The idea all started when Melodie Reynolds, founder and CEO of Elate Beauty purchased a lipstick that once unwrapped left her with a heap of garbage. It was at that moment she knew she had to help make a change in the beauty industry.
“We are all inundated with images and ads that shame us into overconsumption of cosmetic products; these products come in wasteful packaging,” Reynolds, a beauty veteran, tells me. “I knew that I could make a difference. Elate was born in 2014 in my basement, and we have grown to 25 team members and 250 partners worldwide.” With the help of her partner, they invested their entire life savings to create a beauty brand that’s the most sustainable in the world.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Canadian-based brand, Elate Beauty is an ethical cosmetics and skincare company that weaves sustainability in everything they do—especially their packaging. “We create high-performing, beautifully designed products to help you simplify your daily rituals to reduce waste,” states Reynolds. “We are unique in the clean beauty space because we focus on the user experience with a sustainability lens. We know that if the product is highly effective and a pleasure to use, the customers will continue to use it, which is the goal with reusable packaging.”
When I ask Reynolds what makes her brand different than many of the other clean beauty brands available in the market she tells me, “Elate’s main point of difference is that we look at absolutely every part of our supply chain to confirm that we are sustainable in every way. If we have to make a choice between an organic ingredient and one that is safe for workers and our customers we will always choose the latter.” She goes on to tell me that ‘organic’ doesn’t always equate to better. “One of the things we found is that many organic farms have to sacrifice worker safety and worker wages in order to maintain their organic certification. We always put people and the planet first. We look at the sustainability of the agriculture of the ingredients and weigh that off against the potential benefits for the skin.”
With makeup coming into such close contact with incredibly sensitive areas of our bodies like our skin, mouths, and eyes I asked Reynolds how they select ingredients for their products. “When formulating, we focus on the benefits of all ingredients going into the product. For instance, our mascara has white tea extract with helps strengthen lashes. Our Better Balms have rosehip oil which is a powerful antioxidant for the health of your lips,” she tells me. “Anything we apply to our eye or lip area can enter the body, so it also needs to be safe, allergen-friendly, and have a supply chain that pays all its workers fairly and doesn’t put undue stress on the environment.” The brand uses a list compiled by the European Union that established chemical safety standards and calls out ingredients they feel shouldn’t be in cosmetics. These standards are also what the brand bases their definition of ‘clean’ on.
“Clean to us means no person, place or animal was harmed in the production of that ingredient, and only provides benefit to the skin once made into our products,” explains Reynolds. “For instance all of our ingredients need to be vegan and have to be cruelty-free, when we were choosing a hyaluronic acid to put into our prep skin primer we had the opportunity to utilize marshmallow root as the base of the hyaluronic acid however that source was not as sustainable as having it made synthetically in a lab. We Source our ingredients with help from a few trusted suppliers that we have vetted with our supplier mandate. As a B Corp certified company it is so important to us to do businesses with like-minded companies. We have a vetting process including a survey and site visits if possible, to ensure that our ingredients will fit in with our clean and sustainable mandate.”
On March 23rd, Elate launches three of their newest skincare products that help support the skin and leave it the perfect canvas for your cosmetics including a face oil, a primer, and an eye makeup remover. “The Replenish beauty oil provides healthy radiance. We often don’t hydrate our skin enough before we put on our makeup, which leads to uneven application and dryness or flakiness,” explains Reynolds. “The Refine primer creates a natural matte finish and helps your makeup stay all day, and the Revive remover balm is a waterless formula that removes makeup and cares for your eye area. Think of it like lip balm but for your eyes!” I love the primer. It not only reduces oil, but sweat too and the eye makeup remover works efficiently and does not irritate my sensitive eyes.
With the lofty and admirable goal of becoming the most sustainable beauty brand in the world, I wanted to know how Reynolds defined the term and learn a little more about how that philosophy is put into practice at her company and where the brand is headed.
“To me sustainability is all about responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to ensure that we do not deplete the world of resources,” states Reynolds. “We need to take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of the product we make and to be thoughtful. To be curious about how we can do better. Just as the arc of history bends toward justice, I believe the arc of the economy bends toward sustainability. It’s good for the world and good business. We weave sustainability into everything we do at Elate. In the life cycle of our products, the way that we employ our team members and how we show up in our community.” Reynolds also tells me that the corporate office measures all of their waste with an eye always on reduction and has regular employee-led initiatives on how waste can be reduced within the community.
When it comes to choosing retail partners, Elate looks for companies with similar values. “We choose retail partners that are like-minded and we are all striving to reduce our footprint with things like our shipping and packaging,” she tells me. “We want our packaging to be not only sustainable but also durable so it becomes an asset to our customer. The fewer packages we have to produce the more sustainable we can become, and the easier it becomes for our customers to be more sustainable as well. We measure this in how much waste we have produced, versus how much waste we have diverted. We utilize the B Corp framework to measure our success.”
Elate’s current packaging is made from bamboo, which is sustainable in some ways but doesn’t meet the brand’s sustainability mandate moving forward. “Even though we’re diverting plastic packages from the landfill, some of our bamboo will eventually end up there as well,” states Reynolds. “We discovered this through much research and after a long design phase we are now in the prototyping phase of a truly sustainable and durable Bento Box style palette. This will be the last palette you will ever need to purchase and will help us towards our goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable beauty company. In addition to this palette we are also working on a refillable mascara tube. Although there are a few refillable tubes on the market this will be revolutionary, and our hope is that we will inspire other companies to do better and create refillables to help solve the problem of waste in the beauty industry.”
Elate acknowledges that sustainability is not a destination—it’s a journey and one that takes some trial and error along the way. Reynolds continues, “We recognize that our journey is a perfectly imperfect one. We are all about continuous improvement and looking towards the future, and we are so grateful to our community for joining us in creating a better beauty industry.”