I decided to review the Lip-to-Lid Balmies from the cosmetics brand Axiology because I was excited about their packaging, which is made from post-consumer paper—essentially, trash. This paper trash is repurposed into wrappers and containers for the product. Their Balmies are meant for use on the lips, eyes, and face. This in itself is a great start, as a multi-use product means that consumers don’t have to buy separate lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush, helping to reduce waste. This picture only includes three of their Balmies, which come in 14 colors, but I’ll be reviewing their Balmies as a whole here. I think Axiology is doing a great job sourcing their ingredients and packaging responsibly and with low waste. They also focus on being ethical, meaning that their products are all animal cruelty-free and vegan. Overall, though, I wish they were more transparent about where their ingredients come from and where they manufacture the Balmies; I wanted to give this product a higher score but couldn’t as I felt I didn’t have enough information. However, I love how transparent Axiology is about their packaging and think that they are a model for other cosmetics companies in this regard.
These Balmies are PETA certified, clean, vegan, cruelty-free, and do not use synthetic fragrance or soy. On their website, Axiology specifies what this extensive list of terms means. “Clean” means that their ingredients are safe for human use. “Vegan” means that Axiology does not use any animal products, such as beeswax, or ingredients that harm animals indirectly, such as palm oil. “Cruelty-Free” means that they do not use any animal testing. I liked that Axiology provided the definitions for these terms on their website, as well as clarifying what these terms mean for the company specifically. Axiology’s transparency around makes their efforts to be ethical feel much more authentic. The packaging on their Balmies is also great. Balmies come in a box that is recyclable or compostable with recyclable paper packaging around the crayon itself. It’s great to see companies like Axiology putting so much effort into minimizing plastic and packaging waste . Axiology also claims that all of their ingredients are “natural.” In addition to being natural, most of them are organic, such as their Organic Castor Oil. However, the Balmies do contain Synthetic Fluorphlogopite. Phlogopite is a natural mineral similar to mica, but to make Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, phlogopite goes through chemical processing in which hydroxyl groups in the Phlogopite are replaced with fluorine. This material is safe, but I wish Axiology was more clear about their use of this synthetic ingredient since they advertise being “natural” so strongly. This product also contains mica, which can be problematic because a lot of mica is mined using child labor. This mostly takes place in India. However, Axiology said that their mica does not come from Indian or South African mines. Lastly, I wish that Axiology explicitly said where they got their dyes for their various colors of Balmies. They say that the dyes are “natural,” but nothing more. Still, I think these Balmies come pretty close to being perfectly natural and safe.
The way Axiology manufactures their boxes is especially impressive. All of the Balmies’ paper packaging is made using recycled trash. They source this paper from a women’s cooperative in Bali which takes trash from Bali beaches and turns it into packaging by boiling and soaking post-consumer paper. The cooperative is completely female-owned and operated. This process is done almost entirely by hand—save for one piece of machinery—and helps keep these womens’ paper binding tradition alive. The women save the water from the paper-making process too, making this factory very waste-conscious. I love the amount of detail Axiology provides about how the Balmies packaging is made and I also love the amount of effort that they put into creating low-waste, recyclable packaging. However, I wish they provided more information about how the actual Balmies are manufactured. The founder does mention in her story that Axiology started out as a very small brand that she manufactured products for in her home, but I don’t know if she still manufactures locally now that the company has grown bigger. I love their packaging process and how transparent they are about it, which is why I gave them a 2 here, but I wish they were more transparent about the manufacturing of their actual product.
Axiology was founded by Ericka Rodriguez as a small business that aimed to make ethical cosmetics. Ericka founded Axiology because she couldn’t find any good cosmetics that didn’t use animal testing, so she decided to make her own. Therefore, the founding principles of Axiology include being vegan and cruelty-free. Today, the company is based in Bend, Oregon. As I said previously, I’m assuming that she still manufactures her lipsticks locally in Bend, since it was not explicitly stated where it is manufactured. However, this would entail a lot of transportation and shipping costs, since their packaging is manufactured in Bali. As a whole, Axiology does use plastic in some of its product packaging. Their lipstick packaging is made with 50% post-consumer recycled plastic, or PCR. They say that they’re working towards 100% PCR packaging. They also provide suggestions on how to recycle PCR, since most household recycling programs can’t handle it. However, their suggested store—Credo, a sustainable beauty store—is only present in the U.S. Additionally, to reinforce their vegan and cruelty-free policy for their ingredients, Axiology does not sell any of their products in places where animal testing is required such as China. Overall, I wish Axiology was more transparent about the manufacturing process of their actual products and where they source their ingredients from other than just saying that they’re “natural” and organic. Still, I think Axiology is making great progress towards implementing sustainable and ethical practices.