder Katia de Martino her take on “eco-desirability”.

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Katia de Martino - Essentia Beauty

The product becomes an art object

re/sources: How do you approach a new creation? What matters to you?

Katia de Martino: We visualise the consumer experience, how the product is used and its life cycle.  Today what we realize is that we cannot really expect from consumer any compromise on aesthetics and functionality for sustainable purposes. Being aware of that we have to figure out innovative concepts that bring a value added to consumers while lowering the environment impact.

Very early on, we were convinced that refill would be one of the best sustainable solutions, Essentia released the refillable lipstick in 2016, and the smart-compact in 2017. It takes some foresight to develop a product that anticipates needs and arrives on the market at the right time. We started developing refillable makeup palettes and compacts for over 5 years - yet too early for their time, as the product didn’t pick as much - and are now running a fast race to answer every brand who wants to make the sustainable switch.

Smart, intuitive, yet exquisite designs

re/sources: Following this ethos, which products have you developed ?

Katia de Martino:  Thanks to over 20 years of experience in the design and manufacturing of cosmetics, Essential has a genuinely sustainable approach, rooted in a comprehensive global impact assessment considering packaging and formulas. 

This is what we have in mind by addressing the issue on traditional palettes, which once essential shades are used up, are often discarded before being finished . This causes both waste and frustration. To solve this, we came up with a functional refillable solution giving birth to the Smart Sliding Palette that both answers to consumers and brand’s needs. We aim to strike a balance between refill versatility and enhancing the allure of the packaging to encourage consumers to keep it. 

Our smart  sliding palette system feature : 

  • An dual refill capability with two inner compartments: one dedicated to frequently used colors, and the second for seasonal/trendy shades. 
  • A removable top that allows customers to select their preferred décor and to switch it out at will. 
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The Smart Palette, refillable and customisable with a patented sliding cover system. 

Concretely the consumer can select its preferred décor and switch at will like the cover of its phone. But the most important is that once essential shades are used up, he can refill only those thanks to dual inner compartments. For Brand, this means limiting refill to only those essential colors so less stock while keeping attractiveness thanks to regular seasonal trendy color launch . The pan represesent 7% of the plastic use in the palette so each refill will save 93 % of plastic consumption.

Moreover, we optimize the recyclability of all components :

  • The Palette is PET monomaterial including the mirrors thanks to an innovative technology. 
  • Each pan is in PET and have been designed to be filled with back injection process avoiding the use of the aluminium pan. 
  • The cover with high end decor can be removed avoiding issue related to the decoration

re/sources: customisation is an integral part of the luxury aspect of a beauty product. How do you ensure sustainability with a luxurious and customised design?

Katia de Martino:   Customization is more and more an expectations of consumers of the luxury sector. They lare looking for product that they can personalised according to their taste and mood. 

Coming back to the smart palette, giving the possibility to choose its cover out at will, as a phone protectors, it satisfy the consumer desire to change decoration without discarding the entire palette meaning to reduce 95% of the plastic waste. 

This strategy perfectly answers to both conscious consumers who want to get more than single-use products, and for brands willing to build loyalty.


Desirability is key

re/sources: you are convinced that desirability is key? How does that play our in your product development process?

Katia de Martino: Desirability is linked to the attractiveness of a product. If we integrate desirability with environmentally friendly solutions, it gives birth to the notion of eco-desirability. if we want to promote reuse and refill, the challenge is turning out packaging in object of desire.

This is why we believe that decor is key to enhance attractiveness and quality. So we team up with an industrial partner with an outstanding know how in decoration. The 3D effect and the texture feeling that is possible to reach is opening a new frontier of decoration that we call “Metmorphosis”.

Outstanding decor to improve desirability of packaging 

The technology does not require moulding, so it can be easily adapted to existing product ranges. It implies a combination of different decoration techniques and specific machinery  developped thanks to a 15 years know how of our partner.  The other big advantage is the flexibility on quantities from low MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) to scale up quantities. The lead time and cost will depend on the complexity of decor and the size of surface. 

Essentia -Metamorphosis