As with any significant lifestyle change, in the initial well-intentioned rush of enthusiasm and virtuousness there is often a temptation to dive straight into the deep end from day dot. In the context of making your beauty routine more sustainable, immediately throwing out your offending single use plastic-laden products, or ditching anything that wouldn’t look perfectly at home on a zero waste influencer’s flatlay, certainly seems appealing initially. But adding 27 products to cart in a bid to overhaul your existing routine overnight is, perhaps not surprisingly, not the most sustainable approach, when your cupboards are full to the brim with perfectly useable - if not perfectly sustainable - products.

It’s more boring, yes, but a sensible, slowly-slowly effort to use up your stash really is best here. And once you’ve consumed your products to their very last (and appropriately recycled the packaging), you can happily restock on more sustainable products, without a skerrick of guilt.

The refillable serum

In addition to their range of hard-working, high-performing skincare products, I’ve also been seriously impressed by Emma Lewisham’s sustainability bona fides: notably, their Beauty Circle programme. Customers in Australia and New Zealand can return eligible products by mail (they’ll pay for your postage) while your empties will be appropriately recycled by the clever team at TerraCycle. And if you’ve finished their excellent brightening serum, Skin Reset, you can top up with a bottle that’s been previously used, returned, sterilised, and re-entered into circulation: not only will it save you a few dollars, but there’s also an estimated saving of 72% CO2 emissions associated with its production. A number of their other products are also part of the refill programme, which you can learn about in its entirety here.

The recycled (and recyclable) body butter

If I had to identify just one product that I always have in my bathroom cupboard (with at least a few backups for peace of mind), I would cite – without a moment’s hesitation – Weleda’s Skin Food. It’s such a comforting moisturiser for dry, sensitised skin whose approachable price point means you can apply with relative abandon, guilt-free. And in good news for Skin Food obsessives like me, the Body Butter version is just as nourishing and lush as the original, and a sustainable pick too. The jar is made of 85% recycled glass, which you can then recycle in turn – either through their own recycling programme or at your local TerraCycle dropoff.

The shampoo bar

I’ve always been a bit wary of shampoo bars as while they’re great in theory, in my experience the formulations I’ve tried were somewhat lacking in sophistication and just don’t perform as well as their liquid equivalents. Italian salon brand Davines have put paid to that with their range, cleverly releasing versions of their Momo, Dede, Volu, and Love shampoos in bar form. The brand also estimate you’ll get 30 to 40 shampoos out of each bar (which is more than an equivalent 250mL bottle), so you can get professional quality product at a more accessible price point.

The carbon negative cleansing balm

Italian skincare line Comfort Zone is part of the eco-minded Davines group, and their entire range certainly satisfies a lot of sustainability criteria: the products come without unnecessary outer boxes and the range is more than 99% plastic-free. Their Sacred Nature line, though, is impressively carbon negative: it’s produced on a renewably powered and carbon dioxide negative site, and any carbon dioxide associated with its creation is compensated through reforestation via the EthioTrees programme. I particularly rate the Cleansing Balm, a fragrance-free option that offers a luxurious texture and cleanses like a dream.

The home compostable little tube of colour

You can now easily recycle your finished beauty products in Australia, thanks to the rollout of the TerraCycle programme to thousands of stores across the country. But producing a product with packaging that can be composted at home makes it, in my eyes, hard to beat in the sustainability stakes – which is what Biode has achieved across almost 100% of its range. I love their Tinted Lip Balm in Waratah, that provides a nourishing, rosy-hued sheen to lips and looks pretty as a blush too. Once you’ve reached the end of your tube, follow their guide to home composting, and your garden can also reap the benefits.

The sustainable period option

The environmental impact of a lifetime’s use of disposable period products is staggering, and thankfully now that zero waste alternatives have become almost indisputably mainstream, you can make the switch without having to look very far or wide at all; although if you are nervous about using a reusable product, period underwear is probably the easiest place to start. Modibodi’s underwear range runs the full gamut of life stages, offering nappies as well as pregnancy and post-partum options, to list just a few, but they boast the most expansive range of styles, colours, and patterns of period underwear I’m aware of. I’m confident you can find a pair to suit even the most specific of preferences.

The reusable face mask

I’m certainly not virtuous enough to swear off single use sheet masks just yet, but will happily commit in writing to at least using them less regularly. To help curb my usage, I’ve been opting instead for The Base Collective’s clever reusable face mask: crafted from silicone, it provides the benefits of a disposable sheet mask (a concentrated dose of product, that, thanks to its format, will absorb into the skin and not evaporate) without the waste. Apply a generous quantity of your hydrating serum or mask of choice and relax while the mask works its magic, and then simply rinse the mask with warm water and soap once you’re done.

Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie, holding shot by of model Liz Benn by John Rawlings, 1953

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