As a beauty-lover, I often feel I pang of guilt at how my unsustainable purchasing patterns and personal care habits are affecting the environment around me – and I’m not alone in my thoughts. Research conducted by the leading market research group, Mintel, indicates that sustainability is a growing concern amongst millennial consumers. But what can we do to reduce our environmental impact?
There are a number of ways we can implement changes to make our Beauty and Personal Care routines more sustainable. Please keep reading for 5 simple sustainable beauty swaps that can reduce the environmental impact of your beauty routine.
Helpful Sustainability Vocabulary
- Biodegradable: a term which refers to a product’s ability to break down naturally in the environment via bacteria or other living organisms; note: in the US, this term is not regulated, so many brands can falsely claim they sell biodegradable products
- Single-Use: a term which refers to a product which may be used once before being thrown out. Examples include Q-Tips, plastic plates, makeup remover wipes
- Sustainable: products that are eco-conscious and focused on maintaining ecological balance through ethical and biodegradable ingredient sourcing that avoids natural resource overconsumption
5 Simple Sustainable Beauty Swaps
1 | Swap single-use cotton-rounds for cloth cotton rounds or face cloths that can be washed and reused
Rather than buying cotton rounds that need to be disposed after one use, consider investing in multi-use, washable cloth cotton rounds or specialty face cloths that are intended for makeup removal.
2 | Swap single-use facial wipes for cleansing oil/milk, face wash, or micellar water
If you still use facial wipes to remove your makeup, consider switching to a more sustainable alternative such as a cleansing oil, milk, or balm, a heavy duty face wash, or a micellar water. These cleansing methods are more sustainable because one they create less waste than a traditional wipe.
3 | If possible, swap makeup removers overall for micro-fiber clothes that only need water to remove makeup
If you can, consider ditching makeup remover and single use cotton rounds altogether! Instead, invest in a Makeup Eraser (or similar clothes) that only require water to gently, but thoroughly remove makeup. Using clothes like this can eliminate waste.
4 | Swap individually packaged sheet masks for DIY sheet masks or Bio-Cellulose sheet masks
Rather than opting for a sheet mask that needs to be tossed after one use or that is individually wrapped in plastic, consider making your own DIY sheet masks using cotton cloths or consider trying a Bio-Cellulose sheet mask.
5 | Swap traditional plastic-based blotting papers for rice or bamboo/plant-based blotting sheets
It never occurred to me that my beloved blotting papers were made of plastic. Consider using a plant-based alternative that is made with bamboo or rice paper…
Or ditch the wipes altogether and opt for single-ply toilet paper or tissues. The latter option is more sustainable, and more cost effective.
Considerations Before Making Sustainable Beauty Swaps
There are many sustainable beauty swaps that can reduce the impact of your beauty routine. It can be tempting to try to make all of these changes at once. Having a passion or sudden interest in making sustainable swaps in your beauty routine is a wonderful feeling, but there are definite considerations to keep in mind before making any transitions:
- Research, Research, Research | Before you buy any new, sustainable goods, conduct your own research to figure out what brands or products will be easiest to incorporate into your lifestyle.
- Lookout for Green-washing | In the US, many terms such as “sustainable,” “biodegradable,” “natural,” and “organic” aren’t officially regulated which means that major corporations can use these terms to advertise their products without offering a solution that is actually better for the environment.
- Be Price-Conscious | Don’t spend beyond your means. Sustainable options are often more expensive than more traditional goods. They are investments meant to last a long time.
- Think About What is Feasible For You | Think about your abilities and your lifestyle. Deep down, if you know in your heart-of-hearts that something won’t be a good fit for you, don’t buy it.
- Don’t Just Toss Out Your Unsustainable Goods | Use up what you already own; then buy a sustainable alternative. Do not just toss out the less sustainable items you own. For example, if you already own single-use cotton rounds or makeup wipes, use or donate them. Then purchase a sustainable option.
Takeaways on Making Sustainable Beauty Swaps
In the words of my favorite sustainability vlogger, Shelbizleee:
You cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do.
What does this mean? Small changes make a huge impact over time. I may not be the most sustainable beauty blogger out there, but there are small changes that I can make that will make a difference over time!
Also, don’t feel guilted into making expensive purchases in the name of sustainability. Think about what you can manage financially and what you’ll actually end up using in your daily life. Use up what you already have and then begin to implement small changes.
When it comes to your personal care routine, make sustainable beauty swaps where and when you you can.
Disclaimer: Please note, I recognize that these sustainable swaps or alternative ways of doing things may not be viable for everyone due to personal finances or ability-status. I am in no way passing judgment on anyone’s habits or purchases but sharing this post to inspire those who are able to make more sustainable choices.
For another sustainability focused post, check out this post on Starbucks’ elimination of plastic straws.
Have you tried any of these sustainable personal care swaps or would you consider making any of these swaps in the future? Let me know in the comments below.