Products For A Greener Beauty Routine

The beauty and skin care industry is a multi-billion-dollar business, with scores of new products launched every year. Facial cleansers alone accounted for $1.65 billion in sales in 2021, according to Statista. With all those products often comes a whole lot of plastic. According to 2018 data from Zero Waste Week, approximately 142 billion pieces of cosmetics and skin care packaging are produced each year (via British Vogue).

Given that roughly 91% of plastic is never actually recycled, looking for ways to reduce your purchasing and consumption of it makes a ton of eco-wise sense. And according to Brightly, switching to a greener beauty routine isn't just great for the planet, it's good for your health, too. The publication spoke with Lorraine Dallmeier, an environmentalist and CEO of Formula Botanica, to get her take on what green beauty is all about. "It's more about bringing the sustainability and the environmental aspects into it," she said. "Being a chartered environmentalist, that's incredibly important to me. That's where I think we take natural one step further and we determine what is actually the right thing for the planet and for society."

If you are looking to switch to a greener beauty routine, the concept can be a bit intimidating. However, Allure shared that the process of switching doesn't need to be tricky or expensive. You can find some quality environmentally friendly products at any price point. From Target to Sephora, green beauty products are everywhere!

Start by ditching the makeup wipes

If you are looking to jumpstart your greener beauty routine, start by eliminating wasteful makeup-removing wipes. According to Real Simple, who spoke with Diana Felton, MD, makeup removing wipes are not sustainable. "The biggest environmental problem with makeup remover wipes is the sheer volume," Felton shared. "One group estimates that 20 million pounds of single-use wipes (including baby wipes and disinfecting wipes) are disposed of every day in the U.S. Many wipes are disposed of in landfills, and despite claims to the contrary, most are not biodegradable and do not rapidly break down, creating too much trash to fit in our landfills."

If that number is shocking to you, have no fear! There are many makeup-removing products on the market that are more sustainable. These products are reusable, so they won't end up in landfills. Self recommended trying out brands like Makeup Eraser or Face Halo, who make reusable makeup removing cloths. The best part is you just have to add water, wipe off your makeup, and you are good to go! The makeup is off your face, and there's one less makeup removing wipe headed to the landfill!

The Handmade Soap's Anam Wash and Lotion Refills

Another way to reduce plastic consumption in your beauty routine is to opt for non-plastic alternatives when it's time to replace a plastic-based item you already have. Luckily, that's becoming easier and easier as the industry embraces sustainability. Consumers are also eager to green up their routines. A study by First Insight, a business analysis firm, found that large percentages of shoppers — and particularly gen Z consumers and millennials — "prefer to buy from sustainable brands" and are willing to pay more for these types of products.

From biodegradable glitter to bamboo makeup brushes, eco-alternatives are popping up everywhere. You can even up your already eco-friendly skin care game by looking for pouches that aren't made with any plastic at all. The Handmade Soap Company's Anam Wash Refill and Lotion Refill, scented with geranium, vetiver, and coriander seed, comes in packaging that the brand notes is 100% compostable. All you have to do after refilling your soap dispenser is rinse out the refill pouch and then toss it into the compost bin.

Beauty Pie's Superactive Capsules

"Monodosing" may just be the answer to sustainable skin care. These generally single-sized portions of skin care items like serums and moisturizers are designed to ensure you get just what you need in packaging that is easily recyclable or biodegradable (via Elle). Newby Hands, Net-A-Porter's global beauty director, told Elle that the site has seen the trend really take off: "For ampoules alone, we have experienced double digit growth on the year, and we have been multiplying our assortment ever since."

Beauty Pie's Superactive Capsules each contain a monodose of the brand's Vitamin C and Vitamin E serum for use "as-and-when-needed." You just "twist, squeeze, and tap" to brighten, firm, and even out skin tone, according to the brand.

Per Marie Claire, monodosing proponents tout that the ingredients in the small pods or ampoules are more potent because they're not exposed to oxygen until you're ready to use them and twist them open.

Glossier's Cloud Paint

The old adage "less is more" really does mean more when it comes to sustainability and environmental impact. Products that can be used for more than one function give you more bang for your buck while also reducing the number of items that you buy overall. And this is good news for both your pocketbook and Mother Earth.

In 2022, Vogue Business reported how easy it is to buy lots and lots of beauty and skin care products while you end up only using a handful regularly. In the UK, for instance, the outlet noted that 77% of women there buy up to 100 new products a year but only use 10 or fewer routinely.

Multipurpose products, like Glossier's Cloud Paint, can be used on your cheeks, lips, or eyes, according to Insider. The Leaping Bunny-certified brand says that the product is "just sheer enough" to allow for easy blending and/or layering for a subtle, or not so subtle, pop of color.

Seek out innovative recycling programs for your empty products

With annual amounts of cosmetics packaging reaching into the billions, it's eco-smart to look for viable recycling options when you finish using a product. Innovative programs like TerraCycle and Nordstrom's BeautyCycle aim to provide reasonable ways to reduce the beauty and skin care packaging that gets sent to landfills.

Founded in 2001 by Tom Szaky to tackle leftover cafeteria waste, TerraCycle offers a wide variety of free, brand-sponsored recycling programs for items ranging from beauty products to food storage containers. All you need to do is find the right program for your waste, save up your used packaging, and then mail it to TerraCycle with a free, printable shipping label. The company also offers special boxes at different prices to collect used items at home or in the office.

Nordstrom's BeautyCycle program has the ambitious goal of recycling "100 tons of beauty packaging by 2025," according to the department store's website. Bins for the items are available in the beauty areas of Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, and Nordstrom Local stores. The containers you bring in must be empty.

Making your own face masks is easy and relaxing

Are you dreaming of skipping the packaging altogether? Miranda Kerr's got you covered. The supermodel and founder of KORA Organics told Beauticate that when she wants to refresh her skin, all she has to do is head to her kitchen.

"I like to make a cold cucumber mask to use on my face," Kerr said. The single-ingredient face mask is great for soothing tired skin. But make sure to keep those cukes in the fridge, according to Kerr. "You have to make sure the cucumbers are very cold and then grate them to make the mask. I also use cold cucumbers on my eyes if I wake up and my eyes are puffy. It really works for me." Making your own products like face masks is an easy, fun, and cost-effective way to keep your beauty and skin care routine natural and eco-friendly.

DIY face scrubs will exfoliate and brighten your skin without hurting the environment

Ingredients like oatmeal, brown sugar, avocado, and green tea are both nutritional and beauty powerhouses and make great add-ins to masks and scrubs (via Self). Oatmeal, for instance, has anti-inflammatory properties, holds in moisture, and helps with dryness, while green tea contains a lot of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.

Celeb facialist Joanna Vargas, whose clients have included Julianne Moore, Eva Mendes, and Naomi Watts, recommends face scrubs for their quick results. "You'll see your skin is instantly softer and brighter after using them," Vargas told Good Housekeeping in 2022.

If you have oily skin, you'll want to try the quick and easy recipe shared by Good Housekeeping to reduce excess oil: a whole kiwi (peeled and mashed), 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, and a few drops of olive oil. Mix it all together, and then massage the scrub onto your face in circular motions for a few minutes. Rinse it off with warm water, and enjoy the effects of the amino acid- and vitamin C-rich kiwi.

A homemade lip scrub will perfect your pout and boost your eco cred

Keeping the buy-less-packaging vibe going, why not also make a lip scrub along with your face scrub and face mask? Actor, author, and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra shared with Vogue that she's a big fan of making her own scrubs at home and using a variety of natural ingredients to level up her beauty routine.

One of Chopra's favorites is a lip scrub made with just three ingredients. She told the magazine that her skin care recipes have been inspired by her mother and grandmother, as well as other women in India. To make Chopra's lip scrub, all you need to mix together is sea salt, 100% pure vegetable glycerin, and rose water. According to Harper's Bazaar, rose water is packed with antioxidants to combat skin damage while also being anti-inflammatory and hydrating. Chopra's a big fan of lip scrubs because, as she told Vogue, "As you can tell, my lips are one of my more prominent features."

A DIY body scrub will exfoliate your skin and reduce the amount of packaging you buy

Once you start mixing and matching delicious ingredients like brown sugar, avocado, and olive oil, you'll probably find yourself making (at least) one more scrub. And you'll probably want to try Jessica Alba's super-easy and smells-so-good body scrub recipe.

The actor and founder of Honest Beauty told Allure that a sugar-based body scrub is her go-to. To make it, Alba uses a mixture of raw cane sugar, vanilla, and either organic coconut oil or olive oil. The scrub will leave your skin glowing and smooth. HelloGiggles reported that sugar scrubs are a gentler alternative to using chemical exfoliants or salt-based scrubs. The exfoliation of the sugar scrub and sloughing away of dead skin cells will even boost the absorption of other body products you use.

Skip the plastic with a shine-boosting homemade hair mask

A hair mask is easy to make with ingredients you likely already have at home. And making it yourself means you'll have less packaging on hand that's either not recyclable or tough to recycle. Kendall Jenner's a fan of using banana, coconut oil, and avocado to nourish her hair, as reported by The Zoe Report.

The trick to getting strands like the supermodel's? Leave the mask on your hair for about 30 minutes before rinsing it out. According to Healthline, banana hair masks are great for smoothing hair because of the fruit's high silica content, which helps the body produce collagen for healthy hair. Bananas also help with reducing dandruff and moisturizing your locks.

"The same substances that give bananas their soft, chewy consistency can soften and condition your hair," Healthline explained. Although the site acknowledged that more research is needed, bananas seem well worth including in your DIY hair masks.