Eco-Friendly Beauty Product Alternatives
Beauty is pain. How many times have you heard that expression before? It’s true for a lot of people! Waxing, tweezing, exfoliating, crimping, lifting – it all brings pain, whether mild or a bit more intense. While beauty is pain for humans, it’s even more pain for our planet. The beauty industry is rampant with harmful plastic, toxic compounds, and single-use items that end up stockpiled in landfills and suffocating our environment.
How serious is this problem? Zero Waste Europe reports that the global cosmetics industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging every year. And most of that is non-recyclable plastic! The plastic in your daily beauty routine – the containers for your conditioner, mascara, lotion, face mask, and more – can take over 500 years to decompose. To put that in perspective, one piece of plastic you throw away today will be on this planet longer than your great-great-great-great-grandchildren and their great-great-great-great-grandchildren!
Now think of the 120 billion units of packaging and plastic hanging around that long – and piling up even further. Our oceans are waste-ridden already, litter is leaking into our forests, and animals are dying because of it. And if we don’t change our course, it’s only going to get worse – much, much worse.
There is good news amidst the doom and gloom – for the Earth and your descendants: many beauty companies are now aware of the plastic waste crisis, and they are taking steps to make cleaner, eco-friendly choices in their production. But it shouldn’t stop there! While that’s a big win for Mother Earth, it takes all of us to make lasting change. You can disrupt the damaging status quo by merely swapping out your usual beauty products for all-natural, environmentally-friendly substitutes. Not only are they better for the planet’s future, but they’re also better for your health!
So, where to start with saving the planet? Here are some eco-friendly beauty products to incorporate into your daily routine.
First Things First
Before we dive into the details, there are a few changes you can make in your bathroom to set yourself up for even more sustainable success.
Replace the Waste Bin with a Recycling Bin
Plenty of packaging for cosmetic products is recyclable, especially now that beauty companies are more environmentally conscious. Swap out the waste bin in your bathroom for a recycling bin, and check your empty containers to make sure they’re recyclable before tossing them in. If you’re not sure how to recycle some containers, check out Terracycle, a recycling program that works in partnership with several major name brands. Terracycle offers free recycling for cosmetic product packaging and containers, not just for individuals but for businesses too! All you need to do is sign up for a Free Recycling Program that meets your needs, request a shipping label for your recyclables, and send it in! Oh, and some recycling programs offer rewards points so you can earn money for your favorite nonprofit charity or school!
Switch to Sustainably-Sourced Ingredients
We’re talking a lot about packaging, but the ingredients inside are just as crucial. Companies need to consider the long-term impact of farming their cosmetic ingredients and how those ingredients are sourced in the first place. Take a peek at your products' packaging and look for the Rainforest Alliance or Fair Trade logos. These logos indicate that the company meets rigorous international standards for sustainability practices and fair compensation for farmers and workers.
Eco-Friendly Shower Products
Now that you’re armed with new knowledge and a recycling bin let’s start swapping some shower products!
1) Shampoo Bars
I get it; shampoo is a big part of hair care. But most shampoo bottles aren’t made from recyclable plastic, so they sit in landfills for centuries. Luckily, there are several options to make your hair care routine even cleaner.
Of course, you could find a shampoo that’s packaged in a recyclable container rather than a single-use bottle, made by an environmentally-conscious company. Or, you could challenge the traditional shampoo model and try a shampoo bar!
Shampoo bars are just like bars of soap for your body, only with scalp-friendly ingredients. Instead of plastic bottle packaging, these bars typically come wrapped in recyclable or biodegradable paper. They also tend to be better for your hair and scalp health since they are often made by companies that focus on all-natural, eco-friendly, or non-toxic ingredients. Shampoo bars usually don’t contain sulfates like regular shampoo, which helps your hair retain natural moisture. They’re better for the planet and your scalp health!
2) All-Natural Soap
Body wash and other liquid soaps are plastic bottle culprits just as much as shampoo. Rather than producing more waste more often with regular-sized bottles of synthetic cleansers, try swapping it out for a large bottle of all-natural soap like Doc Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. You can buy bottles of Doc Bronner’s soap in sizes ranging from 2-ounce bottles to 1-gallon jugs – just funnel it into a smaller eco-friendly dispenser or bottle to put in your shower!
There are plenty of all-natural soap options out there with similar benefits as Doc Bronner’s. Just be sure to buy it in bulk to reduce your plastic consumption, and check for those Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certification logos.
3) Single-Blade Razors
Plastic, disposable razors are accessible, cheap, and a big problem for our planet. In the early 90s, the EPA estimate that the U.S. produced over 2 billion disposable razor blades – and tossed them all into landfills. That was nearly 30 years ago, so can you imagine how many disposable razorblades we produce (and throw out) now? Yuck.
We can’t afford to keep this trend, for ourselves or the Earth. Instead of grabbing another package at the grocery store, consider getting a single-blade safety razor that will last for months. It will reduce your plastic waste and help you save money in the long run!
4) Shaving Soap
On a similar note, shaving cream is a huge environmental hazard. You would think you could recycle the aluminum or steel cans, but some municipalities don’t accept them because pressurized aerosol cans can be dangerous – especially for the sanitation workers collecting them! Not to mention their contribution to your carbon footprint with all of the gasses they release.
What to use instead? Replace your cans of shaving cream with shaving soap. It usually comes packaged in recyclable paper, much like the shampoo bars we mentioned earlier. But don’t worry; shaving soap lathers well to give you a similar experience to traditional shaving cream! It will last way longer than the canned versions, and it works exceptionally well with single-blade razors. If you switch to one, you may as well make the jump to both!
Beauty routines go well beyond the shower. Here are some eco-friendly changes to make to your makeup routine.
1) Bamboo Makeup Brushes
While makeup brushes aren’t typically single-use items, they are usually made with plastic, synthetic fibers, or worse, animal fur. You can do better!
EcoTools makeup brushes are much more environmentally friendly than traditional brushes. Their handles are made from bamboo instead of plastic, and the bristles are made from recycled plastic rather than making more. The packaging of every EcoTools product is recyclable and biodegradable, so it’s safe for your recycling bin or your compost pile. Bonus: the paper packaging is actually seed paper – plant it in your garden and water it, and you’ll have beautiful wildflowers growing in a few weeks!
2) Refillable Eyeshadow
Plastic packaging, much like our beloved eyeshadow palettes, created 14.32 million tons of plastic waste in 2014, according to the EPA. And of those 14.32 million tons, how much was recycled? A mere 2.12 million pounds. Recycling is a start, but we need to take more significant strides. In addition to recycling our plastic, we need to cut our consumption.
Rather than buying a large eyeshadow palette and only using three or four colors, slim down your collection by purchasing only the colors you’ll use consistently. Once you have your ideal colors picked out, look into refillable eyeshadow compacts from brands like Alima Pure. Eyeshadow refills use way less plastic and are cheaper than restocking traditional eyeshadow palettes – so you can buy more eco-friendly refills!
3) Makeup Towels
At the end of a long day, what feels better than scrubbing the makeup off of your face and leaving your face feeling soft, smooth, and au naturel? Unfortunately, the same makeup wipes that make that process easy breezy for you are piling up in landfills. And unless they’re biodegradable, those makeup wipes will release synthetic chemicals into the environment and threaten wildlife for years to come.
Relax, you don’t need to clutch your makeup wipes close and guard them with your life! Just swap them out for makeup towels instead. These towels from Ulta Beauty are super affordable and super easy to use – just add water, and you’re ready to go! No cleanser, no hassle, and not a bit of makeup left on your face when you’re done.
More Eco-Friendly Health & Beauty Products
To complete your health and beauty routine, check out these eco-friendly alternatives for the rest of your usual toiletries:
1) Bamboo Toothbrushes
Remember how plastic takes over 500 years to decompose? Americans throw away over one billion toothbrushes every year – most of which are plastic. They end up in the ocean, a landfill, or the bellies of wild animals, and they won’t break down for a very long time.
To flip the script, switch to bamboo toothbrushes. Bamboo is biodegradable and sustainable, so it’s much more gentle on the Earth’s environment. Even if they end up in the wrong place, they will break down within six months or so, instead of the centuries that plastic takes to disintegrate! And most packaging for bamboo toothbrushes is biodegradable as well, reducing your carbon footprint even more.
2) Lotion Bars
Hearken back to our conversation about shampoo bottles and bottles of body wash. What else comes in plastic pump bottles similar to those? Body lotion. And even if it comes in a recyclable bottle, the pump itself is not recyclable anyway.
Lotion bars and body butter bars are a fantastic alternative to harmful plastic pumps and bottles. They’re easy to use, store, and even transport! They’re solid at room temperature, but the heat of your hands softens them so you can use them just as you would your regular lotion. Make sure you find a product that comes in biodegradable packaging, too!
3) Bamboo & Reusable Cotton Swabs
Another sneaky culprit in our bathroom is cotton swabs. While cotton is a natural ingredient that decomposes quickly, the stems of cotton swabs are made from plastic – and we know the hazards of plastic quite well now!
Instead of perpetuating the plastic crisis, opt for cotton swabs made with bamboo stems. They will break down much more quickly than their plastic counterparts, no matter where they find their final resting place. However, these are still single-use items, and there is always room for improvement.
If you want to kick up your ecologically-friendly efforts a notch, take a look at LastSwab. It’s a reusable “cotton” swab made from durable TPE instead of plastic. It’s easy to use and easy to clean, and it can replace up to 1,000 single-use cotton swabs in your daily routine! And it’s not just for hygienic purposes, either. LastSwab Beauty features soft, pointed tips to help you get the perfect smudge or blend in your makeup!
Traditional deodorants come with a long list of hazards: harmful aluminum, damaging parabens, and synthetic fragrances and fillers, to name a few. Don’t settle for shoving this stuff into your skin! Give your body – and the environment – the much better alternative of all-natural crystal deodorant.
When you choose nakd. Thai Crystal Deodorant, you’re using a cruelty-free vegan product that is 100% natural and better for your body. It isn’t an antiperspirant that clogs your sweat glands – it’s a deodorizing product made of the highest quality natural mineral salts from Thailand. Thai people have used the same ingredient to fight body odor for hundreds of years! And rather than tossing out an empty container every couple of months, nakd. deodorant can last up to a whole year!
So, rather than dumping more plastic in the trash and making the mountain of waste in your local landfill even bigger, make a choice to switch to eco-friendly alternatives for your everyday beauty products. With vast resources and products to meet your health and beauty needs, Vasarii is here to support you in your journey! Check out The nakd. Lifestyle Blog for more inspiration, and be sure to take a look at nakd. deodorant to start improving your environmental impact.