Like love letters in the sand, William Shakespeare's words are pressed right into the powder. When you open the Estee Lauder compact, you read, "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

It's a message from your makeup to you.For several years now, cosmetic makers who care about the environment have proven themselves with non-aerosol pumps. Consumers got the message. With a clear conscience, we bought their goods.

Now manufacturers are finding new ways to say, "We are responsible. We care about the environment." And "If you care, too, buy this."

Redken is packaging haircare products in new, larger, recyclable-plastic bottles. The shampoos and conditioners inside are, Redken says, biodegradable and made without testing them on animals.

Matrix also says "biodegradable" and "no animal testing." That company has a new line called "Systeme Biolage, Science in Sync with Nature."

Each Biolage bottle is marked with a code to tell recycling companies what type of plastic it contains.

The Biolage products are also environmentally responsible, the manufacturers say, because they are made from renewable resources, such as plant oils.

Skeptical consumers might ask, "Haven't we seen hand lotion in plastic bottles before? Didn't we buy this shampoo 10 years ago - it was made of renewable-resource honey and almonds?"

For some companies, perhaps, the commitment is only skin deep. A Redken vice president, Steve Goddard, criticizes cosmetic makers who label plastic bottles as biodegradable. There is no such thing as biodegradable plastic, he says. These bottles are "simply a blend of polyethylene and cornstarch. In a landfill the cornstarch breaks down, leaving the polyethylene. The long-term effect of polyethylene on the environment is not known."

Are all the manufacturers' environmental changes merely cosmetic? Consider Estee Lauder:

"Bring the empty bottles and tubes back to the counter where you bought them," says Daria Myers. "We'll recycle them for you."

Myers is the director of marketing for Estee Lauder's new line called "Origins." She came to Salt Lake City last week to talk about the cosmetics, which will initially be carried only at Nordstrom stores, beginning Oct. 15.

The Shakespeare in powder is an Origins original. As is the idea that you can recycle at the counter, if your local bin doesn't take plastic or glass. The makeup line is unusual in other respects, too:

- Estee Lauder is using only recycled cardboard and paper for packaging and shipping containers. No styrofoam peanuts in the shipping cartons.

- All the bottles are glass with plastic tops. (Recyclable.)

- No dyes, alcohol or petroleum products in the lotions.

- No testing on animals. "We test on humans," says Myers. No buying ingredients from companies that do animal testing. No animal by-products in the cosmetics.

- While several pairs of Origins moisturizers are designed to work together ($35 for both), Meyers doesn't claim, as a number of manufacturers do, that one must use every product in the line for good results.

A woman can use her own cleanser with any of the moisturizers, Myers says. "We respect our customer's pocketbook and intelligence."

- Estee Lauder won't introduce new Origins colors every season. "Makeup should match your skin, not your outfit," says Myers.

- Estee Lauder is venturing into aromatherapy. Meyers says the idea of rubbing various herbal oils into you skin to induce sleep, relieve muscle aches or relieve stress has long been popular in other countries. In the United States, she says, the idea hasn't caught on.

Origins smells like what it's made of: combinations of birch leaves, tangerine, grapefruit, peppermint, lime peel, spruce needles, carrot oil, coconut, anise, aloe, sage . . .

Will Utahns be likely to buy Origins and other such natural products manufactured with respect for the environment?

Average cosmetic-buyer Linda Pirouznia says, "Probably."

Previously, she hadn't thought much about the environment when buying lotions and lipstick, she says. But, yes, "I like the idea of recycling. And I'm an animal lover."

She wouldn't be put off by a plain brown box, either. "It's like with people. It's what's inside that counts."

Janet MacFarland says she'd appreciate less packaging, if that's where manufacturers are headed. She doesn't like buying a big box and finding a smaller vial or jar inside.

She's glad that some manufacturers are giving up animal testing, too. She asks, "How many times do you have to put shampoo in a rabbit's eyes to know that it burns?"

On the other hand, she says, the idea of testing on humans doesn't appeal. If a product is labeled "No Animal Testing" MacFarland would likely buy it. "But," she says, "if that means `Tested on Humans Instead' - I don't know."