The insights of La Saponaria

Zero waste cosmetics and shampoos: plastic-free cosmetics

If we do nothing, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea: addressing the climate issue and the environmental impact of our choices becomes a priority for each of us. Zero waste and plastic-free cosmetics are born in the cosmetic field: a possible solution? Let's see it together!

In this article we will talk about plastic free and zero waste cosmetics. Here are the topics we will cover:

Zero waste and plastic-free cosmetics

A cleaner world, without pollution, a more sustainable way of living, without weighing on our planet but respecting life in all its forms. Isn't this the dream of all of us? In recent years, the dream of a few ecologists has become a priority for many and peaceful demonstrations have seen thousands of people pour into squares around the world to ask their governments for urgent interventions in the environmental field.

Above all, it is the new generations who are sensitive to the problem, a generation which historically has an uncertain future in many respects, but which does not intend to give up on this point! In this panorama of strong awareness, the world of cosmetics has not stood idly by.

The Italian cosmetic industry has a huge impact on the world market and is trying to contribute to change: now it is no longer just the small cosmetic houses like La Saponaria, which have always been attentive to the environment, who are paying attention to packaging. Where there is demand and interest, large producers also arrive.

The turning point is truly epochal because it is not just a question of changing production, but of modifying and transforming the habits of each of us, in favor of a world without plastic.

The trend of zero waste cosmetics has not only spread among the youngest, but also among the over 50 generations. A survey has highlighted how 56% of women in this age group prefer to buy a cosmetic which, in addition to being good for her it is also for the environment, because it is not only a more rewarding experience, but also a gesture of protection towards the future of their children and the planet in which they will have to live.

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The impact of solid cosmetics on the environment

From an environmental point of view, solid cosmetics are very advantageous because:

  • They allow for zero waste packaging, without the use of plastic bottles. In this regard, not only naked products sold by weight, such as soaps, are considered zero waste, but also those contained in more sustainable materials for the planet, such as easily disposable and recyclable paper, glass made from natural elements and always recyclable, and aluminum.

  • They are waterless, therefore less prone to deterioration: in many cases, we can exclude the use of preservatives.

  • They weigh less than liquid equivalents and take up less space: they are more convenient to carry while traveling, at the pool, or at the gym. We won't risk the shampoo spilling inside the toiletry bag. Being so compact has a significant impact on transportation. With a truck full of solid shampoos, you can wash your hair as many times as with 15 trucks of liquid shampoos.

  • They are concentrated products, therefore lasting longer: often, one bar of solid shampoo equals two bottles of traditional liquid shampoo or one bottle of concentrated liquid shampoo. When purchasing a solid product, we should also consider this in terms of cost: we are likely saving a lot by having a product with a longer lifespan.

  • The formulas are increasingly effective, and solid products have nothing to envy to their liquid counterparts. However, pay attention to the ingredients they are formulated with! We will discuss this in the next paragraph.

Natural and plastic-free formulas: watch out for the ingredients

So are zero waste cosmetics increasingly advantageous from an environmental point of view? To answer this question we need to consider the beauty footprint, i.e. the imprint that the cosmetic product leaves on the planet from its production and packaging production, right up to its use and disposal.

A zero waste cosmetic cannot be considered more sustainable just because it has a low environmental impact wrapper: even the formula must be free of pollutants and its production and origin must be sustainable!

While until a few years ago attention in the cosmetic field was mainly on the ingredients of which a formula was composed (in this article we are talking about INCI) and what was sought were cosmetics that did not pollute the environment and with well-tolerated and compatible ingredients with leather, now it seems that all the attention goes to the packaging and one almost no longer wonders how the products are formulated: the important thing is that they don't have a plastic container.

Instead, we must ask ourselves: if the solid cosmetic has much higher production costs and the residues that end up in the drain are much more polluting than the liquid equivalent, where is the ecological saving? In the wake of greenwashing, some companies have improvised in the production of solid cosmetics that have nothing ecological about them, and present us with "natural" ingredients that until recently no one imagined seeing in an innovative formula.

It is not enough for us that the packaging is zero waste or plastic free: we will never give up environmentally friendly formulas, ethical and sustainable supply chains, virtuous ingredients from organic farming, in a broader ethical conception of respect for ourselves and for the planet. And this for us is the basis of all our actions, it is in our founding philosophy.

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Plastic-free solid cosmetics from La Saponaria

Producing zero waste cosmetics means eliminating packaging and plastic packaging, reviewing the formulas and opting for products that are no longer liquid but solid, such as shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and detergents that do not need plastic packaging to be contained (see here 👉 all our solid and plastic free cosmetics!)

How solid cosmetics are made

Solid cosmetics have the exact same action as their liquid counterparts. There are mainly two ways in which they can be obtained:

  • saponification: obtained like a normal soap, through the saponification reaction. The solid detergents obtained in this way have, like soaps, a slightly basic pH (such as Flaxseed solid Shampoo).

  • compaction of the ingredients: all the ingredients are dehydrated and compacted, in this way a pH very similar to the respective liquid detergents is maintained (such as the solid shampoos and conditioners of the Inner Line).


Once touched with water, these solid products have the same creaminess and the same conditioning action as a normal shampoo or liquid shower gel and maintain the same fragrance which, on the contrary, is perhaps more intense and pleasant.

How to use solid cosmetics

They are used like normal bars of soap: you can foam the solid shampoos in your hands or directly on your hair and massage as usual. To find out more about solid shampoos, you can read our article How to use solid shampoo and why it is better than liquid ones.

Small and structured, they are perfect for travelling, you can put them in your hand luggage without space problems (and without being stopped at customs!). For a perfect travel beauty it can be very useful to bring a solid cosmetics holder, where you can store your shampoo and solid conditioner in an ideal way.

The only extra precaution that solid cosmetics need compared to those in bottles is to remember to keep them away from water and on surfaces that allow them to dry in the air, on soap dishes that allow water to drain, such as example this in ceramic.

Solid cosmetics: not just solid shampoo

When it comes to solid cosmetics, we often start with shampoo, because all those who want to make a zero waste choice start right here! And with good reason: finding your ideal shampoo bar is a big step towards helping the environment! In recent years, however, we have found many other alternatives, valid and simple to use, such as:

  • Solid conditioners: For years they fell short of their liquid counterparts, but now the search has continued. Those who tried solid conditioners a few years ago complained of the difficulty of using them because solid conditioners were very compact and difficult to dissolve, too hard and not very effective on hair. Now things have changed. We at La Saponaria have been working on it for years and are very proud of our Forza and Disciplina solid conditioners, which can be used with ease. You can lather your hands or pass the pats directly through your hair, as you prefer: they dissolve easily and many prefer their formulas to the traditional liquid ones, not only because of their zero waste packaging but also for the wonderful results they get on the hair. own hair!


  • Solid face cleansers: also in this case, as in the case of shampoos, face cleansers can be obtained by saponification or by compacting the ingredients. Facial cleansers made by saponification will have a slightly basic pH and therefore may burn your eyes. Apart from this, however, they have the undeniable advantage of being able to use more sustainable raw materials, with a shorter and more controlled supply chain. For example, to create them we can use extra virgin olive oil, as in the case of the No Stress Solid Soothing Face Cleanser or the Bye Bye Impurity Solid Purifying Face Cleanser! The bad reputation that soap has for washing the face derives above all from the use in the past of poor quality soaps, created with terrible surfactants. If skilfully formulated, facial cleansers obtained by saponification can be unparalleled in terms of environmental sustainability, in a discourse that is not limited to packaging but which thinks of respect for the environment at 360°

  • Solid body cleansers: we've all known soaps forever. Why have people stopped using them to wash their hands or body in the shower over time? Probably for the reason we mentioned earlier: there have been years when cheap soaps formulated with aggressive surfactants have created, and not without reason, the bad reputation of soap bars. How many times have we heard "I don't use soap because it dries my skin?" It's not the soap itself that dries out the skin, it's the ingredients it's made of that make the difference. We feel a bit like masters in this field, we started right from soap, it was our first love, we even wrote a book about it and we have a secret: extra virgin olive oil at the base of all our beloved soaps it is for food use. We, in our canteen here in the laboratory, use it to dress our salads! It's not a joke! With this we are not telling you that our soaps can be eaten, but if you have broken with soap in the past, you can try to give it a new chance and rediscover delicate detergents, capable of nourishing the skin and making it velvety like and more than detergents liquids. Find here our extra virgin olive oil soaps.


  • Solid scrubs or zero waste: in this case the scrub can be contained in solid soaps, as in the case, for example, of our almond and ginger shower soap, whose scrubbing effect is given by the micronized shell of the almonds, or like the our Poppy and cypress soap, in this case the exfoliating effect is given by poppy seeds. However, there are also other zero waste formulas, very concentrated but not solid, such as in the case of our Nice to Meet You which is a face and hand scrub and mousse. The formula is highly concentrated and is contained in a jar in PLA that can be used in wet products, so a very small amount is therefore enough each time to be applied on a wet face: it transforms into a soft mousse that is extremely comfortable and suitable for gently exfoliating the face and hands.

  • Solid, super concentrated and zero waste face masks: here we enter the field of Waterless Beauty. In other words, we are not faced with cosmetics that are totally water-free, as in the case of solids, but with literally "less water". By removing the water, the formula becomes more concentrated and does not need bulky and demanding plastic bottles as in the case of our No Stress, Bye Bye Impurità and Forever Young face masks, all contained in recycled paper boxes and recyclable PLA jars in the wet. Being very concentrated, they are used on a wet face and a small amount is enough each time.

  • Solid make-up remover butters: butter lends itself well to being solid, but easy to melt in contact with the skin. Make-up remover butter like Hip Hip Butter! it is therefore an excellent alternative to classic make-up removers. Also in this case the formula will be concentrated, very little is needed and on a wet face it becomes a cream capable of dissolving all types of make-up, even waterproof ones.

  • Solid body creams: they look like scented cakes that melt on contact with the skin. They lend themselves very well to be used for massages, they are very rich and nutritious and naturally concentrated! Our colorful solid creams allow us to take care of the skin while respecting the environment and eliminating superfluous packaging. They have a small format but this does not mean little product: an 80ml solid cream is equivalent in quantity and duration to a traditional 250ml body cream. There are 5 different types: Pink Moon, illuminating and elasticizing, Keep calm, emollient and soothing, Everest, post-sport and relaxing, Up!. toning and draining, Coccola, enveloping and nourishing.


  • Solid deodorants: in reality they have always existed! They are the famous stick deodorants! But in this case the evolution is that they don't need a disposable wrapper! In fact, Biodeo Solids can also be used alone, or inserted into rechargeable applicators that we can then reuse indefinitely. Biodeo Solidi are therefore compact, zero waste and plastic free deodorants: they are contained in FSC recycled paper boxes. The best news? They work great and have a long lasting action! The prebiotics present in the formula naturally fight bad smells by rebalancing the microbiome and preserving the good bacterial flora. For an effective and super comfortable action, without clogging the pores! They do not contain aluminum salts, alcohol or silicones and are in 4 different flavors and colours: Cotton Cloud, neutral, dermatologically tested and Nickel Tested, ideal for all super sensitive skins and for those looking for a solution without bicarbonate, Himalaya, fresh and mentholated, ideal for those who sweat a lot and for all men, Summer Crush, with a tropical flavour, ideal for those who have particularly acidic sweat such as teenagers, Sweet Hug, dermatologically tested for sensitive skin and perfect for those seeking pampering even after shaving . (All Biodeos can be used post-epilation, but this one is just perfect!)


Powdered cosmetics

And who doesn't love solids and just can't do without liquid textures? There is a zero waste and plastic free solution in this case as well: powdered cosmetics to rehydrate! It is an innovative concept of cosmetics with super powers at the service of sustainability!

The line is called Eco-Pow(d)er and contains shower gel, shampoo and hand soap powder to rehydrate, formulated with natural ingredients that take care of skin, hair and our wonderful planet! And why are Eco powders so revolutionary? Because every time you use a sachet of Eco-Pow(d)er you avoid a disposable plastic bottle! By adding simple water, the formulas rehydrate and become shampoo, shower gel and liquid hand soaps with an even more virtuous and sustainable history than traditional ones! Here's how it works:


Our powder cosmetics do not need plastic packaging, thus reducing the production of CO2 and avoiding the dispersion of plastic material in the environment.

The special powder formulas are formulated with 99% less water than a traditional product. This means that during transport a sachet of eco-powder weighs less and takes up less space than a traditional bottle, thus saving a lot of C02!

Did you know that on average a lorry travels 1000km and that to absorb the C02 of a single journey you need about 6 trees and 1 whole year of time?

By reducing weight and volume, we are able to transport greater quantities in fewer trips: transport is an aspect that is almost never considered but from an environmental point of view it has an extremely significant impact!


Let's free the planet from plastic!

Every year the tons of plastic produced in the world are more and more: more plastic produced unfortunately also means more plastic dispersed in the environment and a study by Greenpeace released in 2020 showed that 100% of baby turtles have traces of plastic in their stomach. We need to reverse this trend.

What can we do? Avoiding plastic and choosing solid cosmetics or cosmetics contained in other more sustainable materials such as glass and aluminium, which are infinitely recyclable, or paper is a very important first step, but this is not enough.

What will we do with all the plastic already used and perhaps dispersed into the environment? We must create a virtuous cycle of recovery and recycling. So what we can do is choose products in recycled plastic or, even better, re-bottle recycled plastic, or post-consumer recycled plastic. In fact, recycled plastic often comes from industrial waste, while re-bottle plastic originates from the separate collection that we all do. The more this material is requested, the more we will be encouraged to reuse plastic, avoiding dispersing it in the environment or leaving it to accumulate in landfills.

Another extremely interesting material that we use to package our products is sea plastic.
That is, a plastic collected at sea, cleaned, differentiated, processed and made available for use again!

Solid cosmetics are the first step towards a plastic-free world but not the only one to take. For a truly significant action we must choose cosmetics with no impact from the point of view of the formula, and we must also turn our attention to the recycling of materials. All together, we will make it: everyone in their own small way can make a difference.

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