Su Tuttle and Alex Grima founded Foile in 2020 with a vision for a refillable beauty brand aimed at reducing the massive waste of the more than $500 billion beauty industry.

“We wanted low-key, high-quality skincare that was clean and refillable,” says Grima. “The refillable element was a core focus from the get-go as the cosmetics industry is built on high consumption products, and this was our best solution to shift the waste created as a result.”

The pair opened a cute store in Sydney’s Bondi where customers could fill sleek glass bottles and tubs with 14 different oils, salts and clay – where the vessels that house them are as important as the products themselves.

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“Design was a really huge part for us,” says Grima. “It seemed crucial that if we wished to foster the longevity of the bottle, we needed to create a tactile connection for the consumer to a quality of the product.”

The initial response from consumers, though, was not what they were expecting. “To be honest, there was a bit of confusion,” Grima tells Broadsheet. “We are fed a dialogue in the industry that more is more, so customers were asking ‘where does this sit in my routine? Is this really enough?’ The [beauty] industry can be confusing to navigate, and Su and I didn’t start Foile speaking the skincare language very well ourselves, so our journey has been humbling and insightful, but has also shaped the way we make skincare.”

The result is a new three-piece range of Foile Formulas, comprising a cleanser, a serum and a moisturiser. The products – which contain active ingredients and plant-based botanicals free from parabens, sulfates, fragrances, and are made with non-palm-derived ingredients – are designed to offer consumers a skincare routine to complement the Foile Classics range. That consists of four lightweight oil-based products for body and face: hemp, jojoba, marula and coconut. Refills start at $29.

“Our vision was to create natural skincare with visible results and also give our customers access to a full-step skincare routine that was entirely refillable,” says Tuttle.

The Foile store has now closed and the duo has shifted to a purely online model in order to connect with a wider customer base. “While making the decision to close was heart-breaking, we knew it would allow us the space and opportunity to grow the business in the direction we had always envisioned,” says Tuttle. “It has allowed us to really dive into product development, refine our refill process and expand our online community. Accessibility and convenience is key when it comes to the refillable model working and our customers can have their refills delivered directly to their home.”

Grima says consumers are now embracing Foile’s circular beauty model as part of a broader move to sustainability and accountability within the industry. “Consumers are the biggest part of this shift – and brands are responding,” she says. “Refillable initially started with pantry dry goods and cleaning products and it has now crept into a multi-billion-dollar industry. We are looking forward to it becoming the status quo and admire the brands making the shift because it isn’t easy.”