Beauty

Is this sustainable beauty brand worth it?

I tested out by Humankind to see if they stick to their standards

A layout of by Humankind products. Credit: by Humankind.

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If you did a waste audit, I imagine you’d find that a large percentage of your waste is from single-use plastics, like straws, yogurt cups, shampoo and conditioner bottles, mascara tubes, cleaning product bottles and sprays, and more. And less than 10 percent of plastic waste gets recycled. So yes, it matters how much you consume! But it’s hard to find everyday household products that are Earth-friendly and get the job done. I’ve tried cute shampoo bars that don’t lather and so many natural deodorants that fell flat in hopes of reducing my impact.

Enter by Humankind, a sustainable beauty brand dedicated to providing essentials in just the essentials. It suggests this: “Instead of asking how we can recycle more plastic, let's work together and find ways to consume less of it in the first place.” Orders ship in 100 percent recycled materials and are carbon-neutral. That means that by Humankind sources responsibly and offsets the environmental impact of shipping by investing in strategic forest projects that balance the impact of its business.

After your first purchase, you’ll have all the containers you’ll need; then you can subscribe to the products you want, and it’ll send “Kindfills” (refills) to match your usage (every eight weeks for deodorant and 12 weeks for body wash, for example). In short, you never run out of deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, or any other favorites. The goal in supplying just refills instead of the whole product is to help you reduce how much single-use plastic you buy and throw out.

How did the products arrive?

packaging
Credit: by Humankind

My order arrived in 100% recycled materials.

I was so impressed with the shipping materials by Humankind used. The outer package was a “recycled paper parcel” that felt like cardstock paper, and it has since fully broken down in my backyard compost bin! Inside, each item I ordered was individually boxed in simple tan and white boxes (which I think were undyed). There were no unnecessary packing peanuts or tissue papers, and the size of the package matched the amount within.

Aside from feeling happy with the packaging materials, the items themselves were so aesthetically beautiful with muted colors and simplistic typography. I was giddy unboxing each product. The shampoo and conditioner bars came with absorbent trays to place them on in the shower, which are important to keep the products dry in between uses. The shampoo bar was a fruity orange color and had “by Humankind” imprinted into it. The conditioner bar was a creamy pearl color—though it was smaller than I expected.

deodorant
Credit: by Humankind

When you refill the deo, you just unscrew the old and insert the new. (Like an ice pop!)

The deodorant has my favorite look. I chose the Rosemary Mint scent and it came in a pastel blue refillable container—not unlike other trendy brands like Myro. I like my medicine cabinet to look sleek, and this deodorant earned a center spot. I love the rounded edges and the cylinder shape, which felt more natural to hold during application.

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The mouthwash came in three separate but minimalistic packages: the dissolvable tablets, a glass cup, and a silicone container. The silicone container, which holds 60 tablets, also fits into the glass cup’s opening, doubling as a lid for it. I tried the ginger tablets, so the silicone case was bright orange. Like, neon orange. I’d suggest other colors if you prefer a muted color scheme, but I’m looking forward to reusing the silicone case for first aid or medicine since it’s so bright. You could also upcycle it to hold jewelry while at the gym or on the go.

How well did the products actually work?

shampoo
Credit: by Humankind

I love that the shampoo/conditioner/body bars come with trays.

I used the Citrus Lavender shampoo, Grapefruit conditioner, Rosemary Mint deodorant, and Ginger mouthwash for about three weeks before writing this review. I’m glad I stuck with the products because my body took some time to adjust to the natural-based ingredients.

The shampoo lathers really well, which has been an issue with other shampoo bars I’ve tried in the past. The scent is fruity and refreshing, and it certainly leaves my hair feeling clean. Although, immediately after rinsing, my hair almost feels squeaky clean and a bit tangled. As someone who has a lot of waves (and frizz!), I absolutely need a conditioner to follow this shampoo bar. That said, I plan to use the bar until it's gone because the scent is so fresh and it feels good to really lather up my hair, especially after humid summer days.

Unlike the shampoo, the conditioner hasn’t wowed me. It takes a lot of work to get the product melty enough to apply to the ends of my hair, and the grapefruit scent is pleasant but muted. My hair felt clean after rinsing, but once I let it dry it was a bit stringy and it seemed like there was still product in my hair. I continued using it for a week after my initial trial with it and eventually opted for a liquid conditioner that was quicker to use and felt more hydrating.

The deodorant was hard to apply when my skin was still wet. Instead of rolling on (like a gel deodorant) it kind of tugged at my skin without leaving any product, so I prefer to apply it after my skin has dried. The scent is refreshing and sweet, and it lasts throughout the day. I did notice that the product would “ball up” during and after workouts, which may be a problem for days I’m really on-the-go. For now, I like the scent, packaging, and refill option enough to work around the application times. The deodorant has earned a place in my purse, so I can freshen up while on the go and not have to worry about using it on wet skin.

mouthwash
Credit: by Humankind

The silicone case makes it easy to have fresh breath on the go.

The mouthwash is, to my surprise, my favorite product! When I selected the ginger flavor, I was curious. But instead of tasting spicy or zingy, the ginger is refreshing and neutral. The mouthwash tab takes a minute to dissolve, so I usually plop it in the glass before I do my skincare routine or while I’m flossing so it’s ready when I finish. The packaging is also super convenient because I can take the silicone case with me on the go and then use any kind of cup. Or, I can use the glass provided—but I worry it may crack or break if my purse/luggage is dropped or jostled.

So, is by Humankind worth it?

bathside
Credit: by Humankind

The product design is sleek, colorful, and muted.

If being environmentally friendly and conscious of your personal impact is important to you, then by Humankind is a great fit. Their products range from $10-20, which isn't much more than drugstore or supermarket prices in most cases. I was thrilled to see the mailed package and individual boxes breakdown in my compost bin, and putting the refills to use gets rid of any storage problems you may have with clunky backup products. There’s no need to stock multiple shampoos or deodorants when you can order a refill and use the same outer container.

Though the hair products weren’t an ideal match for my hair type, they may be great for you! I recommend the shampoo bar to freshen up your locks (just make sure you have a conditioner on hand, too). by Humankind also has a body wash bar, hand soap bar, cotton swabs, and hand sanitizer.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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