Sustainability comes to the false eyelashes market with Velour’s launch of the first-ever vegan hemp lashes.
Velour, the Toronto-based leader in luxe vegan lashes, spent three years looking into sustainable materials for its new Plant Fibre hemp-derived faux lashes—an industry first. After that, it was a year of development to get the lashes right. And the company says what it’s come away with is an innovation that will revolutionize the lash industry for years to come.
For the new Plant Fibre lashes, every component is sourced from plant materials—from the band to the fibers themselves. The lashes are 90 percent biodegradable and the packaging is fully recyclable.
“Even after switching all of our packaging to 100 percent recyclable materials, we knew this was just the beginning of how Velour is helping shape the future of sustainability in beauty,” Mabel Lee, founder and CEO of Velour said in a statement.
Velour made the shift to full vegan lashes in 2020, but according to Taylor Murphy, Velour’s Retail Education Manager, it wasn’t enough to just shift away from animal-derived lashes or tweak packaging.
“There is consumer demand for sustainability at a luxe level,” Murphy told Ethos via Zoom. The core demographics for fake eyelashes—Millennial and Gen-Z consumers—may be focused on appearances, but they’re also keen on sustainability initiatives. They are more willing to spend money to support companies taking responsible and transparent steps for people and the planet, according to recent research. And that’s especially true with products that can seem indulgent—diamond jewelry for example. False eyelashes fit the category, too.
False eyelash market size and environmental impact
The false eyelash market is not something to bat an eye at—it’s worth more than $1.5 billion and estimated to surpass $2 billion by 2028 according to recent data—most of that from unsustainable and even toxic ingredients.
The market is segmented into human hair, synthetics, and animal hair, with synthetics dominating the category. Most synthetic lashes are made from polybutylene terephthalate—a type of plastic that is not biodegradable.
Plastic is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. A report released last October by Beyond Plastics suggested that plastic will release more greenhouse gas emissions than coal plants in the U.S. by 2030. Coal is currently the leading contributor to climate change.
That report, New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change, looked at ten stages of plastic production and found that the U.S. plastics industry is responsible for more than 230 million metric tons of emissions per year—that’s the equivalent of nearly 120 gigawatts from coal plants. The report says that number will rise in the coming years as the U.S. has at least a dozen new plastic facilities coming online.
“What’s quietly been happening under the radar is the petrochemical industry — the fossil fuel industry — has been ramping up investment in the production of plastics,” Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics, said in a statement last year. “Unless you live in the communities where this is taking place, people just don’t know this.”
Animal hair isn’t much better; it comes mostly from mink—a byproduct of the fur farming industry. Like plastic, animal farming is a leading cause of global warming. Animal agriculture is responsible for more than 14 percent of anthropogenic carbon emissions; it’s also a leading producer of methane emissions. Methane is more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2.
The animal-derived eyelash market poses ethical issues, too. As leading fashion brands and retailers shift away from traditional fur and leather, there are shifts happening in the beauty and personal care industries to remove animal ingredients. Brands are opting for vegan ingredients and foregoing animal testing to deliver products more aligned with their customers’ values.
A new look for lashes
“We have made great strides in developing more earth-friendly products,” says Lee, citing the Plant Fibre lashes as Velour’s biggest achievement in that area yet.
Synthetic lashes pose issues beyond their plastic connection, too; they can often look too blunt. But according to Murphy, Velour developed a natural taper with the hemp fiber that’s not been seen with a synthetic lash before. Couple that with the sustainability gains offered by the plant fiber material, and it could be the beginning of a sea change for the lash industry.
The new lashes come in three styles, currently: Second Nature, a short, round-shape lash that provides natural volume; A New Leaf, the wispy, full-volume lash for bright-eyed looks; and Cloud Nine, the ultra-wispy flared lashes for a sultrier look.
The new lashes are also meant to be re-worn; each pair of lashes can be worn up to 20 times, Murphy says.
Plant Fibre lashes from Velour also cost less than the brand’s other lashes, about $24 a set.
Shop the collection here.