Innovation That Matters

Urth's sliding lipstick comes with a refillable dispenser made up of only five components | Photo source Urth

Lipstick made from algae comes in refillable, biodegradable packaging

Fashion & Beauty

A student-led beauty brand has launched a refillable sliding lipstick with sleek, biodegradable packaging

Spotted: The beauty and personal care market is constantly growing. Whilst the industry attempts to be more sustainable, single-use plastics continue to be produced, filling up landfills. With the awareness that the beauty industry is a significant pollutant, San Diego-based sustainable beauty brand Urth has launched a refillable sliding lipstick with sleek, biodegradable packaging.  

The brand was created by a team of students aiming to re-design the packaging for reduced environmental impact. The team consisted of Hah Kyoung Kim, Osbaldo D. Alvarez, and Andi Li.  

“A small lipstick, with the conventional design we are used to, will never be recycled in the current industrial world,” the Art Centre students behind Urth have said. They also mentioned that because of their small size, recycling processes are often dismissed and can thus be more harmful to the environment than large bulk items that are mostly treated at the end of their life cycle. 

Urth’s sliding lipstick comes with a refillable dispenser made up of only five components. The dispenser can be easily disposed of in an at-home compost bin, degrading only after 12 weeks. The packaging is also biodegradable as it is made from thermoplastic algae. For this, Urth collaborated with a research team at UC San Diego’s Center for Renewable Materials who developed the thermoplastic algae. The material is durable and requires minimal fossil fuels and greenhouse gases to create. 

As for the lipstick itself, Algae was also central as the Urth team experimented with the carotenoids in microalgae to create vivid pigments. At present, 40 per cent of the formula is derived from petroleum. However, the team said to Core77, that it will be possible to create the lipstick with up to 98 per cent renewable content in the next 2 to 3 years. 

The environment first approach also considers shipping, with the aim to use electric trucks and algae paper envelopes for delivery. 

Written By: Katrina Lane

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