This Zero Waste Mascara Is Endlessly Refillable

You can bequeath the stainless steel tube to your grandchildren.

Izzy zero waste mascara
Zero waste mascara in a stainless steel tube.

Izzy Zero Waste Beauty

Zero waste mascara is finally here and you're going to love it. Created by a New York-based company called Izzy Zero Waste Beauty, this luscious black mascara comes in a stainless steel tube that you send back for cleaning and refilling once finished. It represents a major design breakthrough for a product that has seen relatively little innovation compared to other cosmetics and makes life easier for anyone trying to embrace a zero waste beauty routine.

Izzy's founder Shannon Goldberg is a beauty industry veteran. She grew tired of the non-recyclable plastic that she saw everywhere, telling reporters in a virtual press conference: "In the beauty business, plastic is ubiquitous. It is everywhere."

But she was uncomfortable with placing the blame on people and telling them to become better recyclers. That shouldn't be their job: "It really is up to us, the people behind brands, to drive that change and make it easier for customers to navigate." 

Getting away from plastic in mascara is almost impossible unless you want to make your own formula, which some particularly dedicated zero-wasters do. Goldberg wasn't drawn to using post-consumer recycled plastic either since it can only be recycled a finite number of times before it gets landfilled. Even where refillable models do exist, the customer still buys a primary component and swaps out plastic refills, which doesn't address the root problem of waste.

So Goldberg developed her own zero waste mascara using a refillable, American-made, military-grade stainless steel tube that can withstand up to ten thousand cycles. This makes it, potentially, a multi-generational tool. As she told reporters, "The Izzy mascara you hold today could be handed down to your grandchildren years from now. That's how long it's meant to last."

This mascara contains 94% less plastic than other mascaras. The only plastic can be found in the wiper and the wand, but these are ground down, melted, and reformed with each cycle. The brush itself is called a "High Fidelity Wave Brush," essentially a "spiralized double helix with a dip," Goldberg said. A self-professed lover of glamorous mascara, she said it offers the smooth, single-step application that everyone wants but rarely gets with voluminous formulas. 

Izzy Zero Waste QR code
QR code lasered onto the bottom of a mascara tube. Izzy Zero Waste Beauty

There are no plastic labels anywhere. "COVID made QR codes cool again," Goldberg joked, so these are lasered onto the bottom of each stainless steel tube for easy access to Izzy's website and detailed product information.

All in all, Izzy has a 242% lower carbon footprint than two comparable leading prestige mascara brands and has been certified as 100% carbon neutral by the Carbon Neutral Protocol, the leading global framework for carbon neutrality. Izzy is the first beauty brand to attain such status. This ranking is boosted further by the fact that its entire supply chain exists within a 400-mile radius.

As for the formula, which is vegan and cruelty-free, Goldberg said it took 14 versions to perfect it, but now "it really does stack up to traditional mascaras." One of the main ingredients is jasmine wax, which emits a lovely aroma as soon as you pull the wand out of the tube and helps to condition your lashes, and holds a curl all day. 

There are several ways to purchase Izzy's mascara—which, we should warn you, is not cheap. A one-time purchase is $39 (on par with high-end mascaras at Sephora), but Goldberg hopes people subscribe to the membership experience. You can either pay $32 for a quarterly membership upfront, with an additional $19 fee for each cleaning and refill or buy an annual membership for $85. When you do this, a fresh tube arrives in the mail every three months with a return label for you to send back your old one. 

Mascara, Goldberg explained, should be changed out every three months to reduce bacterial buildup, which enters every time you expose the wand to air. "In a COVID world, people are paying more attention to germs and the number of times they touch their faces," said Goldberg. "Swapping out regularly allows your pot to stay fresh."

Izzy mascara and mailer
Izzy mascara and reusable mailer. Izzy Zero Waste Beauty

Eventually, Izzy hopes to become a refill-only brand, having produced all the stainless steel tubes that it needs to support its membership base. Then its carbon footprint will shrink even more and that, Goldberg said, is decarbonization.

"We're already carbon neutral, but it just gets tighter because we don't have to keep producing new tubes," she said. "This product will be dancing between our cleaner and our formula and back to fulfillment, and our carbon footprint will shrink to about an hour of production time." 

Izzy plans to offer additional products down the road, such as brow, lip, and cheek products, but the focus will always be on staples, rather than trends. In Goldberg's words: "They have to be the things that you're willing to wear day in and day out, and the formulas have to be great in order for you to actually subscribe to them. So Izzy will branch out, always keeping zero waste and a sense of minimalism in mind, but it's not going to be a huge brand; it's only going to be what you need."

The fact that Izzy chose to debut with mascara is impressive. It's arguably the most difficult product to innovate from a packaging perspective, and other items will seem easy in comparison. While the price tag isn't exactly budget-friendly, it will likely appeal to a select audience of well-heeled, eco-minded shoppers who like both the convenience of a subscription model and the concept of reusability.

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