Glitter Not Litter: Submission’s New Paradigm for Clean Cosmetics

With the motto “glitter not litter,” 100% plastic-free beauty brand Submission recently launched with a line of biodegradable and plant-based glitters. Normally, such products are nothing more than microplastic, which is not only harmful to the environment (studies show that even three years on, biodegradable plastics fail to fully disintegrate), but also our health, due to not being FDA-approved for use on eyes or lips. Made from eucalyptus tree-derived cellulose for its iridescent effect, Submission’s products are completely body safe, 40% softer than plastic glitter, and earned the highest independent certification for biodegradability worldwide. Three years in the making, the tin, glass, and clay coated newsback packaging is completely recyclable too.

Aside from the product and packaging, Submission also ships orders in recycled, recyclable, and biodegradable materials. The brand practices complete transparency by deconstructing its approach in an accessible way on its website, and shines a new spotlight on the plastics that leak from the packaging into the products that we put on our body. Submission is as bold about its ecological mission as its striking visuals, proclaiming that “plastic is poison” and even having an aptly titled Shit List on its site that illustrates all the harmful chemicals in beauty products today.

The beauty industry’s annual plastic waste footprint is comprised of 120 billion units, 79% of which end up in landfills, so it’s undoubtedly time for a change. In her research process, Submission founder Zenia Jaeger discovered that while many biodegradable options seem like a dream fit, there are issues with processing them. “At this point we are producing so much biodegradable materials that we have nowhere to put it. There’s no specific bins for consumers to put it in and an insufficient amount of facilities in the US to break it all down. The idea is beautiful but we don’t have the infrastructure to fix it yet,” she states.

Sustainability had always played an important role in Zenia’s life, but even more so after she became a mother. Aware of the possibilities of absorption of phthalates into the human body, she sought to find high-end makeup that didn’t come in plastic packaging, only to discover there was none available. After Zenia, originally from Denmark, moved to the US and realized the vast differences in cosmetic regulations, she became even more passionate about creating plastic-free beauty. “Why is nobody talking about this? The beauty industry is greenwashing so much because everybody is talking about what’s inside the container, and I’m like, ‘Who gives a fuck, if it comes in a plastic container it’s toxins going into you and it’s killing the environment,'” she says. “This is the void we need to talk about.”

Jaeger has straddled the worlds of publishing and makeup artistry in the indie and conglomerate realms for over two decades, both as beauty director at Office magazine and as a makeup artist, working as an ambassador for the likes of YSL Beauty. Therefore, Submission is not only a product line, but also a global editorial platform. Articles include the link between the fossil fuel industry and single-use plastics, plus interviews with individuals ranging from Eco Justice Project founder Lauren Ritchie to beauty creative Urgalsal and adult film star Abella Danger, demonstrating the vastness of the Submission universe. It’s fully democratic in nature, with readers able to submit their own pieces for the platform. From proposing a new standard of beauty—one of completely independent creative expression regardless of gender, ethnicity, or age—to putting the environment first, as well as letting readers send in their own articles for publication, Submission gives its name a 360-degree meaning.

“I really want to elevate sustainable brands because I couldn’t find one that spoke to my aesthetic and style while still doing good for our bodies and environment. I wanted Submission to be something that looks beautiful but, at the same time, you are buying into a community and part of something that actually makes a difference,” Jaeger explains. With a self-proclaimed “classic elevated raver” style that marries minimalism with impactful color, her creation proves that clean formulations and packaging needn’t take the fun and creative potential out of color cosmetics. It’s also indicative of an exciting aesthetic departure from the meticulous and dizzyingly complex perfection that has reigned supreme for the last several years. “Those little mistakes have so much beauty in them. As a makeup artist, it’s a goal for me to take something that we would regard as ugly and make it look pretty,” she enthuses.

Next up on the list? Not one, but four launches within the next year: matte and shiny multi-functional balms, as well as a highlighter and bronzer, all in clean cream formulas for extra ease in application. “A lot of us want to make a change, but as a consumer, it’s hard to make the right choice because people are lying to us and not giving us the right options,” Jaeger explains. “I didn’t create a makeup brand just to make money. I did it because I want to show that all these options are here. It’s a company’s choice, you can be a good capitalist.”

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