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The Powder Shampoo’s Lynn Tan reflects on a year of eco-conscious success and challenges

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 7 min read
The Powder Shampoo’s Lynn Tan reflects on a year of eco-conscious success and challenges
Homegrown beauty brand The Powder Shampoo gained attention for its water-free body washes and shampoos
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Paperwork is a chore, especially when registering a beauty brand in a foreign land. Beauty veteran Lynn Tan knows this too well, having made all the necessary applications with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Union (EU) to retail The Powder Shampoo overseas. This was the only way to grow her brand globally and spread the sustainability message.

Today, the made-in-Singapore brand sells worldwide through its online platform and distributors in the UK, US, Netherlands, Indonesia and Hong Kong. Tan says: “To be able to sell in other countries, I have to make sure my product is registered. The European Union is one of the strictest in the world, even more so than the FDA. If you can sell in Europe, you can sell anywhere. So, now that I’ve got all the approvals done, I’m just waiting for big retail chains like Space NK and Selfridges to call me!”

She says that The Powder Shampoo just inked a partnership with Sephora to retail its products in five countries within Asia early next year. From March, you can find it on Singapore Airlines C6L’ Kris Shop. Soon, it will expand to Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, and Norway. The brand is also in discussions with retailers or distributors in Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Korea, Scandinavia, Canada, Greece, Spain and Ireland.

Positive reception

The Powder Shampoo sells extremely well on home soil, but it has also been received with much positivity in the UK since it entered the market last October. Thanks to a glowing review in The Telegraph, sales skyrocketed. Tan says that one person would buy something for every two people she presented the product to at a beauty fair. “The people in the UK understand sustainability; it’s in their blood,” she adds.

On top of that, it has been getting plenty of love from beauty editors from magazines such as L’Officiel Singapore, which awarded it Best Hair Loss Shampoo for its Invigorating and Stimulating Shampoo for Thinning and Aging Hair — a global bestseller. It has also won a Vegan Choice Awards brand award and is being considered for a sustainability award by Marie Claire UK.

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Launched in April 2022, the idea for The Powder Shampoo came during the Covid-19 lockdown, when Tan was hit with an existential crisis about the kind of future her children and grandchildren would grow up in. She says: “I learned greenhouse gas emissions will increase to 49 metric tons by 2030 and double by 2050. This could irreversibly damage the planet we call home. At this rate, the sad reality is that my grandchildren would not know what it’s like to walk through a forest or a field of grass. This shook me.”

Drawing from 20 years of experience as the founder of Beauté by Nature — a retailer of internationally-recognised botanical haircare and skincare brands — she looked closer at how we showered, the tonnes of water wasted, and how we can mitigate it.

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“I believe there is a better, smarter, more sustainable way for us to care for our hair and body. I had the vision to create something that retains the cleansing power of a foaming shampoo or body wash yet is also pleasurable, effective and easy to use. And equally as important, how could I make it without plastic packaging? And so, The Powder Shampoo was born.”

Tan continues: “We believe good products shouldn’t have to cost the Earth, and regular innovation is the only way to save the Earth from the climate crisis. Our dedicated team has over 50 years of experience in beauty and personal care, so now it’s time to put what we’ve learned to the good of our scalp, hair, skin, and the planet.”

She presented her brief to Singapore Polytechnic’s Consumer Chemicals Technology Centre — a business unit that supports businesses dealing with consumer care products — and worked with the chemists to develop vegan and cruelty-free formulas with 100% nature-derived ingredients.

Across the shampoo and body wash ranges, The Powder Shampoo uses 28 botanically derived ingredients and eight micro-encapsulated essential oils, minus nasty sulphates, silicones, parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances. “We believe in the power of plants and the solutions that the Earth provides for us. I put good ingredients like ginseng, ginger and biotin in the shampoos. There’s biotin in all the hair care products because who doesn’t want thicker, fuller hair?” says Tan.

Even more extraordinary is that all the products are created with zero parts water. Like laundry detergent, the formulas are all powdered and lather upon contact with water. With every 100g bottle you buy, you enjoy 100 washes, saving you five plastic bottles and five litres of water.

Tan adds: “When you wash your hair with regular liquid shampoo, you need water to lather and even more water to rinse it off. The more lathering sulphates there are in it, the more water you need to rinse it off. The whole process is so wasteful and unnecessary. A powder-to-foam wash is just easier. It doesn’t spill; it’s so light and concentrated; one bottle goes a long way. It just makes so much more sense.”

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Not only is this a great product for carry-on flights, but the reduction in water weight also lessens the burden of carbon emissions when shipped or flown worldwide. With the recent launch of The Powder Shampoo Minis, carbon emissions are reduced even further. Each 20g Mini contains more than 20 washes, so whether you are taking a short weekend getaway or venturing for the long haul, you need never worry about insufficient washes.

Plastic pain point

During her research, Tan also learned that the personal care industry produces over 120 billion plastic units yearly and is one of the biggest contributors to single-use plastics. The devastating effects of plastic pollution on the planet made her resolute to eliminate plastic packaging for good.

In its place, The Powder Shampoo products are packed in lightweight aluminium bottles that are 100% reusable, biodegradable and infinitely recyclable. Simply refill it with the brand’s compostable and recyclable paper refill pouches. Doing this would save many plastic bottles of liquid shampoo from ending up in a landfill.

The brand prioritises sustainability in all its endeavours, aiming to make a positive impact. On top of reducing plastic pollution, The Powder Shampoo partnered with Tree Nation to further its positive impact via a tree-planting initiative. A tree will be planted with every bottle sold. So far, 20,000 trees have been planted, translating to 15 hectares of reforestation and 2,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide captured. If all goes to plan, The Powder Shampoo will plant 1,000,000 trees by 2030.

One year on, Tan is cautiously optimistic about the growth of The Powder Shampoo. “I always get excited when customers, who have been using the product for the past year, tell me that the product works, smells good, and can’t live without it.”

She adds: “For decades, my job was to sell a finished product that wasn’t my own; I just needed to care about operational matters. But with The Powder Shampoo, I’m experiencing a lot of firsts, and I’m extremely thrilled that the products are performing better than expected. If we have more budget, I would love to do a clinical study to test the formulas and their efficacy.”

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