As I am a Style & Beauty Writer, it is not particularly surprising that I tend to watch a fair amount of beauty reviews from influencers, beauty gurus and other publications. They all have one thing in common, that is, the lavish nature of the PR Package gets bigger every time. Although, there is now discussion about how wasteful these packages are, with influencers criticising companies for the ostentatious and wasteful nature of their packaging. So, where do we go from here?
It’s simply not sustainable. Here’s one example: Jeffree Star reviewed the Beauty Blender Foundation back in 2018. Remember how the PR Package was a giant, and useless, beauty blender that held every foundation in the range? Star only needed a row of that foundation, at best. Then, when he sends those foundations back, that is more postage and packaging. All of that amounts to harming the environment. It’s a waste of resources. The majority of the shades were too dark for Star and the majority of the packaging was there to garner attention among other PR packages Star is given. It was quite the eyesore. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bit of PR packaging, but the Beauty Blender Foundation campaign was unnecessarily excessive. Star does point out these issues in the video. The point is clear: the industry needs to start changing how they hand out PR packages. A box can suffice. In these unboxing videos, the product wastage, even the packaging wastage, is undeniable. When you consider the amount of boxes one influencer receives on a daily basis, it adds up to a lot of recycled cardboard and wasted plastic. There are now some influencers who are cutting back on the amount of PR they receive, too.
As the tide turns, another trend has emerged, with anti-haul videos, project pans and declutter videos dominating beauty channels. All of these expose the excesses of the beauty industry. In another video by Star, viewers can watch him remove over $1,000,000 worth of makeup from his home. There are packages lining his doorway, with cosmetic companies sending them with just the hope of being mentioned, if not reviewed, on one of his social media platforms. These products then end up being unused, barely touched, passed on to friends or donated to charity. Then there is Tati Westbrook, in her unboxing videos, she sits in front of a stack of boxes. She creates piles for giveaways or products she wants to review, more importantly, she urges for less PR despite being given more and for PR to become more environmentally sustainable. Samantha Ravndahl, is another beauty blogger, who is urging for change. She is refusing to accept some packages, because while she is grateful for the opportunity, she wants to reduct the wastage. Many of these influencers showcase how they are bombarded with a plethora of boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, tissue paper and more.
Australian beauty influencer, Rowi Singh, featured her disappointment with brands sending her PR packages after she declined their offers. The case with Singh demonstrates another issue with how PR packages are unsustainable and it is how they are sent to influencers. The brands usually have a PR team ask influencers and beauty gurus whether they want to receive their product, which is both economically and environmentally sustainable, but they also enlist the help of private companies to send out these packages. These private companies do not have to message those who are receiving these packages and they adhere to a standard list. They are literally spamming people with PR packages. Singh received clothes she proclaimed she is never going to wear. But, the company has achieved what it has wanted, they have gotten a mention on the story of a prominent beauty influencer. In turn, creating waste through PR packages is a non-issue, all the brand needs to do is get their name and campaign in the minds of other users.
There are certain lessons to be taken from the issue of excessive PR packages, however. These brands should send products without flamboyant packaging, while they look phenomenal, they are too much fuss. Just put the product inside a package that is similar in size. There automatic send-outs need to be stopped or they need to become more refined, limited and selective when putting people on the list. You can ask if an influencer is happy to receive the PR package, but it does not help matters when there is an automated service to hand out these packages. The packaging also needs to be reduced to the bare minimum. Furthermore, it should be fully recyclable. It would also be better if these brands curated the items that were put into these PR packages specifically for the influencer.
There are some beauty brands that are beginning to listen to beauty gurus and influencers, in turn, they have started reducing their packaging. Influencers are beginning to receive just a few shades of certain products. For instance, with concealers and foundations, instead of receiving the entire range they receive shades that would work for their skin tone. The majority of these unused products are donated, but there are also those who simply throw out what they don’t need or can’t give away. I’m not endorsing that we should boycott all those PR packages and criticise all haul videos for existing, but these small changes can make a difference, and that’s a big step right now.