7 minutes to read

Glitter With No Regrets: submission’s Quest to Change Beauty

Meet  Zenia Jaeger, founder of submission beauty. 

Over the last decade, we have seen a huge shift in how consumers interact with brands. 
Captained by Gen Z and later Millenials, audiences worldwide have started demanding more from companies. They want to invest in establishments that care for the environment and have a strong sustainability strategy designed to reduce their impact on nature in the long run.
While the path to carbon neutrality is a rocky road with many unexpected twisted turns, new-gen CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) companies led by young entrepreneurs – who often used to be on the other side of the fence – are starting to take the necessary steps to change the industry from the inside. This tendency is particularly catching on in the beauty sector, where a wave of conscious labels offering alternative formulations and plastic-free packaging has been taking the market by storm.


Photo: courtesy of submission

With pop marketing techniques and captivating catchphrases, these companies promise their community to make them beautiful while also being good for the soul. They are vegan, clean, and mindful about the planet – thus stirring a revolution within a business that, for far too long, has been a leading contributor to climate change. 
One such brand is submission beauty, a zero-plastic beauty label that has made it a point to eliminate chemicals from its products. Not for nothing, their tagline is “Plastic is Poison”. 
Founded by Zenia Jaeger –  a renowned make-up artist and partner at Office Magazine – to give new meaning to sustainable luxury, the brand is characterized by a very contemporary “less is more” approach. 
On their minimal website, they provide a “shitlist” illustrating all of the horrible ingredients commonly found in mass-marketed beauty products, from palm oil to phthalates and microplastics. 
We chatted with Zenia to get behind her motives for starting the brand and her goals for the future. 
Read the conversation below.

Ogyre – We’re big fans of Submission! First of all, let’s get to know each other. Who is Submission, why was it born and what does it stand for?

Zenia Jaeger – Submission stands for environmental accountability, personal self-expression, and a new paradigm of responsible luxury. The brand was born from frustration over not being able to purchase sustainable products with a luxury feel. Even when products are plant-based, they are almost always still wrapped in plastic, which in our view defeats the purpose. I wanted to start with the packaging and be mindful of every step of production. I saw the void in the market and wanted to make a change, and every day I’m more convinced that Submission is that change.

Ogyre – Was there a precise moment that made the team behind Submission go: we had enough. It’s time to act now. If so, what was it and how has it contributed to starting the brand?

ZJ – I wouldn’t say that it was a precise moment, but rather a general feeling. Working as a makeup artist on set, it’s almost impossible to buy zero-plastic and plant-based products without compromising on the look and feel. That frustration, paired with the widespread overproduction and greenwashing within the beauty industry—as well as many other industries—is mortifying. So we decided to do something about it.

Ogyre – What’s Submission’s relationship with the Ocean like?

ZJ – We want to help protect the resources that are essential to life on Earth and the ecosystem that is the ocean by minimizing plastic and microplastics poisoning the ocean. I think what many people don’t understand is that if the ocean dies, human life won’t survive either, so it’s not about Submission’s relationship with the ocean per se, it’s about humanity’s relationship with the ocean.


Photo: courtesy of submission

Ogyre – Many brands nowadays claim to be sustainable, and to care for the environment. Unfortunately, we know that’s often only a marketing campaign. What sets Submission aside?

ZJ – We are very aware of how hard it is for consumers to make choices that benefit the environment and personal health, mainly because of all the greenwashing. With that in mind, we provide full transparency to our customers so they can make informed decisions, and so that we can normalize demanding transparency from your favorite beauty brands. Our goal is that more brands and manufacturers follow suit, collectively creating change for a better future.

Ogyre – Why did you choose to focus on glitter? Will you develop different products as you grow?

ZJ – We felt that zero-plastic glitter perfectly illustrated our mission since typical glitter is merely microplastic by a different name. Our glitter is made using cellulose from eucalyptus trees and has TÜV OK biodegradable certification, meaning that it biodegrades naturally in freshwater. From a personal health perspective, it’s the only FDA-approved glitter to date that is approved for safe usage on lips and around the eyes.  

In addition to the glitter, we launched a multifunctional plant-based and zero-plastic balm last August, and we will launch our third product this summer. But in general, everything we do starts with packaging—we will never launch anything if it’s not possible to create zero-plastic packaging. Our goal is to have a red thread throughout our line, where the products are multifunctional and can be used together, and wherever possible make use of the same packaging design, to avoid unnecessary waste.

20221016_WK_red_4.5Photo: courtesy of submission

Ogyre – Do you have a muse? Many muses? No muses at all?

ZJ – Our muse is our community and nature.

Ogyre – Your slogan is Plastic Is Poison. What’s the message you wish to spread through Submission?

ZJ – Touching on what we talked about earlier, we want to be as clear and transparent as possible. Plastic truly is poison. It harms our environment, and all plastic ever created still exists in some form today. It’s in our air, soil, and water. Because plastic is so widely used, it’s also found in the form of microparticles in our bloodstream and has even been found in placentas. It’s devastating. The single-use plastics that are ubiquitous in the beauty industry are a big problem. They are thrown out in a heartbeat, with no thought of their lifecycle, and they are a significant contributing factor to the plastic contamination of our global ecosystem.

Ogyre – One lesson you’ve learned while building the brand?

We are surprised to learn just how much the cosmetic industry still relies on the use of plastic packaging for its products and how difficult it is to navigate and communicate with the suppliers, as there are still very few non-plastic options available. Also, a lot of suppliers and manufacturers cannot easily explain exactly what their products consist of or are even incentivized to misrepresent the material makeup of their products, which of course is frightening. Plastic is inexpensive, lightweight, and can be molded into different shapes for product packaging. There is still a long way for suppliers to trust in a zero-plastic future, but we are happy to have found smaller companies that share our mindset and passion for exploring better solutions.

Ogyre – What are some things “normal” people can do to reduce their impact on the environment?

ZJ – Be inquisitive, ask questions, and demand transparency from your favorite beauty brands. In general, support companies that use sustainable sourcing and manufacturing processes and buy locally whenever possible.

Ogyre – Lastly, what does caring for the ocean look like to you?

ZJ – Caring for the ocean is showing respect to our nature and home. Don’t throw trash out in waterways or beaches (or anywhere else in nature for that matter). Be mindful of how you consume. Where does your waste go when you wash it off or flush it out and what are the costs, not just for you but also for the environment? And lastly, avoid plastic in your everyday life, even when it creates a minor inconvenience. All change matters. We’re in this together and your decisions as an individual do make a difference.

Follow submission on Instagram @submission.beauty


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