I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for little ways I can be more eco-conscious in my day-to-day life. You don’t have to go full-on hippy in order to make a difference, but there are a ton of small things you can do on a regular basis that really do add up in the long run! If everyone on Earth followed eco-friendly practices, the world would be a much cleaner place.
Today, we’ll look at the different makeup and beauty swaps you can try that will decrease your carbon footprint!
Get refills whenever possible
Think about how many bottles and containers get thrown out, or recycled (PLEASE tell me you recycle!), every trash day. It’s probably a lot. Now think about how many of those containers are for beauty products. Whether it’s shampoo and conditioner bottles, body wash, or moisturizer – that stuff adds up.
The thing is: the bottle itself is perfectly fine, so why not just refill it? More and more stores now offer discounts, if you bring your own container and purchase a product refill. Saving money and helping the planet? Count me in!
Create your own makeup palettes
Especially if you’re a professional MUA, you probably go through a ton of products in your makeup artist kit. Whether it’s corrector/concealer, eyeshadow, lip gloss, etc., those palettes often end up in landfills when you’re done them.
But when you create your own makeup palette, you normally keep the actual palette and simply replace individual makeup pods in it. Those pods are normally metallic, and can be recycled. Even just by making this simple change, you’re now well on your way to becoming a zero-waste makeup artist!
Cut down on plastic products & packaging
This is a big one! Plastic is everywhere, and it’s destroying the planet. Now, we know it’s hard to completely cut plastic out of your life. But there are ways you can drastically cut down on your plastic usage:
- Buy makeup products with minimal packaging. If you have the option of buying a product packaged in a plastic bag, or a similar product packaged in a box, go with the box. Opt for products in metal or glass bottles, and avoid plastic bottles whenever you can.
- Look for plastic-free products. Brushes with wood wands (or even better, bamboo) are way more eco-friendly than brushes with plastic wands. Also, metallic and/or cardboard palettes are more eco-friendly than plastic ones.
- Watch out for microbeads! Microscopic plastic beads are found in many types of scrubs, body washes, toothpastes, bubble baths, and more. Unfortunately, they’re also wreaking havoc on marine life and ecosystems across the globe! Today, microplastics are even found in human food products, too. Gross! If you can, try to avoid them entirely.
Avoid single-use products
No one can argue against the convenience of single-use beauty products. But saving a few seconds of your time comes at the expense of filling up landfills for years. When you think of it that way, it’s pretty terrible for the environment in the long run. Instead, for your own makeup artist kit, try going with multi-use items, such as reusable makeup wipes and silicone swabs. As a bonus, these will save you tons of money in the long run, too.
That having been said, there’s a hygienic reason why makeup artists need to use some disposable tools on clients. Mascara wands, for example, are always one-use items. Otherwise, you’ll contaminate your product, and can potentially give your next client a serious infection!
Lucky for you, there are a number of eco-friendly beauty companies out there that specialize in biodegradable beauty products, from wipes, to swabs, to spoolies. These products are usually made with sustainable materials, like organic cotton and bamboo.
Eco-friendly + sanitary = win-win!
More and more cosmetic companies now have recycling programs that allow you to return used packaging to the store or manufacturer. For doing so, you can usually get a refund, store credit, or even free swag! The old packaging is then recycled or sanitized, and reused by the company. This makes it cost-effective for them as well. That’s a triple win!
Moreover, if you recycle at home (again, please do), you need to know how to do it properly! Paper should be separated from plastics. This includes paper labels on plastic or glass packaging. Containers should be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed before being put into the recycle bin. That means you should take the time to scrape out the last few drops of your product, and then rinse all containers under hot water until it’s squeaky clean.
A dirty container WON’T be recycled properly. It’s nauseating how many perfectly recyclable products end up in landfills because people didn’t bother to rinse them out first. By the way: the “clean your containers” rule applies to any container you recycle, from peanut butter tubs to laundry detergent bottles.
Use biodegradable sunscreen
When I took a trip to Mexico last year, tour guides kept asking to see our sunscreen before allowing us to scuba dive around coral reefs or swim in cenotes (underground lakes and rivers). I later discovered that they were making sure everyone’s sunscreen was a safe, biodegradable formula that wouldn’t harm corals. They didn’t want our sunscreen to contaminate the fresh water that many residents depend on.
Unfortunately, many sunscreens contain dangerous chemicals that harm the environment. Some can even be potentially harmful to humans as well. This is particularly important with spray-on sunscreens that you can end up inhaling!
So always make sure to check your sunscreen, and try to avoid any of the following ingredients:
- Titanium dioxide
- Zinc oxide
- PABA / trolamine salicylate PABA
Go with “solid” products
Bar soap is way more environmentally friendly than liquid soap or body wash. You use less product, and it uses much less (and often recyclable/biodegradable) packaging. Today, you can also find shampoo and conditioner bars, moisturizer bars, body lotion bars, etc.
Since they are in a solid form, these products don’t need to be packaged in plastic containers. Most are instead packaged in reusable/recyclable metal tins, or biodegradable paper sleeves. What’s more, you’ll find that they last a LOT longer than their liquid counterparts!
Commit to Cruelty-Free
Let’s get real for a second: it’s 2020 – there’s literally no reason why animal testing should still be a thing in the cosmetics industry. But big corporations don’t tend to make changes until consumers force them to. So while you don’t need to join Greenpeace or go stand in a picket line, you definitely should educate yourself on which products are cruelty-free.
Then boycott the ones that aren’t! Encourage your friends and family to do the same. Sure, it can suck to have to change your favorite brand, but helping to put an end to barbaric practices is well worth that temporary hassle.
If you want to make the switch to eco-friendly beauty products and need some help, here’s a great list of 140+ cruelty-free makeup brands!
As a parting reminder, we can’t stress enough that every little bit helps. If you don’t want to give up your favorite body wash, you don’t have to! But maybe you can switch to reusable makeup removal wipes.
Being environmentally conscious is not an all-or-nothing game. You can absolutely take baby steps and start with just one thing on this list. Then, with time, you can do two. You’ll quickly be surprised at how easy it is to make changes that benefit both the planet and your wallet!