Eco beauty

Eco beauty

Lotte Brouwer on how to transform your beauty routine

From the single-use plastic packaging that’s filling landfills, to the cosmetic chemicals and microplastics disrupting marine life, our choice in beauty products has an impact.  

Thankfully, there are many beauty brands paving a better way. From big brands using recycled plastic and offering refills so packaging gets reused, to eco brands taking things one step further with ‘naked’ products that are completely packaging-free, it’s never been easier to make a positive change with your beauty routine. 

Here are some swaps to make your beauty routine more sustainable… 

Swap bottles for solid soap and shampoo bars

When you consider that 80 billion plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles get thrown out globally each year, it’s easy to see why we’re in need of a serious switch-up. Using a solid bar instead of a liquid gel will help reduce waste with reduced packaging (no plastic bottles), it reduces water consumption (instead using the water you’re already showering in), and finally these clever soap bars also save on emissions since they weigh considerably less than heavy bottles of shampoo and conditioner and take up far less space when being transported.  

Leading the way is Lush, the long-reigning champion of sustainable and cruelty-free beauty. You can buy its scrumptious smelling shampoo and conditioner bars ‘naked’ (packaging free). L’Occitane also does a great solid shampoo, as does Aveda, and Childs Farm does one for kids. And Garnier offers solid shampoo bars. 

It’s not just soap and shampoo that are available in solid form – you can now find face cleansing balms and moisturisers too. Sbtrct ‘s skincare products have all been formulated into solid bars including a retinoid balm and a moisturising option, packed full of nourishing seed oils and completely palm oil free. All of Sbtrct’s products are, of course, totally plastic-free, but they also contain less than 0.5% water, which is a total feat. 

Go for vegan brands

We’ve been trying out various ranges that are vegan. We love B’Kate for gorgeous brows. Founded by international brow artist, Marlies Gregorius, B’KATE offers professional quality, vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free brow cosmetics, including pencils, gels, oils and brushes. Particularly impressive is the gel which offers a lovely sheen and gives brows a groomed yet natural look. The oil is also wonderful for moisturising this often overlooked area. We also like the divine smelling ROOTS Professional haircare range, which is sustainably sourced and vegan. It is designed to restore, repair and rejuvenate the hair follicles, encouraging hair growth.

Ditch the face wipes

While face wipes might seem convenient in the moment, their cost to the environment is horrifying. In the UK alone, we use 11 billion wet wipes a year – the majority of which end up in the bin (and therefore, landfill) or are flushed down the loo (and make it into our oceans). Wipes account for 93% of sewer blocks [from Water UK], while a gruesome phenomenon called fatbergs (floating stacks of congealed waste including face wipes and sanitary items) have built up in our rivers. 

While there’s yet to be an easy, practical replacement for nappy wipes, there are plenty of alternatives for face wipes. 

Face Halo has produced high-tech fibre discs that require only water to loosen and lift away makeup (£15.39 for 3).  Bambaw at Boots offers great value (£13.50 for 16), and Etsy has plenty of reusable cotton pads in a variety of pretty prints. Garnier has also come forward with an alternative with their Micellar Reusable Eco Pads (£4.49 for 3) which can be paired with micellar water to ease away stubborn mascara and long-wearing makeup and can be washed and reused up to 1,000 times.  

Switch to a natural deodorant

We collectively throw away millions of deodorant cans a year, including the plastic parts, which end up in landfill. Swap your aerosol cans for the latest deodorant balms instead, which last longer, reduce unnecessary packaging waste, and are kinder to your skin too. 

Combat sweat and odour, naturally. Wild has created a fully sustainable deodorant which comes in two parts: a reusable aluminium case and a plethora of lush smelling deodorant refills (packaged in bamboo pulp, of course). 

Nuud does a popular deodorant in a tube, AKT has a range of highly rated deodorant balms, or try the natural deodorant balm from ffs – each tin provides two months’ supply, and the uplifting scent of peppermint and grapefruit will leave you feeling fresh and smelling great all day long. 

Get a recycling bin for your bathroom

It seems an obvious one, doesn’t it? So many of us have a recycling bin in our kitchens, but our bathrooms? Not so much. There’s not much point in making the switch to more recyclable beauty products if we then don’t stick them in the right bin. To make it easier, stick two bins in your bathroom, one for general waste and one for recycling. 

 First Aid Kit

These days you can even find eco-friendly alternatives to your plasters, for example the Patch Aloe Vera Bamboo Plasters (£6.99 for 25 from Holland & Barret) which are 100% home-compostable. 

Ditch single-use period products

Single-use plastic is a serious issue when it comes to period products. Menstrual pads are made up of a high percentage of plastic, and that’s before you’ve even considered throwaway plastic tampon applicators.  

Here to shake up the period industry is WUKA, creator of the leak-proof, reusable and machine-washable period pants. Replacing the need for single-use pads and tampons, period pants are designed to absorb and wash out. &Sisters also has an eco-friendly period offering with naked tampons, plastic-free pads and reusable period cups. Dame is also tackling the single-plastic issue with its re-usable tampon applicator, which literally does what it says on the tin, and makes for an easy swap for those already used to using tampons. 

 Close shave 

Instead of buying plastic disposable razors that aren’t recyclable, invest in a reusable handle with refillable blades. The benefits for us are longevity in our razors, and of course knowing that we’re doing our bit for the environment. 

Bulldog does a razor made from bamboo, while UpCircle, Morrama and Lane44 have created reusable metal razors to help tackle the plastic problem. Razor subscription boxes are also becoming a trend, with ffs offering a monthly or bi-monthly subscription for blade replacements to use on its zinc alloy metal razor, while Estrid replaces your blade cartridges every one to three months to go with its metal razor handle. Gilette and Wilkinson Sword are also creating razors that are built to last. 

Look for refills

So much packaging gets wasted every time you buy a new beauty product. Springs in pump mechanisms, mirrors in powder compacts, heavy jars for fancy moisturisers… When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy. That’s where refills come in, and many major beauty brands – including Rituals, L’Occitane and Aussie are offering refills for shampoo and body washes, while luxury brands like YSL, Dior, Chanel and Charlotte Tilbury are offering refills for makeup items. 

Check the packaging

Switch to products that come in recycled, recyclable and reusable packaging.  

The Body Shop has always been a big player in the sustainable-beauty game with cruelty-free beauty products in recycled packaging. The recycled plastic used is also Community Fair Trade. The Body Shop is also rolling out a nationwide in-store refill system for its shower gels, handwashes and shampoos/conditioners, so keep an eye out in your local store. 

Meanwhile, REN’s Ocean Plastic bottles are made from materials collected from oceans, rivers, river banks and beaches. The compromise is a slightly grey hue (which makes each bottle unique) as the bottles carry over some of the colour from their past life. And the metal-free pumps are easier to recycle, too. 

Dove has introduced 100% recycled plastic bottles into its range, and more than 85% of Aveda’s skin and haircare products are made entirely from recycled materials. Where it can’t use PCR plastic, it is incorporating bioplastics (made from sugar cane stalks, which are a by-product of sugar production) that are quickly renewable.