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 many ways we can implement changes to make our Beauty and Personal Care routines more sustainable.
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 that 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 Easy Ways to Make Your Beauty Habits More Sustainable
1 | Ask for samples to avoid returning cosmetics or skincare products
This first suggestion pertains more to my American friends, given that not all countries allow makeup to be returned. Also, I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for returning a product that doesn’t work for him or her OR for returning a product that produced an allergic reaction.
However, I recommend taking steps to ensure that you’ll enjoy a product before you purchase it. More specifically, try to ask for free samples of cream or liquid products whenever possible. By trying a sample product, you are better able to assess whether you like a formula or whether a shade will work for you.
Why are returns wasteful? Simply put, retailers cannot resell any returned beauty products. Therefore, these items end up in the trash. Moreover, the rising popularity of dumpster diving has caused many beauty retailers to destroy products before they toss them into the trash.
2 | Avoid aerosol-based facial sprays and hairsprays
Traditionally, aerosol sprays contained ingredients that depleted the ozone layer. While aerosols sold in the US are prohibited, not all countries prohibit these types of aerosols. More importantly, aerosol sprays are be difficult to recycle. In fact, not all recycling centers in the US can properly break these down.
3 | Consider trying plastic-free personal care products
I love that brands like LUSH are pioneering a new genre of entirely plastic-free beauty products. Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars are more environmentally friendly than their packaged alternatives. Also, they are a non-irritating option for individuals with ultra sensitive scalps. Finally, they are handy for anyone who travels frequently, but doesn’t want to check a a bag.
4 | Try bamboo toothbrushes and plant or silk-based dental floss
How many of us think about how our toothbrushes and dental flosses are made entirely out of plastic? I know that I didn’t actually think about my toothbrush waste until this year. However, there are some awesome bamboo-based and silk-based dental flosses on the market.
5 | Purchase Reef-Safe Sunscreen
Did you know that many sunscreens can contribute to coral bleaching? More specifically, the ingredient, Oxybenzone, is a known contributor to coral bleaching. Click here to read more about the impact of sunscreen on coral reefs.
Want to go beyond these 5 easy sustainable beauty swaps? Check out this post featuring brands that reward you for recycling.
Considerations Before Making the Swap
Having a passion or sudden interest in making sustainable swaps 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.
In other words, don’t spend beyond your means. Sustainable options are often more expensive than more traditional goods because they are investments that will last a long time. Although it may be tempting to make sustainable purchases all at once, don’t spend beyond your means.
Assess 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.
First, Use What You Own
Before investing in sustainable goods, it is much better to use up what you already own. Do not just toss out the less sustainable alternative in order to purchase something new. For example, if you already own a ton of single-use cotton rounds, use up what you own. Then, incorporate your new sustainable alternatives into your routine.
Takeaways on the 5 Easy Ways to Make Your Beauty Habits More Sustainable
As always, don’t send yourself on a guilt trip if you don’t follow all of these tips. Even a small change can help to reduce your environmental impact.
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 can make more sustainable choices.
Have you tried any of these 5 Easy Ways to Make Your Beauty Habits More Sustainable or would you consider making any of these swaps in the future? Let me know in the comments below.0