9 Simple Beauty Swaps to Become More Sustainable

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Sustainable beauty products

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While large companies are under tremendous pressure to make viable efforts toward sustainability, it’s up to each of us to do our part, too.

Where do you begin? Start by assessing your beauty routine.

What materials are you using to clean your skin? How often are you purchasing new products? What are they packaged in? 

Understanding the importance of sustainability is the first step to making small changes that can significantly impact the planet.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to tailor your beauty routine to include sustainable skincare and makeup so you can look and feel good about what you’re putting on your skin.

1. Swap Disposable Makeup Wipes for Reusable Cotton Pads

applying gel on cotton pad
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

While disposable wipes make it easier to remove your makeup (especially when traveling!), they’re not biodegradable and contribute to landfill waste.

An astounding 7.6 billion pounds of wipes wind up in a landfill each year!  The average wipe takes around 100 years to decompose because most versions are made with plastic and cotton. 

As if that weren’t disturbing enough, the combination of harmful ingredients in plastic and the liquid solution used to wet the wipes can make its way into the earth’s soil and water, negatively affecting marine life, ecosystems, and our health. 

Ditch the wipes and get yourself some reusable cotton pads or cloths. These soft, multi-tasking miracle workers are suitable for all skin types — even sensitive.

Use them to remove makeup with the cleanser of your choice or to apply vegan skincare products like a toner or face cream. Once dirty, just clean them with soap and water or pop them in the washing machine.

They’ll last you for years (think of all that money you’ll save!), but to ensure they’re genuinely environmentally friendly, make sure they’re made of natural fabrics that are compostable and recyclable. 

2. Choose Products with Minimal Packaging 

The beauty industry produces more than 120 billion packaging units annually globally; sadly, most are not recyclable.

Shop for sustainable beauty brands that use minimal, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging. Look for statements like “made from recycled materials” or the universal recycling symbol (the chasing arrows triangle, aka the Mobius Loop.)

Remember that only certain parts are recyclable for some packaging, so check with the manufacturer. Some companies already have programs in place. 

3. Avoid Products Formulated with Palm Oil 

Avoid products formulated with palm oil because large areas of tropical forests and other valuable green spaces are cut down to make room for monoculture planting of palm oil plants

Not only has this destroyed the natural habitat for endangered species like elephants, tigers, and rhinos, but the burning of the forests raises greenhouse gas emissions and promotes polluted soil and water contamination. 

4. Choose Natural Ingredients 

Choose vegan makeup and skincare formulated with natural ingredients.

Common offenders such as plastics, mercury, lead, and synthetics like phthalates and parabens don’t break down in landfills for many years, so they can end up in our soil and waterways, which poses a risk to wildlife and humans.

Clean cosmetics are better for the environment and your skin!

5. Swap Single-Use Items for Reusable Ones 

Think about the single-use items you use in your beauty routine and replace them with reusable ones to reduce landfill waste. Some examples include:

  • A safety razor vs disposable razors
  • Sustainable, reusable swabs (1,000-plus uses) vs cotton swabs
  • A bamboo toothbrush vs a plastic one
  • Depuffing and circle-reducing silicone under-eye patches that can be rinsed and reused
  • Reusable silicone face mask (use with your favorite serum or moisturizer) vs sheet masks — the packaging is typically not recyclable. 

6. Buy Refillable or Bulk Products

You’ve probably noticed that many hotels are replacing those mini bottles of shampoo, shower gel, and lotion with larger, refillable bottles to reduce plastic waste. In large, bulk bottles, you can also find some face cleansers and moisturizers (face and body).

However, this is not the case for products like serums, eye creams, specialty treatments, and cosmetics. Still, many beauty companies are making strides by offering refill programs to eliminate plastic waste while saving you a bit of cash at the same time. 

sustainably beauty products in a bathroom
By Netrun78/Shutterstock.com

7. Choose Multi-Purpose Products

Use products that serve multiple purposes to reduce the number of items you need to buy, thus reducing waste. For example: 

  • Tinted eye, lip, and cheek balm
  • Toner, primer, setting spray
  • Foundation, moisturizer, and SPF
  • Face and body bronzer
  • Eye and lip gel cream
  • Finishing powder and highlighter 
  • Serum, tint, and SPF

8. Donate Unexpired Products

Instead of throwing away your unused (or gently used) unexpired products (they seemed like a good purchase then), donate them!

There are organizations for the homeless, poverty-stricken, terminally ill, and domestically who would be more than happy to take your unused skincare and cosmetics off your hands.

You’ll be doing something good for people in need and the environment

9. Support Sustainable Brands 

The easiest way to know you’re purchasing products that are good for you and the environment is to support sustainable skincare brands. These companies prioritize sourcing, manufacturing, ingredients, packaging, and recycling.

Hopefully, this movement will encourage even more companies to become sustainable. 

Sure, it’s the responsibility of companies to make changes towards sustainability — but it’s on all of us, too. Shop with ethics in mind and consider switching to vegan skincare and makeup.

You may not think about it daily, but in the grand scheme of things, every tube, jar, bottle, compact, and palette makes a difference!  

  • Greener Ideal Staff

    Greener Ideal helps you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips and commentary on the latest environment news. We want to protect the planet and reduce our collective carbon footprint.

  • Emma Rivers

    Emma is a seasoned product reviewer with a passion for all things eco-friendly and sustainable. With over a decade of experience in objectively evaluating products, she has become a trusted voice in the industry, especially among environmental audiences. Emma's dedication to environmental responsibility drives her to seek out products that align with eco-conscious values, making her an ideal advocate for brands that prioritize sustainability.

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