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12 Ways To Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable

12 Ways To Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable

Most of us can agree on how satisfying it feels to receive a package we ordered in the mail containing highly-anticipated beauty products. It’s always enjoyable to remove the layers of bubble wrap and cellophane to find an adorably designed makeup palette or a lovely bottle of perfume. There’s no denying that a large part of personal beauty products’ appeal is the packaging’s aesthetic appearance. However, this often comes at the expense of the environment.

As enjoyable and beautiful as many beauty products are to use and admire, there is a dark side to the cosmetics industry. Think about it in these terms- at least 120 billion units of packaging for the cosmetics industry are produced every year. With only 8 billion people on the planet, that’s 15 units per person per year. And that’s just for one year. Imagine how much of that ends up in the ocean.

As new research and statistics emerge about the cosmetic industry’s effects on the environment, many people have taken an interest in engaging in a lifestyle that reduces their carbon footprint and produces as little waste as possible. There are many obvious and not-so-obvious ways you can make small changes in your beauty routine to do your part to help the planet. It can be as easy as simply reading a label before purchasing a product or memorizing key ingredients you want to avoid. You don’t need to sacrifice beauty or comfort to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Read on for a few tips you can implement for a more eco-friendly beauty routine.

1. Look for Packaging That Is Recyclable or Biodegradable

Be conscious of packaging. Did you know that most mascara wands and pumps on soap and shampoo bottles are not recyclable? Read the back of your beauty product labels before buying them to determine if the products are recyclable or not. Keep in mind, the universal recycling symbol we’re all familiar with doesn’t necessarily mean a product is recyclable. It could just mean it was made with recycled content.


Different areas have their own rules for recycling, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with practices in your city or county regarding plastic and glass products. Although they are recyclable, not every community makes that option readily available.

Plastic packaging isn’t biodegradable. It takes an estimated 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down in a landfill. Statistics show people tend to recycle their kitchen products more than they do their bathroom products.

2. Use Refillable Beauty Products

More companies than ever sell products that you can refill in the store or buy refills for online. Many brands now give you the option to refill makeup palettes, perfume bottles, deodorants, sunscreens, lipsticks, and more! This is a step above recycling because it generates less waste, and it’s becoming more and more mainstream every year.

3. Pay Attention to Ingredients

Just because a product says “natural” does not mean it is free of chemicals or organic. It can still include parabens, phthalates, and more. If a product is toxic to the human body, it’s likely toxic to the environment as well. The fewer ingredients a product has, the chances are it’s better for you and the environment.

BHA and BHT are common ingredients in many moisturizers and lipsticks. They are not only damaging to the environment but can disrupt your hormonal balance as well, which can lead to a whole other gamut of health issues you don’t want to deal with. Steer clear of these.

You may have heard by now that aluminum, a common ingredient in deodorant, is linked to diseases like breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. Many deodorants on the market today are aluminum-free, so it should be simple to replace your current deodorant if it contains aluminum. Baking soda is also a great natural alternative.

Triclosan is an ingredient often found in shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and hand sanitizers. The FDA has banned some products with these ingredients as they are harmful to bacteria and algae in the oceans.

Propylene glycol, ethylene, and paraffin oil are petroleum derivatives. The reason why petroleum products are harmful is they can produce 1,4-dioxane, which is linked to cancer and is toxic to the human body. Instead, look for products with alternative ingredients like beeswax, cocoa butter, and vegetable oils.

4. Avoid Ingredients That Are Not Coral-Reef Friendly

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two common ingredients in sunscreen that have been shown to cause damage to coral reefs. The good news is, there are natural options available with ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which many brands use instead. There are even powder sunscreens that come with a brush applicator and refills that can be purchased online.

5. Buy From Companies With Zero Waste Policies

There are more Eco-friendly beauty brands than ever committed to ethically sourcing ingredients and creating sustainable packaging. It’s not just the packaging and ingredients you need to be aware of, but the environmental impact from every step of the process your beauty products go through before they reach you- from sourcing ingredients to packaging to transportation. These are all important.

6. Ditch the Makeup Wipes and Cotton Balls

Despite what the packaging says, many plumbing professionals say disposable wipes are not good for your pipes. Many of them cause sewer blockages and end up in the oceans. Most are not biodegradable and take an estimated 100 years to decompose in the landfills. If you do need to buy makeup wipes or baby wipes, look for the compostable ones- and don’t flush them. It’s a great idea to replace them with reusable face cloths or makeup removers made with eco-friendly ingredients.

Cotton balls and cotton pads are often used to remove makeup as well. However, they create a lot of waste in landfills. Cotton crops are heavily treated with pesticides, so that may be another reason to cut them out of your beauty routine altogether.

7. Look for Eco-Friendly Makeup Brushes

Switch out your makeup brushes for ones made with sustainable wood or bamboo handles and synthetic hair. Keep in mind, many makeup brushes with the label “cruelty-free” can still be made with animal hair.

8. Look for the Leaping Bunny Logo

This is the only internationally recognized standard label for not only beauty products but household products as well. Companies that carry this logo are required to implement a supply chain checking system for animal testing and other requirements to become leaping bunny compliant. All our products at Earth’s Shell are leaping bunny certified.

9. Avoid Beauty Products That Contain Microplastics

Microbeads found in many facial scrubs and body exfoliators are made up of tiny particles of plastics that do not dissolve and are not biodegradable. They end up in the oceans and inside of fish. Potentially fish that humans can eat. There are so many other great products out there you can use to exfoliate. Try out our Natural Exfoliating Loofah Sponge for an eco-friendly exfoliating option.

10. Stop Using Disposable Razors

Disposable razors are only used a few times and thrown away. On top of that, they are often made of different materials like rubber, plastic, and metal, making them difficult to recycle. Look for companies that sell razors with replacement blades or consider making your own sugar wax at home. For an easy sugar wax recipe, combine 2 cups of sugar, 21/4 cups water, and ¼ cup of lemon juice in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a lower temperature. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the wax reaches a deep golden color. It may take some trial-and-error to get it right, but it's worth it. You can also buy sugar wax online and heat it up at home. Sugar waxing does not require strips, which makes it even better for the environment.

11. Use Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

These are a great alternative to traditional shampoo and conditioner bottles because they cut down on chemical waste with their sustainable packaging. They are also very convenient for travel as they won’t leak and will pass the TSA check. On top of that, a bar will last you a lot longer than a bottle. We sell an excellent Shampoo Bar made of Multani Mitti clay, activated charcoal, and rosemary essential oil.

12. Stop Using Sheet Masks

Despite their popularity, most sheet masks are not compostable and end up in the landfill. For a product that is used one time and wrapped in aluminum and plastic materials, it generates a lot of waste. There are thousands of masks to choose from based on your skin type and preferences, so avoiding sheet masks should be easy.

Even taking small steps to create a more sustainable beauty routine adds up over time and makes a difference. The good news is, companies are listening. Brands are introducing more eco-friendly beauty products every year and setting long-term sustainability goals.

The beauty industry is not as regulated as people may believe it is, so educating yourself is very important. It’s important to consider our beauty products’ environmental impact-  from ingredients to packaging to transportation. Focus on products with as few ingredients as possible.

Now that you’ve learned a few simple ways to implement a more sustainable beauty routine, you can look good and feel great about doing your part to help the planet.


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