The 14 Best Volumizing Mascaras Are Basically Lash Extensions In A Tube

You don’t need to have expert false lash application skills to achieve a thick, long, dramatic lash look. The right volumizing mascara will do just that — no glue required. It will ensure your lashes are anything but subtle.

Plus, I have a quick application tip for you to help your lashes look as voluminous as possible. Before swiping the wand all the way through your lashes, start by wiggling the bristles into the base of your lashes and lightly stamping the mascara against your waterline. This simple step will help even the sparsest fringe look instantly fuller by filling in the gaps between your lashes. Afterward, you can proceed with your usual mascara application technique. Keep scrolling to discover 14 of the best volumizing mascaras to practice that tip with.

Maybelline New York The Falsies Lash Lift Mascara

This affordable thickening mascara left its mark on New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2020 at Christian Siriano, Jason Wu, and Naeem Khan, to name a few. Makeup artist Gato says he loves this washable formula for runway shows because it makes an impact but is easy to remove. 

$11 (Shop Now)

Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara

Los Angeles-based makeup artist Fiona Stiles has been a fan of Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara since it launched. The reason? “It’s a great mascara that gives lashes a full, fluffy effect,” she says. “I can always count on it not to clog up fake lashes when I apply it over them, which happens a lot with other mascaras.”

$29 (Shop Now)

Tarte Maneater Voluptuous Mascara

Allure’s digital beauty reporter Devon Abelman has lost track of how many tubes of Tarte Maneater Voluptuous Mascara she’s gone through. Because its formula veers on the drier side, quickly layer on the product for a luscious look that could easily be mistaken for lash extensions.

$23 (Shop Now)

CoverGirl Exhibitionist Mascara

CoverGirl makes some of the internet’s highest-rated drugstore mascaras, so it’s no shocker that the masses love the recently released Exhibitionist Mascara too. That hourglass-shaped brush is loaded with long, dense bristles, so one coat can go a long, long way.

$12 (Shop Now)

Wander Beauty Unlashed Volume & Curl Mascara

The Wander Beauty Unlashed Volume & Curl Mascara doesn’t just add drama to lashes, it also lengthens and helps them hold a curl. The versatile pick has won a Best of Beauty Award because you can add multiple layers without worrying about your lashes looking spidery.

$24 (Shop Now)

Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara

Lattes, facials, and gummies aren’t the only things spiked with CBD oil lately. The Milk Makeup Kush High Volume Mascara is too, and Los Angeles-based makeup artist Molly R. Stern is feeling it. “The brush is great and deposits a full lash every time,” she says.

$24 (Shop Now)

Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara

Los Angeles-based makeup artist Mai Quynh swears by the Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara for serious lash volume. “I love the formula because it gives lashes a fullness without making them clumpy,” she says. “Also, it’s not flaky and I really love the smell!” Yes, you read that right. This is one of the few mascaras that doesn’t smell like paint.

$32 (Shop Now)

Dior Diorshow Mascara

Professional makeup artists and Allure editors alike often find themselves reaching for the beloved Dior Diorshow Mascara. Stoj, an MUA based in New York City, prefers it for an extreme-volume effect. “This mascara is enriched with microfibers to give you the most voluminous lashes,” he says.

$30 (Shop Now)

Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara

As soon as you grace your lashes with the Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara, you’ll probably have the same reaction as New York City-based makeup artist Joseph Carrillo has every time he uses it: “It’s like wow, thicker, fuller, drama, sexy, sultry,” he says.

$32 (Shop Now)

Fenty Beauty Full Frontal Volume, Lift & Curl Mascara

Allure’s digital assistant beauty editor Angela Trakoshis only had to try Fenty’s Full Frontal Mascara one time to know she was in it for the long haul. Thanks to the drastically different bristles on either side of its brush, you can swipe on one thin layer of mascara for length, or coat it on until you’ve reached full-volume capacity. “It normally takes me four coats of mascara to get my desired lash, but thanks to Rihanna, it now only takes two,” Trakoshis says.

$24 (Shop Now)

CoverGirl The Super Sizer by LashBlast Mascara

This drugstore selection has won both a Best of Beauty Award and a Readers’ Choice Award for its glossy black formula and wand, which is decked out with supershort bristles that help fan out lashes. Be sure to twirl the wand as you sweep it through your lashes to take full advantage of its maximizing powers.

$6 (Shop Now)

Givenchy Noir Couture Volume Mascara

The first time New York City-based makeup artist Chiao-Li used Givenchy Noir Couture Volume Mascara, she was shocked: “It really makes your lashes look super voluminous and doesn’t clump at all,” she says. “It’s my absolute favorite whenever I want to create great volume without using false lashes.” She recommends layering it over a coat of Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara for a longer-lasting curl and over-the-top vibe.

$33 (Shop Now)

Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara

Just as its name suggests, Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara comes with a pretty beefy wand. Don’t be intimidated by its size. Allure’s digital deputy beauty director Sophia Panych believes it’s the key to nearly doubling the thickness of your lashes.

$25 (Shop Now)

Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara

If you’ve ever lusted after Emily Ratajkowski or Shay Mitchell’s lashes, chances are Los Angeles-based makeup artist Patrick Ta raked Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara through their fringes. “This is one of the blackest mascaras I’ve ever used,” he says. “If you are looking for intense definition, you have to give this a try!”

$26 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

The Best CBD Oil Brands to Buy in 2020

Have you noticed that cannabidiol, or CBD, has been blowing up your feeds lately? That’s because of changes in United States laws. Specifically, the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bill legislation ushered in a revival of hemp farming, research, and hemp-derived products, including oils containing hemp-derived CBD. As a result, CBD oil has exploded on the wellness market in the past couple of years, and consumers looking for natural approaches to support wellness have taken notice.

If you’re looking to try CBD oil but don’t know where to start, like myself, here’s a comprehensive guide.

HEALTH Magazine picks were made with the help of Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN, who is a medical advisor at Remedy Review, an independent CBD review site. All of the brands recommended here have been vetted through third-party lab testing for quality and safety. It’s also important to keep in mind that CBD products are not regulated by the FDA.

Before going any further, here are some common questions & answers of CBD confusion—the “ABCs of CBD,” if you will. 

What is CBD?

CBD is a phytocannabinoid, a unique compound found in the cannabisplant. Cannabinoids encompass a large family of plant-derived chemicals, including cannabis bioactives like CBD, THC, CBG, CBC, CBDA, and CBDV (to name a few of the 100+), as well as terpenoids and flavonoids. THC, the first cannabinoid ever discovered back in the 1940s, is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that induces a high. CBD has different actions in the body and does not provide a buzz.

CBD is an abundant cannabinoid in both hemp and marijuana, which are distinctly different varieties of the Cannabis sativa l. plant species. A major and important differentiator between the two is that federal statutes in the U.S. dictate that industrial hemp must contain less than 0.3% THC, or just trace amounts.

How does CBD work in the body?

CBD and other phytocannabinoids work through a complex signaling system known as the endocannabinoid system. We all have this vast, omnipresent biological framework in our bodies, but most of us have never heard of it.

Not discovered until the 1990s, the endocannabinoid system is the master regulatory system that mediates our physiological homeostasis, or balance. Research has revealed that cannabinoid receptors exist in most of the body. We’re talking about the brain, lungs, muscles, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive organs, cardiovascular system, immune system, spleen, liver, pancreas, bones, and skin—just to name a few areas.

This expansive footprint in the body explains why phytocannabinoids like CBD and THC, anecdotally and via research, have been reported to elicit wide-ranging health effects. Disruption in endocannabinoid tone (whether too high or low) is thought to have a negative impact on health and is linked to certain diseases. Indeed, targeted nutrition therapies like CBD oil phytocannabinoids from hemp can be leveraged to naturally support the endocannabinoid system.

What can CBD help me with?

A small but growing body of cannabinoid research points to CBD’s ability to positively modulate pain, anxiety, and sleep. These are the three areas with the most anecdotal support for CBD in health. 

But in addition to these more studied applications for CBD, people buy hemp products to help with their mood, control nausea and appetite, offset the symptoms of migraines, and, through topical applications, treat psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions.

All these health benefits of CBD have some backing in research—either through animal tests or more broadly in the study of cannabis with THC—but it’s important to keep in mind that there is no scientific consensus. CBD works differently for everyone. 

How do you take CBD?

CBD products come in many shapes and sizes. Along with oil, CBD gummies, capsules, and topicals are common delivery forms on the market.

CBD oil is most commonly delivered in a tincture format. To take CBD oil, place the desired dose into your mouth or under your tongue (which is thought to increase absorption amount and speed), holding it there for up to a minute. You can also mix CBD oil into food and drink.

Full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum vs. isolate: What’s the difference?

CBD oil products come in three different formats. Full-spectrum CBD oil incorporates all of the compounds present in the hemp plant, other cannabinoids (including no more than 0.3% THC), terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids. This full spectrum of hemp bioactives is closest to nature’s design of the plant. It is often discussed alongside the “entourage effect,” a theorized phenomenon that describes the potential synergy that a full array of hemp plant compounds (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) may provide. The entourage effect is beginning to be discussed in clinical research applications in, for example, mood and anxiety disorders.

Then there’s broad-spectrum CBD oil. By further distilling the hemp extract to remove traces of THC, broad-spectrum CBD products contain CBD, other cannabinoids that aren’t THC, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids. Often referred to as “THC-free,” broad-spectrum products are, simply put, full-spectrum minus the THC.

And finally, there’s CBD isolate. As the name implies, CBD isolate contains just concentrated CBD, with no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or essential fatty acids.

How is CBD dosage determined?

Clinical consensus is lacking on CBD dosing, but generally, the prudent approach is to start low and go slow. 

One rule of thumb is to take 1 to 6 mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight—so a 140-pound woman might take 14 to 84 mg of CBD. The amount and/or frequency of CBD can be increased over time or spread out through the day. 

Dosing for general wellness versus for sleep regulation or anxiety will vary. Anecdotally, CBD users often share that single, higher doses are useful for supporting sleep, while regular and lower doses are more helpful for combating everyday stress.

Can CBD oil be personalized?

Our unique genetics influence how we respond to all kinds of inputs, including the things we consume like food, supplements, and medications—and CBD oil is no exception.

In conjunction with your healthcare provider, the CBD approach can be flexed based on individual results. In the growing age of personalized medicine, healthcare practitioners have an exciting opportunity and unique ability to tailor therapies (including lifestyle strategies) to the individual patient to improve patient care.

How Experts Determined the Best CBD Oil Brands in 2020

To identify the best CBD oil companies, the scope was limited to brands using hemp grown in the U.S., where regulations for industrial hemp farming are in place. The transport of international hemp provides several opportunities for potential introduction of contaminants.

Next, independent third-party testing and transparency of lab results were paramount. Batch- and lot-specific results, preferably from the last quarter but definitely within the last year, needed to be available. This lab testing is critical as it ensures that the oil’s cannabinoid concentration accurately matches the label; that the “terpene profile,” or array of plant compounds present in the product, is available; and that the limits for “bad stuff” like heavy metals, pesticides, and microbial contaminants are not exceeded.

All of the CBD product recommendations below are from brands vetted for the quality parameters described above. For each CBD brand, the top CBD oil product pick, third-party lab information, and additional quality call-outs unique to the CBD company are provided.

Strongest CBD Oil: Spruce

Spruce has a worthy reputation in the CBD industry thanks to its third-party testing, lab-grade CBD oil, and strong relationships with its farmers and hemp suppliers. The brand focuses on small-batch CBD production, helping to achieve consistency and quality from product to product. 

Spruce offers high potency, full-spectrum tinctures derived from organic hemp in two strengths: 25 mg or 80 mg per serving. It’s important to note that most people would graduate up to these doses over time. Things like body size and health impact (like the level of pain you’re trying to control) will help determine which Spruce variety is right for you. Third-party lab data from ProVerde Laboratories and ACS Laboratory is available here.

To buy: 750 mg CBD Oil Tincture, $89; takespruce.com

Best for Anxiety: CBDistillery

Are you stressed or anxious? If so, you’re not alone. A whopping 8 in 10 Americans report being afflicted by stress during their day. CBDistillery put time into asking customers whether their products are calming: In a questionnaire sent to 2,000 customers, 88% reported that CBD helped with mild or temporary anxiety, and 76% said they preferred CBD to alcohol when they needed to relax. 

The brand makes several strengths, which allows people to personalize their dose and avoid drowsiness if taking CBD during the day. Buyers can choose from strengths ranging from 33 mg to 83 mg per serving, and the brand carries both full spectrum and THC-free tinctures. 

CBDistillery tests all products through third-party lab Proverde, and you can find Certificates of Analysis for each product on its website.

To buy: 100 mg Full Spectrum CBD Oil, $60; thecbdistillery.com

Best Full-Spectrum: Fab CBD

If you are interested in a full array of cannabinoids and terpenes in your CBD oil, Fab CBD delivers with a comprehensive and creative line of full-spectrum CBD oils. Its tinctures include whole-plant hemp extracts from organically grown Colorado hemp that features a unique blend of cannabinoids and terpenes. Along with the clearly labeled bottles, the 1 ml dropper is marked with measurement guides for easy dosing.

With 4 strengths ranging from 5 mg to 40 mg per serving and 5 premium flavors (natural, peppermint, citrus, berry, and vanilla), you have lots of tincture choices. Fab CBD also offers gummies, topical CBD cream, and CBD dog treats. Fab CBD tests all of its products through ProVerde Laboratories, and third-party lab results are accessible online.

To buy: 300 mg Citrus Tincture, $39; fabcbd.com

Best for Pain: NuLeaf Naturals

NuLeaf Naturals packs a punch with a full spectrum of synergistic cannabinoids and terpenes in a high-potency formula. Each bottle delivers 50 mg of full-spectrum CBD per 1 mL of oil. This consistency across all of its CBD oil formulas allows you to easily find the dose that works for you. Then you can purchase the bottle size that aligns with your needs and budget—available sizes range from 240 mg to 4,850 mg of CBD per bottle. It was picked as the best product for chronic pain relief because it is a strong, full spectrum oil. 

NuLeaf Naturals’ products are made with USDA-certified organic hemp seed oil, and they are free of additives, heavy metals, toxins, chemicals, and flavors. The company also offers a full-spectrum pet tincture. You can find product-specific third-party lab reports from ProVerde Laboratories on Nuleaf’s website.

To Buy: 725 mg High Grade Hemp Extract, $99; nuleafnaturals.com

Best for Sleep: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web CBD oils feature whole plant extracts. This means in addition to terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids, they contain a range of cannabinoids. Users of Charlotte’s Web have said the brand’s combination of CBD, CBC, and CBG support healthy sleep cycles. The overall sense of calm and relief that its products provide are another benefit that could potentially aid in better sleep.

In addition to whole plant CBD oil extracts, Charlotte’s Web also has isolate tinctures, capsules, gummies, balms, creams, pet products, and even swag. The U.S. Hemp Authority Certified company has a long history of robust quality control, and it uses MS Bionalytical and various Eurofins testing labs to ensure products are of the highest quality. Its third-party lab test results are easily accessed online by entering the specific lot number from a CBD oil bottle or packaging. Without additives or dyes, these full-spectrum oils use natural flavorings like mint chocolate, lemon twist, orange blossom, and olive oil to meet the taste preference for a variety of palates.

To buy: Original Formula CBD Oil, $45; charlottesweb.com

Best THC-Free: Medterra

Looking for zero THC? Medterra’s CBD isolate products provide a THC-free guarantee, and they are also U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. This could be a great option for anyone who may have to undergo regular drug testing. Dosages range from 16 mg all the way up to 100 mg per serving.

Derived from Kentucky hemp, Medterra’s unflavored CBD tinctures are made with 99% pure CBD extract, as well as organic MCT oil. In addition to these CBD isolate oils, Medterra also makes broad-spectrum CBD oils, CBD capsules, topicals, and pet products. Medterra utilizes ProVerde Laboratories and Green Scientific Labs to test all of its products and provides access to these third-party lab results online.

To buy: 1,000 mg CBD Tincture, $56; medterracbd.com

Best Value: cbdMD

When shopping for CBD oil, you may notice that it can become very expensive, and cheap options may not have the same trusted quality as ones with higher price tags. At cbdMD, however, you get the best of both worlds with products that are truly high-quality but come at an affordable price. Its broad-spectrum CBD oil comes in a variety of strengths and flavors (like mint, orange, and berry) so you can personalize your CBD experience.

Choose from strengths like 10 mg, 25 mg, or even upwards of 100 mg of CBD per serving. If you want to switch things up or are seeking convenience, check out cbdMD’s gummies, capsules, topicals, or even bath bombs for a more immersive CBD experience. On cbdMD’s product pages, you can access third-party test results from SC Labs by clicking on the “COAs” tab.

To buy: 750 mg CBD Oil Tincture, $70; cbdmd.com

Best Broad-Spectrum: Green Roads

When it comes to broad-spectrum CBD oil, Green Roads has everything that you’re looking for. CEO and co-founder Laura Fuentes is a licensed pharmacist who formulates the products with innovation and quality, and the company ensures that each batch of CBD oil is thoroughly tested by third-party labs. You can easily scan the QR code provided on the packaging with a smartphone to access the lab results for your product.

These broad-spectrum oils are available in three flavors—natural, mint breeze, and apple kiwi bliss—and feature three easy-to-understand strengths: mild (10 mg CBD), moderate (25 mg CBD), and mighty (50 mg CBD). Green Roads also offers a 1-milliliter daily dose product for on-the-go convenience.

To buy: 750 mg Mint Breeze Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, $90; greenroads.com

Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN is the Senior Editor of Health & Wellness Strategy at Remedy Review, an independent CBD reviews site. Dr. Ferira completed her PhD in Foods & Nutrition at The University of Georgia, where she researched the role of vitamin D in pediatric cardiometabolic disease. The products featured in this article were tested at ProVerde Laboratories in Milford, MA and Avazyme, Inc. in Durham, NC.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice; it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before consuming or using any of the products mentioned on this site.

HEALTH article

The 13 Best Toners for Any Skin Issue You’re Dealing With

Dryness, dullness, signs of aging, or acne? There’s a toner for that. 

Toners are one of skincare’s most fiercely debated topics, right next to physical exfoliators and eye cream. Here’s the thing: I would be skeptical of toners myself had I not witnessed their miracles firsthand. Honestly, I don’t feel like my skincare routine works effectively if I don’t prep my skin with a toner first. Toners act as the next nourishing and replenishing step after cleansing, and are meant to prep and prime your skin for skincare products to follow. Plus, with skincare technology getting better and better, toners are integrating ingredients that are clinically known to be effective. Just like hyaluronic acid in your serum will give your skin amazing hydration, the same ingredient in a toner will give you those skincare benefits in a lightweight, easy step.

For Problem Skin: Eve Lom Rescue Toner

For skin that comes with all the relatable concerns—redness, acne, unwanted bumps, irritation–this toner is a great solution for those issues and more. Formulated with AHAs and natural extracts, skin is gently exfoliated and soothed for great all-over improvement.

Buy at Nordstrom $70

For Dry Skin: Biba Los Angeles Hydrating Toner

If you have the fun problem of dry skin that’s also sensitive, this hydrating spray toner is gentle enough to use daily. It comes in spray form that can either be spritzed directly on the face, or onto a cotton pad to be swiped on. With witch hazel, water, and cucumber extract, this toner feels lightweight but still offers a necessary dose of hydration.  

Buy on their website $38

For Dull Skin: Goodhabit Rescue Me Texture Magic Exfoliating Toner

This toner has a powerhouse of ingredients that work hard to resurface and brighten skin. With AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs, it might seem like this product isn’t gentle enough for sensitive skin. On the contrary, however, even those with sensitive skin can use this toner daily. An amazing bonus? This toner helps blocks the effects of blue light on the skin.

Buy on their website $66

For Breakout-Prone Skin: Skinceuticals LHA Toner

For anyone trying to get ahead of aging concerns and control unsightly breakouts, this toner was made for you. Formulated with lipo hydroxy acid, lactic acid, and glycolic acid, this toner sloughs off dead skin while also purifying clogged pores. With daily use, you can look forward to firmer, brighter skin. 

Buy at Dermstore $40

For Sensitive Skin: Mario Badescu Aloe Vera Toner

If toners seem to always cause sensitivity to your skin, this aloe vera-infused toner is the perfect pick. Irritation and redness have been historically treated with aloe vera, and this product utilizes the ingredient’s soothing properties.

Buy at Nordstrom $15

For Irritated Skin: Feuillete Smooth Water Essence

If you’re a newbie to the whole toner business, this product is a great beginner product. There’s nothing this toner doesn’t do–it brightens, hydrates, and soothes. Whether your skin is sensitive, oily, or dry, this toner can treat all concerns. As an added benefit, it’s also fragrance-free for anyone with perfume sensitivity. 

Buy on Amazon $48

For Uneven Skin: Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener

For skin that is suffering from dryness, aging, or an uneven texture, this product is the key to solve all those issues. With a myriad of Japanese superfoods, this gentle toner plumps the skin and softens roughness caused by these skin concerns. 

Buy at Sephora $95

For Bumpy Skin: Sisley Paris Botanical Floral Toning Lotion

Formulated with natural extracts, this toner turns irritated, rough skin into a softened, hydrated textured. It is alcohol-free, which makes it a good option for dry and sensitive skin that is suffering from bumpiness, roughness, or redness. To truly immerse yourself in the French lifestyle, use this toner twice a day and soak in the goodness.

Buy at Nordstrom $106

For Inflamed Skin: Truly CBD Jelly Toning Solution

This jelly-textured toner, which contains glycolic acid and CBD, is a hero for skin that needs effective exfoliation but is prone to inflammation. Glycolic acid effectively exfoliates while CBD calms the skin. For anyone that has sensitive skin and is hesitant to use chemical exfoliator but wants to be free of the pollution and dead skin cells that clog pores, this product is for you. 

Buy at ULTA $25

For Severely Dehydrated Skin: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid

If your dry skin leaves you with flakes, rough patches, and uncomfortable tightness or cracked areas, this toner is the perfect solution. Packed with moisturizing ceramides, this toner soaks into the skin to deliver long-lasting hydration. 

Buy at Sephora $39

For Visible Pores: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA + BHA Pore-Tight Toner

For anyone who wants to carry summer with them wherever they go, this watermelon-scented toner delivers tightening and exfoliating effects without stripping the skin. With PHA and BHA acids, it gently exfoliates and reduces the appearance of pores. Not to mention, it’s also incredibly hydrating thanks to the hefty amount of hyaluronic acid. 

Buy at Sephora $34

For Aging Skin: Guerlain Abeille Royale Anti-Aging Fortifying Lotion Toner

This toner is water-light and formulated to treat signs of aging. Guerlain Royal Jelly, black bee repair technology, and honey all work together to protect the skin from future aging, while also reversing fine lines and wrinkles. Even better, Guerlain partnered with Brittany Black Bee Conservatory to sustainably source their ingredients while protecting the bee population. 

Buy at Sephora $75

For Oily Skin: Shani Darden Skin Care Sake Toning Essence

While toners and essences often get lumped into one category, this product takes the best of both to treat oily skin. With sake water, niacinamide, and natural extracts, this toner brightens skin, controls oil production, all while diminishing the appearance of pores. A cult-favorite product, this toner has a host of fans that rave about its effectiveness.

Buy at Sephora $52

Marie Claire article

How Mushrooms Could Help Solve the Beauty Industry’s Waste Problem

What does it mean to be beautiful on planet Earth in 2020? In search of clear skin, a mellow demeanor, the perfect eyebrows, and a high vibe, what are we reckoning with? From sheet masks to disposable salon sandals to plastic lining in the shipping of even eco-friendly materials, waste permeates the beauty industry in ways that can no longer be overlooked. According to the United Nations, half of all plastic is designed to be used only once, and environmental scientists are suggesting that plastics will serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era, despite becoming ubiquitous only within the past hundred years. It’s not cute that Styrofoam takes up an estimated 30% of space in landfills and lingers for about 500 years, that trash floats in the oceans, and that microplastics exist in our food supply. With packaging accounting for 40% of plastic usage, beauty brands are turning to a natural solution: mushroom mycelium.

“Mycelium is the root structure of mushrooms,” explains Loney Abrams, florist, artist, and co-owner of Wretched Flowers. “Mycelium networks can take on any form and once they colonize a form, it’s incredibly durable, insulating, and flame resistant”—properties which make mushrooms an ideal substitute for Styrofoam and plastic. Abrams and her partner, Johnny Stanish, have considered mycelium in a variety of settings. It was the material that made up their Bondage vases (also designed in special colors for a collaboration with the sustainable clothing brand Eden), which function conjunctly as vessels and shipping containers. Stanish and Abrams dream of a day when mycelium can replace Styrofoam in the shipping of large pieces of art, and make the case that mycelium could benefit myriad industries, from art and flowers to beauty. Wretched Flowers sources from and is inspired by Ecovative Design, the company that has been growing mycelium in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand to combat single-use plastics since 2007.

“Mushrooms are nature’s recycling system,” explains Gavin McIntyre, cofounder of Ecovative Design. “They’re decomposers. Mycelium grows really quickly, and for the industrial process, [we’re able to grow it] in days.” Many compostable products, such as the compostable cups that you see at coffee shops, are made from polylactic acid (PLA), a corn sugar fermented by bacteria, and are only industrially compostable. Mycelium products biodegrade within a month in a home compost, meaning they don’t need to be sent out to a facility. I asked McIntyre about composting in New York City, where the mayor has recently suspended the composting program, and he pointed out that you could technically cut up the packaging and put it out next to a tree or—though he doesn’t recommend this—a local body of water, as the product is safely marine compostable and used to protect scientific buoys in oceans around the world by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Mycelium acts like a glue and is grown into molds (no pun intended) fitting any shape, from packaging inserts to sculpture to beauty applicators. Ecovative Design grows mycelium beauty and skin-care products, including eye masks, sheet masks, and makeup wedges. They are also partnering with beauty, fashion, art, and technology brands to customize packaging.

One such brand is Hudson Hemp, a farm and CBD company built on land owned by Abby Rockefeller and her family in the Catskill mountains. I spoke with cofounder Melany Dobson about how and why she decided to integrate mycelium packaging into Hudson Hemp’s CBD line, Treaty. Dobson’s team grows hemp as part of a dynamic crop rotation alongside grains that supply flour to local bakeries, livestock feed for dairy farms, and rye and hops for brewers and distillers. Part of the mission of Hudson Hemp is to develop soil that relies on nutrients that come from the farm itself; since mycelium goes hand in hand with soil health, it was already in mind. “I learned about Ecovative through Seed—a probiotic brand that has used Ecovative since 2018 in their original packaging—and decided to go for it,” Dobson says. This ethos of open-source sharing when it comes to sustainability is one that is inevitably moving the industry forward. Since its launch, all Hudson Hemp CBD has been shipped in custom Ecovative packaging.

How does change happen in the beauty industry? I think about my own brand, Masha Tea, and how the transition to more thoughtful packaging finally happened when I saw an Instagram post by Nu Swim (which, incidentally, fills my bathing suit collection with perfect fits made from regenerated ocean waste) about the biodegradable packaging company Ecoenclose. The fact of the matter is, companies are always looking to one another to see how they can improve. On a larger scale, as Dobson notes, “Multinational companies [look to] small brands once they get attention. It helps set trends. If Treaty uses Ecovative, L’Oréal starts thinking about it too.”

This idea was at the heart of my conversation with Rodrigo Garcia Alvarez, founder of Amen, a vegan line of candles produced in the historic fragrance capital of Grasse, France. “The new luxury is when things are done by ethical and sustainability standards and not just by how things look,” he says. Amen candles, which are sold at Dover Street Market, 10 Corso Como, and The Conservatory, are all shipped in mycelium grown in Amsterdam. In fact, Garcia Alvarez sees mycelium as the future of luxury, with the goal of inspiring 10 major brands to incorporate mushroom materials, then 100, and eventually a world in which mycelium can “reach the economics of scale and efficient cost,” making mushrooms more accessible in the way that plastics are today.

Eyes are on mushrooms as the future of our reckoning with waste. “Why is CBD a beauty product?” I asked Dobson toward the end of our conversation about Hudson Hemp. “Because it brings the inner-outer beauty conversation full circle,” she answered. “If you’re feeling how you need to feel in the moment you’re in, that is beautiful.” As beauty brands consider how best to meet the needs of the earth alongside those of their consumers, mycelium reminds us that there are exciting alternatives to a wasteful existence.

VOGUE article