As a Taurus and self-professed lover of luxury, I enjoy feeling pampered. However, I try to ensure that my own indulgences never come at the cost of the environment. That’s why I swear by sustainable skincare for all my beauty needs. If you already care enough about the planet to rock hemp underwear and favor other natural materials and hemp products, then making your beauty routine more eco-friendly should be a snap. There are many greener beauty products on the market today (like hemp soap for example), so you won’t have to jump through many hoops to clean up your skincare routine.
That said, you can’t only rely on brands to tell you which products are the best for both your skin and the planet (because they aren’t always telling the complete truth, gasp). I’m here to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make smart choices in the effort to make your skincare routine more sustainable. Let’s get right to it!
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE SKINCARE?
The first order of business is, of course, understanding what makes skincare sustainable. Or, to backtrack even further, what even is sustainability? To put it simply, leading a sustainable lifestyle means making choices with the environment in mind. It means avoiding plastic and toxic ingredients. It means going the extra mile to familiarize yourself with the mission and ethics of a certain brand or company before purchasing from them.
Now, more specifically, what is sustainable skincare? A lot of it comes down to the products themselves:
- Are they made of natural ingredients?
- Do they come in sustainable skincare packaging or can the plastic packaging be repurposed?
- Are the ingredients responsibly sourced?
- Is the production of the product ethical?
Your choices and approaches are also essential to making your routine more sustainable:
- Do you use more products than you actually need?
- Do you finish a product completely before repurchasing a new one?
Greenwashing is a big issue these days. Companies know that the trend of sustainability isn’t going away anytime soon but their commitment to the cause isn’t often genuine. This is a big reason why simply buying products that are marketed as “sustainable” or “natural” is often not enough. I’ll give you some tips to help you avoid greenwashing (it can be tough!), but first, let’s talk a bit about why sustainable skincare is a good choice for the planet and your skin.
WHY USE SUSTAINABLE SKINCARE?
Did you know the beauty industry has a huge impact on the environment? For instance, the beauty industry is a huge contributor to the world’s non-biodegradable waste, producing around 120 billion units of plastic packaging each year. Plastic waste is a big environmental concern. A lot of it ends up in our oceans and breaks down into microplastics which then get mistaken for food by marine life and birds.
To make matters worse, the beauty industry is also a significant contributor to water waste and consumption. Many beauty products are made up of 60% to 80% water which is used to dilute thick, active ingredients (such as plant oils and butters). Not only is this process wasteful, it also significantly lowers the performance of the active ingredients thus requiring you to use more of the product (because of course it does). This results in using up the product quickly, repurchasing more often, and creating even more plastic waste…you get the picture.
Environmental impact aside, traditional skincare is known to contain some nasty chemicals. Products containing these chemicals put you at a higher risk of skin irritation and inflammation as well as more serious, prolonged health risks. Of course, some synthetic ingredients are unavoidable when it comes to skincare, especially if you’re looking for products with specific effects (such as wrinkle smoothing or spot treatments).
As you can see, these are some seriously good reasons to switch to sustainable skin care! I’m not telling you it’s gonna be easy, though—but I promise it will be worth it.
HOW TO MAKE SKINCARE MORE SUSTAINABLE
We’ve all got different skin types and needs so there really isn’t a one size fits approach. It will probably take some research and experimentation to figure out which ingredients are the best for your skin. However, there are some easy things you can do to start making your beauty rituals more eco-friendly. Follow these tips to detoxify your skincare routine!
1. GO FOR NATURAL INGREDIENTS
I’ve already given you a bit of a rundown on the intricacies of natural and synthetic ingredients in beauty products. It’s not always best to pick a product that is 100% natural. That all depends on the effect you’re trying to achieve.
Many beauty products do contain ingredients that you definitely want to avoid applying to your skin because they’re not the safest or they’re just really unsustainable. This includes things such as palm oil or microplastics that are present in certain scrubs and exfoliants.
The Think Dirty App is a great resource for making the process of identifying clean ingredients a bit easier. It allows you to scan any product, and then analyzes the ingredients that might not be ideal for use on your skin.
2. DRAIN EVERY LAST DROP OF EACH PRODUCT
I want everyone to activate their stingy, frugal instincts. It’s easy to abandon a product once the squeezy tube is no longer giving satisfying squeezes or the lipstick runs out to the point that you can’t apply it anymore. When it comes to that, reach for those scissors and cut those tubes open! Grab a little spoon or your trusty fingernail and scrape the remainder of that lipstick out because that shade really does suit you so well!
Sure, it won’t prolong the life of your product for that much longer, but every last drop counts! If you spend your entire life repurchasing one product then eventually those few drops that you throw away would add up to an entire tube.
3. CUT DOWN THE STEPS IN YOUR ROUTINE
I’ll admit, my skincare routine is maybe just a half step above that of your average, hopeless straight man (sorry boys, it’s true) so it’s easy for me to say this. The thing is, I’m sure we all have a few products that make our skin and hearts sing while everything else is just applied out of habit.
Try to think more critically about the products you use. Ask yourself:
- Which products really work for you and make a noticeable difference?
- Which ones would you leave at home when packing for a week-long trip?
- Do you really need an eight-step routine, morning and night?
- Are there any products that could be combined into one step?
The answers might surprise you! And once you’re able to simplify your routine, your make-up cabinet/ bag will be much lighter and more sustainable!
(Disclaimer! Obviously, don’t throw away the non-essential products. Use them up and simply don’t repurchase them again.)
4. OPT FOR NON-PLASTIC PACKAGING
Most beauty and skincare products are packaged in some form of plastic. Obviously, that is no bueno. Plastic is a big old problem (that we seem to be doing very little to mitigate, ugh). Luckily, there are several brands dedicated to using sustainable skincare packaging.
This packaging is usually biodegradable plastic derived from plant ingredients. It functions the same as plastic so it’s able to be used to make applicators and the like. For things that require less fancy packaging, you can always try to opt for glass jars and vials. Those products may be more expensive, but you can easily reuse the packaging.
5. BE AWARE OF WHERE THE PRODUCTS ARE SOURCED
If a company is really dedicated to being sustainable and ethical, you’ll know from perusing its website and social media. Any brand can use some buzzwords and make it seem like their products are “green.” Avoiding greenwashing and sketchy practices certainly requires some effort on your part.
Before purchasing a skincare product, become aware of the supply chain. If a brand isn’t completely transparent about every step of production, it could suggest improper working conditions for the people harvesting ingredients and creating the products. Purchasing locally sourced and produced skincare products is the easiest way to avoid any ethical kerfuffles that often come with more “exotic” ingredients.
6. REPURPOSE EMPTY CONTAINERS
I am a little container hoarder. We should all be little container hoarders because we often need little containers to store our silly human trinkets. Even if you think that saving a little jar or tube is ridiculous, I challenge you to do it anyway. Then find something to put in it. Even just some flowers like the photo above. It might add some whimsy into your life and you’ll have created less waste.
7. AVOID SINGLE USE ITEMS
Single-use items are rarely a smart choice these days. Mainly because for almost anything you can think of there's a version that exists and is multi-use. Disposable razors, for example. No thank you! There are many awesome reusable razors out there. You still have to replace the blades but that’s a whole lot less waste than throwing out a whole razor every 5 shaves. Or, if you wanna be super sustainable, you can try to find out what happens if you never shave your legs.
Single-use sheet face masks are another popular single-use culprit. Try a hemp face mask or go for a face mask in a jar. Honestly, those seem more effective anyway!
8. HAVE A SPACE FOR RECYCLABLES IN YOUR BATHROOM
This is a tip I have personally never considered. Shame on me! I have a recycling bin in my kitchen. Why shouldn’t there be one in the bathroom?! As I said, most beauty and skincare products come packaged in plastic and if all you’ve got in your bathroom is a trash can then the instinct is to throw the empties right in there. That’s not the best practice because many of those containers actually are recyclable!
9. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR WATER USAGE
This is a double-layered tip. Two for the price of one. The obvious part is to use less water when washing your face. Try keeping the faucet on for as little time as possible, or using a bowl to wash between the steps of your routine (if that’s required). Or, you can just wash your face in the shower and then perform the dry steps of your skincare routine by your bathroom sink.
The other side of minding your water consumption is considering purchasing products that are water-free. As I mentioned before, most beauty products contain a ridiculous level of water. However, there are many brands out there creating products using only the active ingredients necessary to make the product effective, such as bar shampoo bars or waterless facial cleansers.
SUSTAINABLE SKINCARE: CONCLUSION
That’s all, folks! You should be ready to face the daunting task of making your skincare routine more sustainable (and hopefully, it feels much less daunting now)! Remember, not all products marketed as eco friendly beauty products are actually all that eco-friendly. Use your own judgment, research skills, and the guidance from the tips I shared to pick products that will suit all your needs!
How sustainable is your skincare routine, currently? Are you inspired to make any changes? Do you have any additional tips? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!