Beauty and grooming routines are an everyday process for most of us, however, they can have a detrimental impact on our planet. Packaging is one of the largest problems when it comes to our beauty products, producing tons of waste that most often ends up in landfills or even places it shouldn’t be, like the ocean! Beauty products also threaten our planet in other ways, for example, toxic chemicals in some of our products are washed down the drain which can damage aquatic ecosystems and products made from palm oil are contributing to deforestation. So if you are an ethical consumer looking to make more sustainable purchases, look no further!
First things first, you will need to be able to recognize a sustainable brand (which can be tricky). A beauty product or brand may be considered sustainable by looking at all or one of the different aspects contributing to a product – whether it be the ingredients in the product, the production process, packaging, shipping and distribution, and recycling options offered. Another great tip is to do your research – check out the brand’s website. If they have a commitment to sustainability and are transparent about their ingredients and where they are sourced, packaging, and distribution, they can probably be trusted.
Go bare-faced. The best option for the planet is to of course go makeup-free (which will not only benefit the planet, but also your wallet), even if it’s a few times a week, a month, or a year. The less products you use and the less often you use them, the better!
Make the transition organically. If you are considering implementing a completely sustainable beauty routine, don’t just throw away all the products you currently have! As you continue using and finishing products, you can gradually make the switch to new, environmentally-friendly products. Another option is to donate your unwanted products to women’s shelters, hospice centers, and old folks homes – someone will appreciate the donation! It’s easiest to switch out products that you have less brand-loyalty to, and switching to sustainable soaps and body washes is easier than finding sustainable face creams that meet your exact skin requirements.
Look at the ingredients. When shopping for beauty products, avoid palm oils, petroleum-derived ingredients (paraffin oil, propylene glycol and ethylene), and microplastics like glitters and polyethylene. Instead look for natural and organic ingredients such as beeswax, cocoa butter, algae, and vegetable oils. To tell if a product’s ingredients are sourced sustainably, look out for the Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance logos on the packaging. You can also look for vegan and cruelty-free logos too.
Look for eco-friendly packaging. Eco-friendly packaging can include a number of things. Unpackaged products are the best option; bars of soap, shampoo bars, bath bombs, and other products often come unpackaged at stores like Lush and Rocky Mountain Soap Company, or from local artisans at the Farmer’s Market. Another option is biodegradable or compostable packaging. Brands like Elate (a Canadian brand) package their products in bamboo packaging rather than traditional plastic packaging, which can be put in your compost bin afterwards. Recyclable packaging is also available; some brands produce packaging made from aluminum or glass, which are easier to recycle than plastics. Another eco-friendly packaging alternative is refill or in-business recycling programs. Brands like Rocky Mountain Soap Company have in-business recycling programs, in which they clean and refill their packaging. If you use a product often, consider buying the product in bulk if they have the option; this will allow you to produce less waste in the end by skipping out on many tiny units of the same product.
Buy local and domestic. If your new sustainable beauty brand is made of natural ingredients and is packaged in bamboo, but it is from Europe, it might not be all that sustainable. The emissions from shipping and distribution is another thing to consider, so shop local and domestic first!
Make your products last. To minimize what you’re sending to the landfill, pick quality products that will last you and be mindful of how much product you’re using (a little bit can go a long way). Also, be sure to properly store your products – keep them away from moisture and direct sunlight. Some beauty products, like eye creams and face mists, can also be kept in your fridge to make them last longer.
Opt for multi-purpose products. To limit your footprint in terms of packaging and resources, consider switching to multi-use products. These can include lip and cheek stains, using eyebrow pencils as eyeliner, using bronzer as eyeshadow, and any other creative ideas.
Simplify your skincare routine. We all want beautiful skin, but serums, creams, exfoliants, toners, cleansers, moisturisers… that’s all a bit excessive! Try to stick to a few products that you like and ditch everything else. This also has the added bonus of saving you money!
Swap your tools too. Don’t just stop at your products, consider other eco-friendly alternatives in your beauty routine. These can include reusable washcloths instead of makeup wipes, stainless steel razors instead of disposable plastic ones, and makeup brushes made from sustainable materials like bamboo.
Recycle your packaging. If your packaging cannot be refused or reused (there are many DIYS online), properly recycle what you can. Check out the City of Lethbridge’s Ins and Outs of curbside recycling to see what packaging you can recycle. Be sure recyclable containers are completely washed before placing them in your blue bin. TerraCycle also offers free recycling of all beauty product packaging. Or, like we spoke about earlier, look for brands that have in-business recycling programs. Some wildlife conservations will even accept donations of washed mascara wands to clean wildlife!
If we put as much care into our planet as we do our beauty routines, our planet would be in a much better state. Imagine the difference each of us could make if we all made an effort to incorporate just a few of these simple steps into our daily beauty and grooming routines!