From plastic-fantastic packaging to ethically ambiguous ingredients, our beauty routines can be bad news for the environment. Luckily, we’re all becoming more savvy about what’s sustainable, and looking for better options when buying beauty products. If you want to help the planet while looking and feeling your best, read on! We break down some of the more eco-friendly options for your beauty routine, step-by-step.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @NINA

Cleansing and Moisturizing

Start your day on a positive note and spend some time looking after your best asset – your skin. A good skincare regime is a must, before and after makeup (if you wear it). Glowing skin allows you to look even more amazing with less makeup, and the most sustainable option is, after all, to use fewer products!

When applying or removing products, it’s a great idea to make the switch to biodegradable cotton rounds.  You might already know that cotton is biodegradable and plant-based, but is that enough to say it’s environmentally friendly? We’ve recently learned that to produce a kilo of cotton requires around 20,000 liters of water. Too much water waste can contribute to water shortages and ultimately result in the decline of many species, and the use of pesticides and insecticides can cause environmental pollution and expose both cotton growers and consumers to toxic chemicals.

Reusable rounds are a great sustainable alternative. Brands such as LastObject, Waste Less Shop, and EcoRoots offer quality options at affordable prices. Last Object’s rounds, for example, are compostable and made from eco-friendly materials that are sustainably sourced. Even the packaging is recyclable! They work exactly like your regular single-use cotton pads, but are machine washable (super easy) and can be used many times, reducing waste – one pack is good for 1,750 uses or more!

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @LASTOBJECT

Next up is moisturizing. If you’re the kind of person who feels naked going without foundation, a tinted moisturizer with added sun protection is a great option that cuts down on products in your routine. Look for a product that’s natural, has multiple benefits and broad-spectrum coverage to protect your skin. We love Australian brand Sukin’s Sheer Touch Face Sunscreen; it’s a 100% naturally derived zinc sunscreen that comes in two sheer shades, combining UVA & UVB broad spectrum protection, hydration and light coverage. It’s also cruelty free and free from harmful chemical absorber Oxybenzone which can be damaging to reefs and aquatic life.

Sukin’s sunscreen also features recyclable packaging. When shopping for new products, we recommend considering brands with packaging that can be reused or recycled wherever possible – you can even find shops that offer refilling options for certain products, which cuts down on packaging waste.

Adding a Touch of Colour

We’re all staying home a lot more than we’d like to these days, and it can get a bit gloomy. Cheer up your next Zoom call by adding a hint of color to your face. A cheek and lip tint is your best friend! Fat and the Moon’s Lip Paint is organic and freshly made-to-order with minimal, super-natural ingredients. It can even be used as an eye shadow alternative, again cutting down on unnecessary extra products.

Wherever possible, we try to support cruelty-free brands and look through the ingredients listed to ensure they’re organic and ethically sourced. Buying in bulk has its advantages, but unless you’re going through a lot of product it’s generally less wasteful to buy in smaller containers. The key is to cut down on the number of unnecessary products overall – consider whether you actually need something before purchasing, and try to only replace a product when you’ve actually used it up (you’ll save money too!). Natural products are a great option, but tend to expire faster than non-organic products which often have toxins to help extend their life, so there’s no point buying products you won’t use.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ALEXACHUNG

Many cosmetic brands still use palm oil for its moisturizing properties, which is often listed as ‘Elaeis Guineensis’ oil on product packaging. Unfortunately, the palm oil industry is often linked to issues of deforestation. Large areas of tropical forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations, which has a devastating impact on many plant and animal species. The burning of tropical forests is common, which pollutes the air and contributes to climate change. Sadly, not all beauty brands are committed to sourcing palm oil sustainably, but you can check if a company is compliant with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) before deciding to purchase from them. The RSPO is a non-profit organization that unites stakeholders from the 7 sectors of the palm oil industry and social non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop and implement global standards for sustainable palm oil.

Filling in the Gap

Even running out for a quick errand requires wearing a mask, and we’ve found that having our lips covered up has shifted our focus to eye makeup instead. Full lashes and well-shaped brows are now the highlight of our makeup routine.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ALEXACHUNG

If defining your eyes is essential to your makeup routine, environmentally-friendly false lashes might be an option for you. Although the replacement period is relatively short compared with mascara, these lashes are made from recycled fibers which mean less waste going into landfill. One unique brand offering eco-friendly false lashes is Eyecha. Their vegan lashes are made from 35% recycled PET material and come in completely recyclable packaging; plus they’re reusable up to 15 times. Though they’re not stocked in Australian stores yet, their lashes can be purchased via their website.

Looking to cut down on your beauty stash, but an unruly brow is a big no-no? You don’t have to skip this step. A great waste-reducing makeup hack is to simply repurpose a product you already have on hand. Create a full and fluffy or defined brow using an eyeshadow you already own, or a clear mascara can double up as a brow gel. You can even repurpose hair pomade or spray on a spoolie (plastic-free, please!) to tame your brows and get them in shape.

Remember that caring for the environment is everyone’s responsibility. We love our beauty products, but it’s disheartening to know that many of the products we use daily contribute to the global waste crisis. That’s why we think sustainable packaging should be a big consideration when choosing your products. Avoid plastic at all costs! Compostable material is great as it breaks down over time. Recycled and recyclable materials are also good choices, and are being used more frequently by big-name brands. According to Zero Waste Week, over 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the cosmetics industry world-wide, so we’re happy to see more cosmetic brands stepping up and offering sustainable options – but it’s up to us to make the most of them.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @JUSTINHOFMAN

Takeaway: Less is More!

Maintaining a self-care routine is keeping us sane while we’re stuck at home. The great news is there are so many creative ways to be more sustainable while pampering yourself! Simplifying your makeup routine is the first step towards reducing the negative impact of beauty products on the environment. The less products you buy, the less you contribute to unnecessary waste. The next step is replacing products you already use with more eco-friendly alternatives, so you can feel better about the products you do spend your money on. Making better choices and a conscious decision to be more sustainable is a big step, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Every change you make adds up to a makeup routine that’s better for our planet.

Main image: Instagram @ALEXACHUNG

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