HOW I’M MAKING MY BEAUTY ROUTINE MORE SUSTAINABLE
Ok guys this post was a long time coming. I actually wrote it a while ago. Then needed to update it, and just kept forgetting and pushed it back for so long. But now it will be my first post of 2020. Better late than never I guess.
So get ready for a super long post. There’s a lot of information in here and there are a lot of ways I’m trying to make my beauty routine more sustainable, mostly because the beauty industry is actually incredibly unsustainably minded. I mean think about it, the purpose of the products is for you to use them up, get rid of the package, and buy a new one. And even if you don’t use it up you have to throw it out because beauty products have shelf lives. And then there’s the fact most beauty products come in plastic containers, a lot (read: A LOT) of which contains a mixture of several types of plastics and sometimes metals, rendering it unrecyclable. And in certain cases the contents of your products (like nail polish and nail polish remover) make the packaging unrecyclable, too.
Remember when I said there was a lot of info to digest? This is only the tip of the iceberg. But don’t get too discouraged. Because there are a lot of things you can do to decrease the environmental impact of your beauty routine. Here are just a few of the things I’m doing:
SWITCHING TO ORGANIC/NATURAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS
You are what you eat. But you are what you put on your skin, too. Your skin absorbs anything you put on it, so you should make sure that it’s good for it right? This is something I’m doing slowly. As I use up my beauty products (both makeup and skincare), I am buying organic/natural products to replace them. Not all natural/organic products are better for your skin (in fact sometimes they can do more harm than good), but naturally grown ingredients don’t use pesticides and fertilizer, reducing the impact on the planet. There are literally so many organic/natural beauty brands out there. Do your research on what their ingredients are and what will work best for your skin type. Here are just a few if you want to start the switch: LaFlore, Prose, True Botanicals, Juice Beauty, Herbivore, 100% Pure, and Biossance. Seriously though, do your research. And if you start to have a reaction to anything, stop right away.
SWITCHING COTTON PADS FOR REUSABLE COTTON PADS
They might be small, but they sure do add up. You throw them out right after you use them and most store-bought cotton balls have pesticides and herbicides in them (yup). Reusable facial pads are great because they will last you a long time and you can throw them into your washer to clean them (or hand wash), and they ultimately will save you money! They come in different materials like bamboo and sustainably sourced organic cotton, or you can make your own from an old t-shirt or flannel. I use toner on my face everyday before I go to bed to get rid of everything off of my face. And I HAD been using single-cotton pads to do that. I knew they weren’t good for the environment and finally made the switch.
SWITCHING LOOFAH FOR NATURAL LUFFA SPONGE
What even are loofahs anyway? Kidding. They’re plastic scrubbers, duh. But they have no reason to be in your bathroom. The best way to wash your body is just with your hands. But I like some exfoliation and to get rid of some nasty dead skin cells, so I got a luffa sponge. Luffa sponges are the fibrous interiors of the fruits of the luffa sponge gourd plant. So they are 100% natural and compostable once you’re done using them. Check out Zero Waste Store, Earth Hero, and Nature’s Garden for your own.
SWITCHING TO A SHAMPOO BAR
I’ve been using shampoo bars for probably almost 3 years now. I have really oily hair and I noticed that regular shampoos just weren’t doing enough for me. My hair would get greasy within a day and I hated having to wash it everyday, and that also isn’t healthy. I started off using LUSH’s shampoo bars (which some people give flack to because it has SLS in it, which isn’t actually as bad for your hair as people think), but I have been experimenting with other bars recently. Because you aren’t putting product directly on your scalp it’s better for your scalp and hair and it does the same thing as normal shampoo, minus all the plastic waste. You should check out Basin, Friendly Soap, Chagrin Valley, Ethique, Public Goods, and Christophe Robin (and there really are tons more out there to chose from, these are just ones I have heard good things about).
Alternative: Switch to shampoo/bodywash with refillable packaging (preferably aluminum). There are quite a few brands out that will provide you with refiller packs (which still have plastic waste but much less than buying a new bottle) or will let you bring in your empty packaging and have it refilled in store or trade it in for a new one while they clean and then reuse the bottle you brought in. If you can’t hop on the bar bandwagon this is the next best thing. Try out Public Goods, Plaine Products, Follain, and Prose.
NO AEROSOL PRODUCTS
I’ve brought up aerosols before, but essentially they emit small particles in the air every time you use them, which affects our air quality and can even affect rainfall patterns. The chemicals used to create this aerosol effect are often not environmentally friendly too, like xylene and formaldehyde (yep you read that right). Not to mention the cans they come in are actually qualified as hazardous waste and have to be disposed of in a particular manner.
I don’t use hairspray pretty much ever anymore, so this for me is something that is so easy to cut out. The only product I use that comes in spray form is my perfume, and it uses a spray bottle with a pump. Another big culprit is dry shampoo—a lot of them come in aerosol bottles. I use this one from LUSH that comes in a bottle and I sprinkle and massage into my scalp. It has truly worked well for me, but there are plenty of other companies out there that do aerosol-free dry shampoo like Ouai, Bumble and Bumble, Klorane, R+Co, and Rahua.
This is another one that I’ve been doing for a while now. First of all, Q-tips should NOT be used to clean the insides of your ear. On every box of q-tips, it actually says, “Do not inset inside the ear canal.” When you use them you are literally pushing the earwax deeper into the ear, which can cause all kinds of problems. And if you’re like ‘ew gross, what about my ear wax?’ In most cases during your shower enough water gets into your ear to loosen the wax and it falls out. You can also use a washcloth with water and soap. And if you NEED your q-tips, please opt for bamboo or organic cotton ones, like these ones from Hydrophil OR Package Free Shop has ones made from rubber and plastic that can be washed and reused.
This is something I finally swapped out about a month ago. I wasn’t just looking to get an all-natural deodorant, I was looking for one that is in compostable packaging or refillable packaging. And yes, there are brands out there that do make this. Check out Follain, Eir NYC, Myro, by Humankind, and Each & Every. I ended up getting one from Meow Meow Tweet (yes this really is the company name). It’s aluminum- and baking powder-free and meant for sensitive skin. I started having allergic reactions to certain deodorants a few years ago, so I went for this one because of the sensitive skin bit. I definitely love how it smells. The texture is a little weird, and it will take a little while to get used to. And I feel like I smell and sweat a lot when I work out, so I’m supplementing it with my regular deodorant that I had left over when I do work out. It’s all about finding what you like and what works.
This was my most recent swap. In case you’ve been living under a rock your whole life you know that toothbrushes are made out of plastic. And you get a new one every time you go to the dentist. So an minimum you have 2 new ones each year. There are a lot of options out there with bamboo handles. They are obviously a natural material and biodegradable. Do note that most of these brushes still have synthetic bristles, so it isn’t 100% biodegradable. Check out Brush With Bamboo, The Environmental Toothbrush, Life Without Plastic, and The Natural Family Co. Bio Toothrbrushes.
I know I still have quite a bit more work to do on sustainifying my beauty routine, and I have a few things I’m going to try and implement over the next few months. And they’re more things you can do too!
STAINLESS STEEL (SAFETY RAZOR)
This is the one I’m most nervous about swapping out. I nick myself when shaving all the time. Alas, I’m also tired of buying razors all the time. With safety razors the handle will last you forever and you only have to replace the blades (which are recyclable). So it seems like a no-brainer. Try out The Art of Shaving, Leaf Shave, and Oui Shave (there are so many more out there). I also have learned Terracycle will let you recycle razors and their packaging with them, so I’m tempted to try this first.
So I didn’t know this going into my research, but floss is actually waxed nylon. Nylon is a synthetic fiber. Aka after you use it it will basically last forever. And it can clog sewer systems and pose a threat to marine animals and sea birds if it makes its way to natural water sources. Ouch. And if you’re flossing daily (idk who really is, but let’s just say once a week), that’s a lot of floss. The good news is there are quite a few floss options out there that are eco-friendly. The two most popular versions are made from silk and bamboo. And most brands will contain their floss in reusable or recyclable packaging (no plastic!). If floss picks are more your style, The Humble Co has picks made out of corn starch. And there is the option of a Waterpik. For that regular floss, check out brands Dental Lace, Georganics, Wowe, Tevra, Lucky Teeth, and Terra & Co.
Obviously toothpaste comes in a plastic tube. Only Toms & Colgate are recyclable through Terracycle, and I don’t use either of those brands. Metal toothpaste tubes are more widely recyclable, but still depends on where you live. The best alternative seems to be powders or capsules, both of which come in glass containers. Or you can even make your own at home. I’m not sure what I’ll try first, but these brands have a good rep: Dirty Hippie, Georganics, Wldental, Bestowed, Denttabs, Bite and Unpaste.
RECYCLED TOILET PAPER
So no, I’m not talking about using toilet paper that has already been used. That’s just gross and unhygienic. I’m talking about toilet paper made from recycled post-consumer waste paper (things like textbooks, workbooks, office paper, etc.). Check out brands Who Gives a Crap and Seventh Generation.
SWAPPING OUT BODYWASH
I already took the plunge with shampoo, now it’s time for my body as well. I have been wanting to do this for a while but had a jumbo bottle of Philosophy body wash that has lasted me for a year that I wanted to get rid of first. The options for body bar soap are infinite, and with the right oils and ingredients they can help with any of your wants (like acne, dry skin, exfoliation, etc.)
Let me know if there are other swaps that you have made that I might have missed here in the comments. Would love to learn more about what you’re doing and what products you love!