Common Heir Created the Plastic-Free Vitamin C Capsules of Your Dreams

Founders Cary Lin and Angela Ubias set out to create a results-driven vitamin C serum that's also eco-conscious.

Photo: Common Heir

These days, buying sustainable beauty products doesn't mean choosing from a limited selection of subpar products. Beauty brands large and small have been joining a movement toward more eco-friendly habits such as sustainably sourced ingredients, minimal packaging, and carbon-offset shipping. One brand that's hopped on board aims to attract those who want to lower their waste without compromising on the performance of their skin-care products. Common Heir has entered the beauty space with vitamin C capsules in completely plastic-free packaging.

Common Heir's co-founders have a background in the beauty industry and a common drive to create more plastic-free options for consumers. Cary Lin started her career in management consulting but became interested in skin care when she noticed how constant traveling took a toll on her skin. Lin pivoted her career and went on to work for numerous beauty companies, large and small.

Angela Ubias has always loved using beauty products but developed an interest in skin care specifically while working at an Estee Lauder store in college. She went on to work for Texas Beauty Labs (now The Goodkind Co.), one of the first cosmetic labs in the U.S. to focus on indie clean beauty brands. She learned the ins and outs of manufacturing, operations, formulation, and product development, and helped launch more than 50 clean beauty brands.

The two connected at the suggestion of a mutual friend in December 2019. Quickly realizing they had similar visions, by February 2020 the duo teamed up to create Common Heir. They got to work right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and participated in Credo for Change, a mentorship program for BIPOC founders of clean beauty companies.

Fast forward, and Common Heir just released its debut product: vitamin C serum capsules (Buy It, $88, A golden child of skin care, vitamin C is loved for its antioxidant properties and skin-brightening benefits. But the ingredient is also notoriously unstable — meaning, when vitamin C products are exposed to air, the nutrient can oxidize faster and cease to provide benefits to your skin. Some brands house their vitamin C serums in single-use capsules to solve this problem — this way, you're only exposing a single-use amount of serum to air right before using it. But the thing is, brands typically use plastic to make the capsules. Instead, Common Heir's capsules are made of algae and plant-based starches. They're biodegradable and break down at roughly the same rate as an apple core. When you're done using one, you can dispose of it by tossing it into boiling water or composting it. Even if you were to throw one in the trash, it'd still be a more eco-friendly decision than throwing away plastic, which can take hundreds of years to break down and never completely degrades, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The biodegradable capsules might be the flashy factor that makes Common Heir stand out, but the brand also incorporates sustainable practices into the smaller details. Their vitamin C serum ingredients are sustainably sourced, and the capsules are packaged in a recyclable cardboard tube, according to the brand. What's more, Common Heir will donate 1 percent of annual sales to 1% Percent for the Planet and $1 for every email signup to the Ocean Blue Project.

As for the serum itself, it contains vitamin C in 10 percent concentration alongside other brightening ingredients such as licorice and marshmallow root extracts. The vitamin C used in the Common Heir capsules comes in the form of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (aka THD ascorbate) rather than L-ascorbic acid, a commonly-used form of vitamin C that's more potent but less stable. This allowed for a formula that's gentler than a lot of existing vitamin C products, says Ubias. "Additionally, THD penetrates the skin on a deeper level than L-Ascorbic acid," she says.

With the arrival of another Earth Day, maybe you're looking for swaps to help you cut back on your plastic use — Common Heir's serum is a clear opportunity. And if you just like the sound of vitamin C serum formulated to be gentle but effective, it'll satisfy that want too.

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