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Bybi: A socially conscious millennial beauty brand that's clean, vegan, and sustainable without compromising on quality

Bybi: A socially conscious millennial beauty brand that's clean, vegan, and sustainable without compromising on quality

A world of good

Text: Emily Heng


Image: Instagram | @thingtesting

Our hearts might skip a beat whenever the FedEx delivery man is at the door with an armload of beauty goodies, but that excitement is often dampened when we see how much packaging goes into the bin, recycling or otherwise. Take cult beauty label, Glossier Play — they envelope their products with cardboard boxes before stuffing them in candy-pink bubble wrap. Cellophane, tissue paper, and boxes often accompany skincare purchases too, and let's not forget the many plastic receptacles housing the actual formulation either. Is it any wonder that the industry often faces countless accusations of eco-destruction?

It's not all bad news. Beauty bigwigs Lush and Kiehl's, for instance, are taking active strides towards sustainability. The former introduced a zero packaging initiative, while the latter has implemented an empties recycle program. Is it enough? No, but it's a step in the right direction, one that UK-based label, Bybi, has already surpassed in leaps and bounds.

"The sustainable aspect of Bybi has always been top of mind," explain founders Elsa Rutterford and Dominika Minarovic. "It's definitely become more and more important to both us and to the Bybi customer as the brand grows. Becase we are hugely passionate about it as individuals and as business people, it is now considered to be the core pillar of Bybi values." They mean business: 97% percent of Bybi packaging is recyclable; their ingredient selection is conscientious; and they embrace 'green chemistry', a philosophy which ensures zero abuse of biodiversity, non-renewable resources, and the communities involved in their production. It's a tall order — but it's also one that the brand has been aceing so far. We pick their brains to find out more, delving deep into all things green, clean, and the team behind the dream.

First thing's first, what does Bybi mean?
It all started in 2015 with Clean Beauty Insiders, our natural beauty blog in which we published DIY recipes, product reviews, and industry news. We took the leap and founded our own brand, Bybi, in February 2017. Bybi stands for By Beauty Insiders.

Neat. How did you transition from content creation to producing your own clean beauty line?
Building our clean beauty blog before starting Bybi gave us time to immerse ourselves in the market and really understand where the gaps were. For us, after trying many other natural skincare brands and also making our own products, we felt that there was a clear gap for a beauty brand that upheld great ethics around sustainability and ingredients, but also one that was marketed in a way that spoke to a mainstream beauty consumer.

Is being clean the key distinguisher between Bybi and other skincare brands out there?
We're different because we make ethical, effective skincare that doesn't cost the Earth and has the ability to transform your skin. We're about sustainability, affordability, and great performance. Plus, our products also look cute on your bathroom shelf. [Laughs]

Bybi is clean, vegan, and eco-friendly. Have your core values ever restricted you from creating or developing certain products?
Whilst yes, there are less ingredients to choose from than say a non-natural brand would have, it does not restrict at all in terms of product development. There's a huge range of natural ingredients available and with more innovation and green chemistry coming through, the library is only ever growing. We may have to be a little more creative, but that is no bad thing!

We are deeply conscientious of all of the ingredients that we use in our products. We assess all ingredients using The Bybi Green Score — a system we developed that grades a material on a number of different factors, e.g. biodegradability and renewability, and assigns a score to each raw material. The lower the number, the more eco an ingredient is. All formulations must achieve a certain target green score before they can be produced. We are constantly looking at the latest science — what may have once been sustainable, may no longer be, and The Green Score has been built to be a fluid model to reflect that.

Let's talk about your sustainable packaging.
Bybi's packaging has really developed and grown. It was always vital that our packaging looked and felt good, to reflect the high quality of the product inside. Sustainability-wise, we print directly onto glass for all products that can be packaged in glass as glass is infinitely recyclable. We use a plant-based ink that does not affect the material's ability to be recycled, and the omittance of sticky plastic labels on our bottles also makes it much easier for the consumer to recycle.

For products that cannot be packaged in glass (balms and scrubs for example), we use a bio-plastic material derived from biodegradable sugarcane. It can be recycled or composted at an industrial composting facility. The production of this material is also carbon neutral. Our gift sets and Bybi Bundles (customisable skincare sets) are housed in reusable pouches made from paper, cotton, and metal. The only piece of plastic is a 2mm zip stopper, but including the zip on the pouch was important to encourage less waste — consumers are more likely to reuse them as a makeup bag or even clutch bag, rather than throwing them away if they were less practical.

On the whole, 97% of our packaging is recyclable, 3% is not. This includes Mega Mist's pump and the rubber part of the dropper used for our products such as Bakuchiol. We're working to get as close to 100% as possible.

What is the most challenging part in developing Bybi?
When it comes to packaging, sourcing eco materials can be challenging, as the supply isn't readily available yet. We also need to re-educate consumers on beauty packaging expectations and why some make better eco choices. For example, we used a cap instead of a pump for our oil cleanser, Swipe Clean. This wouldn't be the norm, but a plastic cap can be fully recycled and it uses far less plastic than your average pump.

Thoughts on the future of skincare?
'Clean' and 'sustainable' beauty is proving to be more than just a trend. They are movements that are very much driven by consumer demand for better, which is contributing to clean and eco beauty becoming the norm, not the exception. Just from listening to our community, we've found that people seek out clean and sustainable beauty products for a diverse range of reasons. From not being able to understand their ingredients labels, to experiencing problems with their skin or becoming aware of excessive packaging. On our website, we clearly list every ingredient used and recycling instructions for each product is clearly listed on the product page. We also have a Values page that explains in detail our approach to formulation and packaging. Larger corporations have also taken note and developed cleaner products packaged using recycled materials, whereas beauty destinations such as Sephora now have dedicated clean beauty sections, highlighting its importance to the modern market.

Which products would you recommend for your Singaporean consumers?
Mega Mist is ideal for the Singapore climate. It's a light, refreshing, and cooling toner made with hyaluronic acid and floral waters. It's suitable for all skin types and leaves skin plump, balanced, and dewy.

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