10 Easy Sustainable Beauty Tips You Can Start Today

Why and How to Start a Sustainable Beauty Routine

What do some of the best ethical beauty brands have in common? 

It’s not just their focus on cruelty free skincare, vegan or plant-based products, and fair trade policies for sourcing ingredients; it’s the ever-growing focus on sustainable skincare that is driving the latest shift in the beauty world. The ingredients used, the final products, and the skincare containers all have many sustainable beauty options for both producers and consumers. 

What exactly do we mean by zero waste skincare and sustainable cosmetics?

Corporate Philosophy and Corporate Ethics Matter A Lot!

Building a brand from the ground-up provides advantages for companies starting out. This enables them to write ethics and sustainability into their core values from their pre-launch phase and forever moving forward.

Having a strong mission and vision allows the best ethical beauty brands to build their deal breaker list into their company right from day 1. For them, being a cruelty free cosmetics brand or a zero waste beauty brand receives a higher priority than the financial bottom line. Profit and growth are still possible when intentional decisions are made from the beginning. However, customer support is obviously needed too!

So how do consumers support the Green Beauty Movement?

Shop for products from large distributors that make identification of these brands easy - Sephora, with their Clean at Sephora program, and The Detox Market are two great examples of places you will find easily identified products that prioritize ethics, sustainability, (absence of) animal testing/cruelty, and the use of safe, clean ingredients. 

But also, don't forget about the little guy.

While there’s nothing wrong with using big stores and distributors, there is a huge indie beauty brand industry filled with amazing companies that aren’t yet big enough to be carried by large retail outlets. These newer, boutique companies can often be identified by following beauty bloggers and reading clean beauty reviews.

Don’t shy away from trying products from companies aren’t branded as clinically tested, the cost is very high and not always accessible to smaller brands. Clinical testing is not the same as safety testing. Some clinical testing is really just paid marketing. If you read the ingredient list and are informed about your own skin needs/sensitivities, then the fact that the brand hasn’t been able to afford a dermatologist to approve it, doesn’t change whether the product is what you’re looking for. Additionally, we suggest avoiding brands that don’t have clear and easy returns policies, because the only true results about allergies/irritation are known once you try it yourself.

We imagine a time when the anti-plastic, zero-waste movement creates so much pressure that better material prices become comparable to plastic. The only way for plastic alternative materials to become cheaper is for there to be more consumer pressure demanding it. Aligning your values with your purchasing decisions requires a bit of legwork on your part - visit the brand’s website, call or email them, make sure they provide enough details for you to trust they are truly sustainable and not greenwashing.

Consumers need to align their values with their shopping priorities. Then spread the word! Indie beauty brands get discovered by word of mouth and social media.

reusable cotton rounds, makeup remover pads

Getting Started with Green Beauty.

10 Easy Sustainable Beauty Skincare Tips:

TIP #1: NEVER USE ANY PRODUCTS WITH MICROBEADS

Facial scrubs with biodegradable abrasives are just as (if not more) effective. Things like jojoba oil beads and bamboo stem powder will gently exfoliate and not accumulate in the environment. You could skip the scrub altogether and switch to a konjac sponge which is also a great exfoliating option. Thankfully more and more countries are banning these awful ingredients, but it’s important to be on the lookout.

 

TIP #2 BUY CRUELTY FREE OR VEGAN

The importance of cruelty free skincare can’t be emphasized enough. Know that some green or clean beauty brands are subsidiaries of larger parent corporations who still use animal testing. The Leaping Bunny Program is excellent because they require companies not only to certify that the products are cruelty free, but they also audit suppliers and do random checks to confirm truthfulness.

 

TIP #3: SWAP OUT ALL THE PLASTIC YOU CAN

Cork is an excellent renewable resource and we hope to see it used more to replace plastic fabric (ie. cosmetics or toiletry bags). Natural bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and are great alternatives to plastic toothbrushes. Glass dropper vials and aluminum lotion bottles are also both good, recyclable replacements for plastic skincare containers.

  

TIP #4: UP YOUR GAME WITH SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY PRODUCTS 

Switch to reusable cotton makeup remover pads or bamboo face pads. These ultra soft pads can be washed and used endlessly and will also save you a lot of money over the years. Other ideas are: bamboo makeup brushes and products that reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing ingredients from local producers.

Remember to use up what you have first and don't replace things until they need replacing. Consumerism is a huge problem. Just choose something more sustainable when the time comes. 

Bamboo toothbrushes almost always have nylon bristles. Yes, these are plastic. Yes, they're still a problem. But if the world throws away 3.5 billion toothbrushes per year, changing from plastic to bamboo will still make a major difference. Hopefully soon we will have truly biodegradable alternatives to make the bamboo toothbrush more sustainable.  

 

TIP #5: USE EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO THE LAST DROP

Most people are very surprised to find out that they often have over 1 month’s worth of product left inside the bottle or tube that they think is almost empty. If you replace a product when you still have a month’s supply left you are literally throwing money in the garbage. Over the years, the added costs to you are enormous.

 

TIP #6: REUSE, REPURPOSE, UPCYCLE CONTAINERS 

So many great ideas out there on pinterest and so many creative ways to get more life out of packaging and containers.

 

TIP #7: ALWAYS RECYCLE OR COMPOST PROPERLY

When you’re done with things then be sure to recycle or compost appropriately for your container. Be sure to rinse it out and place it in the proper waste stream. If you aren’t sure, you may need to check with your city (about their guidelines) or the company (about their products). 

And don't forget to recycle your bathroom plastics. Only 10% of all plastic gets properly recycled and for some reason bathroom plastics (ie. shampoo bottles) are much much lower than 10%. Take the extra minute. Put a recycling bin in your bathroom so you don’t forget.

 

TIP #8: BETTER YET, TRY SHAMPOO BARS

Eliminating plastic is always a better option and shampoo bars are amazing replacements! Other concentrated waterless products are also a good switch for your sustainable lifestyle - dish soap bars and laundry detergent strips are great examples  

 

TIP #9: HAVE A BEAUTY BFF

Beauty buddies are great for so many things and sharing is caring! We all have a cosmetics graveyard filled with products we stopped using for one reason or another. Swapping is like the ultimate free sample, BUT be cautious! Shelf life and contamination could be a problem if you don’t choose your approach wisely. Any product that touches your body directly (ie. mascara brush) would not be a great item to swap (except for all those lipsticks you tried only once…). Products that are dispensed by pump, pouring, or droppers are your best bet for this reuse tactic. 

Speaking of samples, consider cancelling your subscription box of minis/samples. The ultimate serotonin burst every month…  but samples are the quickest things into the cosmetics graveyard and they are all single use plastic. At the very least, split the subscription with your beauty buddy, don’t get 2. 

 

TIP #10: DON'T WASTE WATER or HEAT

It’s an enormous privilege that so many of us don’t really have to worry, but the earth does. So when you’re using that new natural bamboo toothbrush or removing your makeup with your reusable cotton rounds, turn that tap off! Also, don’t use hot water, it’s better for your skin and your heating bill.

 

Bonus TIP:

Buy less stuff (gasp!)... it’s easy to get addicted to trying new things or to fall in love with the idea of something. Like our suggestion to give up accepting mini samples, the easiest way to reduce waste and live plastic free is to just have less stuff. Minimalism = Skinimalism. The beauty industry knows that little samples and impulse shopping drive their profits through the roof. They also know you’ll buy extra stuff just to qualify for free shipping.  

If you do feel like shopping and want to get started with some sustainable items, check out our Zero Waste Beauty Starter Kit.


Sustainable beauty and simple skincare doesn't have to be boring. Taking a natural approach is great for both your face and our earth.
And remember, the world needs millions of people to make the effort and try their best. Perfection is the enemy of good. 

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