From adding a recycling bin to your bathroom to seeking out sustainably sourced ingredients, these small switches to your product habits can make a big difference...
Once pigeonholed as a category for the supremely sensitive or devoutly ethical, eco-friendly beauty is having a major moment right now.
Why? Well, when you hear that more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, much of which is not recyclable, the climate anxiety kicks in.
The majority of beauty products come packaged in plastic, which – when talking about your average eye cream pot – can take nearly 1,000 years to decompose. Then there’s the plastic wrappings, paper inserts, cardboard sleeves, foam, mirrored glass and more, sometimes all present in just the one product.
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Of the product packaging we can recycle, half of us don’t. Research from Garnier found that over 56 per cent of people in the UK (that’s 4.5 million people) don’t recycle bathroom products because of the inconvenience. Then there's the sustainability of ingredients, testing on animals and planet-damaging chemicals.
However, beauty companies both big and small are beginning to clean their act.
Thanks to high-tech advances in formulating natural ingredients and the growing crop of naturally-minded brands making their way onto our shelves, we are now able to enjoy skincare, haircare and make-up products that not only do us good but do the planet good too.
To ensure you’re doing your bit, try these simple swaps for a greener beauty regime.
Stop Wasting Wipes
Worst beauty product for both your skin and the environment? Face Wipes. While they may slough away waterproof mascara and are convenient meaning you don't have to leave your bed to take off your face, they're killing our planet.
For those who want to avoid single-use products and do their bit for the environment, there’s another option that is kinder to your skin and the planet.
Microfibre towelettes - like this one by The SkinNerd - work by using cold or warm water, to loosen your makeup. Thirty times thinner than cotton fibres, the mitt is covered in tiny loops which will break the surface tension that binds oil and makeup to the skin’s surface. They can be washed a multitude of times before needing to be replaced saving you serious coin and sparing the environment from thousands.
Plastic - Not So Fanstastic
Our oceans are being overrun by bathroom waste - and not the kind you're thinking. We're talking about the plastic products we discard on the daily - plastic toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and disposable razors. Every plastic razor and toothbrush you've ever used in your life still exists somewhere on this earth and they will outlive you.
Do Your Skin A Solid
There was once a very good reason to be wary of washing your face with a bar of soap - pH. Bar soaps used to be made more for "normal" skin. But as plastic waste and sustainability become growing concerns in the beauty community, many are looking to make a switch to a bottle-less beauty routine. Cue the bar soap renaissance.
The good news is that bar soap formulations have come a long way, with options in spades. And, even better, come packed with innovative actives and oils to target whatever your specific concern might be.
AA: Aluminium Awareness
Clearly, going cosmetic packaging-free is the ideal option for the environment but there’s no denying that 'naked' cosmetics are not for everyone and there is a demand for packaging that’s both aesthetically and environmentally pleasing.
While we all know we should pass on plastic, not everyone is aware of the alternative options. Aluminium is the only material that can be recycled on an infinite loop (allowing it to be reused in the same form again and again).
Into Bin Air
Think about your kitchen, how many bins does it have? Two, Three? Now think to your bathroom? Just the one? Research from Garnier found that over 56 per cent of people in the UK (that’s 4.5 million people) don’t recycle bathroom products because of the inconvenience.
Making sure you have a recycling bin to hand is obvious, but often overlooked. Invest in a bathroom recycling bin for starters, and for those products that you aren’t sure how to recycle, look to your favourite beauty brands like Mac, Origins and Kiehls who reward you for returning old products. Also, think about how you can upcycle your empty products. From using jars and bottles as vases and vessels for your hair accessories and make-up brushes, beauty products can also be upcycled. Just look to Pinterest for endless ideas.
Quit Single-Use Products
No matter how wearable each shade in a palette may be, there will always be one that hits pan ahead of the rest. When that happens, you bin that palette with plenty of product to only go out and buy the entire palette again - not anymore.
Invest in refillable beauty products and take advantage of companies offering refill schemes. Look to brands such as L'Occitane, Rituals, Kat Von D, Le Labo, Sculpted By Aimee Connolly, Hourglass and more.
Nothing Should Suffer For The Sake Of Your Skin
Sure, that lipstick is beautiful but is it really worth harming - or worse, killing - animals for? With more and more brands putting an end to animal testing and even more becoming vegan, shopping ethically has never been easier. And it's not just animal life you should be protecting, wildlife too. The sustainability of ingredients used in beauty products is another area of environmental concern, from how they’re sourced to the long-term impact of farming them for cosmetic purposes. Palm oil for example, which is used in approximately half of all consumer goods, is causing widespread deforestation plus the extinction of many animal species.
To avoid adding to the problem, the best way to identify if a product’s ingredients have been sustainably sourced and if the product is kind to animals, is to look out for the Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance logos on the packaging.
Main image by @intothegloss on Instagram