When I first became aware of - and subsequently interested in - the world of zero waste around six years ago, it felt to me like the extent of zero waste beauty offerings was confined to some fairly uninspiring variations on coconut oil for every part of the body. Happily, the zero waste space has evolved considerably in the intervening period. At the heart of things, the issue I have is that I’m a conventional person who enjoys conventional beauty products (and who is still haunted by a painful and laborious attempt to remove a DIY coconut oil hair mask), but who would still like to reduce her environmental footprint.

I’ll be the first to admit my beauty routine, and life more broadly, is far from zero waste: I’ve yet to make the switch to a shampoo bar and I’m not mentally ready to bin my trusty tube of Colgate to make way for toothpaste tabs. But trying to reduce one’s waste, even by a little, is a worthwhile endeavour; perfect is, as they say, the enemy of the good. Below, my favourite zero waste beauty products that won’t make you miss the convenience of more traditional offerings.

I had resigned myself to being a Mitchum-only type of person and was fearful about venturing beyond my tried-and-tested go-to. But Asuvi’s range of deodorants came across my desk last year and it’s been love ever since. Their brand is based on such a clever concept: you purchase a tube that can subsequently be endlessly refilled – and the refills come in cardboard packaging that, along with obviously being recyclable, can be composted at home. I highly rate their range of surprisingly sophisticated scents to choose from, and I can personally vouch for their effectiveness – they’re even workout-proof.

Cotton pads: this was really one of the simplest and easiest swaps I adopted way back when and haven’t really thought about since (the same goes for flannels for cleansing – I’d never look back). I use these cotton rounds from Bare & Co to remove eye makeup, as well as to apply liquid toners and exfoliants. They’re a budget-friendly swap as well, especially if you consider that you will have yours for years: mine are five or six years old, and I expect I’ll have them for many more to come. I do still keep disposable pads for removing nail polish, although a suggestion for a more sustainable option here would be appreciated.

Many zero waste beauty products will save you money, because they are reusable products that replace disposable ones you would have had to continue repurchasing (see the cotton pads above). Others, like this compostable dental floss, are pricier than their conventional counterparts which can be initially off-putting. But given every piece of regular dental floss you have ever used is still in existence (they can take up to actual centuries to degrade), I think you could happily afford to pay more here, especially if you recoup a bit of your beauty budget on other more economic zero waste swaps. Radius’s offering is a bit thicker than your conventional floss, but is sturdy (a common gripe with non-plastic flosses) and does the job. Plus, its green tea jasmine flavouring makes for an interesting (and delicious!) twist on the usual.

I’d been interested in trying SunButter since we interviewed environmental activist and model Laura Wells and she shared it as her favourite SPF. It was formulated by two marine biologists who wanted to make the ultimate reef-friendly sunscreen, and while I haven’t always gotten along well with physical sunscreens in the past, this one absorbs far more easily and leaves very little white cast compared to many other zinc oxide formulations I’ve tried. My colleague pointed out the inclusion of coconut oil, which might not suit acneic skins, but works beautifully on my drier complexion. And it comes housed in a satisfyingly recyclable (or reusable!) metal tin.

For hair removal I’m trying to ease myself into using an epilator, which is certainly an eco-friendly option but one I find excruciating to use, at least at first: it’s supposed to become less painful the longer you use it, so I guess I’ll just have to push through. But until I muster up the required courage, I’ve swapped my disposable razor heads for an elegantly weighty – and low-waste – safety razor from Bare & Co. It’s a handsome old-school beauty, isn’t it? The razor handle never needs replacing, while the metal blades can be recycled via TerraCycle. I actually find that it gives a closer shave than the razors I’ve favoured in the past, so it’s truly a win-win option.

Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding shot via Instagram @ashleygraham

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