Makeup can be a great tool – it’s empowering, it provides an outlet for creativity, it makes for a good self-care ritual, and it’s fun to play with. But unfortunately it also leads to a lot of waste.

“We became increasingly conscious of the complicated custom packaging that makes these products exciting and desirable. It’s pretty much all plastic, and almost impossible to recycle,” Emily Perrett, co-founder of Sydney-based Flavedo & Albedo, tells Broadsheet.

She saw that for all the effort being taken with reusable coffee cups, tote bags at the supermarket and avoiding fast fashion, the beauty industry was getting a pass when it came to sustainable packaging (or lack thereof).

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“There’s a lot of great stuff being done with formulas, but there aren’t many with plastic-free packaging,” she continues. “And none of them were products that got us excited … makeup is fun, we didn’t want to strip the joy out of it.”

Flavedo & Albedo is a bold new makeup company by Perrett, Aleks Allen and Toby Norris – creatives who’ve previously worked in design, branding and advertising before branching out into cosmetics.

The brand launched in November last year, trading in bright colours, dreamy formulas and zero plastic packaging. Its products are mostly multi-use, allowing you to do more with less.

The Dew Tint is a hydrating cream that acts as both lipstick and blush in three versatile shades, while the High Glow highlighter has an iridescent finish that melts into your face or eyelids, without any chunky glitter.

There are also five high-pigment cream-to-powder Velvet Eyeshadows that can be built up or blended out, and used either wet or dry. It comes in three metallic shades (cool bronze, rose quartz and berry bronze) plus two mattes hues (hazelnut and sky blue).

Finally, the Bright Stripe eyeliner features a soft, wax-based pencil in a waterproof formula and bright shades, including lavender, chinotto (a brick red), gold, white and classic black.

“Makeup for us isn’t about correcting or concealing. It’s about being creative and is an extension of your personal style,” Perrett says.

All Flavedo & Albedo’s products are cruelty-free, and most are vegan (the Velvet Eyeshadow in sky blue is the only exception). Shades, formula and packaging are designed in Sydney and manufactured in Italy.

The packaging is made with a combination of aluminum, glass, sustainable timber, and Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper stock. But coming up with the alternatives wasn’t an easy task.

“The best example is our highlighter. The formulation needs to be airtight, so we had to find something to replace the plastic that normally lines metal lids to keep them tight,” Perrett says. “We wound up using cork. It’s the plastic you forget about or don’t even really see that can make things tricky.”

While Flavedo & Albedo is a small step forward for plastic-free makeup, Perrett knows the industry still has a long way to go.

“Hopefully 2021 is the year that sustainability comes for beauty. Consumers demanding more from brands will see more time and money put into innovation, and more effort made to solve the industry-wide packaging problem,” she says.

“We’re just concentrating on developing one product at a time, and making sure that people can say yes to makeup and no to plastic without compromise.”

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