I was doing one of my quarterly skincare cleanings when I stopped to look at a pile of used, discarded plastic. I once used to be proud of my mega stash of serums, essences, and cleansers, but now I look at it and all I see are bottles and jars floating in the ocean.
Look, I know that I’m just one person and I’m not single-handedly responsible for all of the plastic in the ocean or how our recycling system works in the U.S., but I also don’t have to contribute more trash than necessary. So, I set off to try to make my skincare and beauty routine more sustainable. Want to find out how? Read on!
Focusing on Packaging
One of the biggest factors in how sustainable a skincare routine is is packaging. More brands are getting on board with eco-friendly, recyclable, and reusable packaging, but the reality is, most of the products we use on the daily can’t be recycled or reused. Take my subscription to Curology, for instance. It comes packaged in a plastic pump bottle that a) I can’t even open to get all of the product out and b) can’t be recycled because of said pump. I’ve been using Curology for over two years on a shipment schedule of every other month, so that’s at least 12 bottles that are just sitting in a landfill somewhere. It’s not much, but think about all the other Curology users (or anyone who uses products that can’t be recycled). It adds up!
So now, I’m trying to focus on using products that have recyclable, reusable, or refillable packaging. Cleansers are probably the product I’m buying most often because I use them so much, but I recently discovered the Drunk Elephant Pekee Cleansing Bar. It’s a gentle, non-drying bar soap (yes, these do exist, believe it or not) that comes packaged in biodegradable cardboard. I’ve had my bar for AGES, and it’s still going strong.
Reducing Single-Use Products
It hurts me to even type this, but the truth must be told—sheet masks (the single-use kind in the one-use packaging) are just so wasteful. And I LOVE a good sheet mask. I have hundreds in my stash, and every time I use one I gotta admit, I feel a tiny bit guilty. Thankfully, there are brands that have heard my whimpers at night. Honest Beauty makes a reusable silicone sheet mask that you soak in your favorite serum or essence. You can reuse it for several months before purchasing a new one, plus you can concoct and customize your own serum/essence blend to suit whatever specific skin woes you have.
I’ve also stopped using cotton pads and have graduated to using washable bamboo ones from Paula’s Choice. You just slip them in their little carrier and toss them in the wash each week. I like to throw them in my Sunday linen/towel load so they’re ready for the new week on Monday.
Repurposing What I Already Have
Now, sustainability also doesn’t mean going out and buying a whole new set of sustainable products for your skincare routine while you have perfectly fine stuff sitting at home. So now, I’m committed to not only using all of my current products but finding a new home or repurposing products when I need to. Did you know you can clean your old mascara wands and use them as brow brushes? Well, now you do! I also use my mini jars to make little pots for the tiny succulents I like to keep at my desk, and I’ve also reused jars to keep my makeup brushes in, too.
My current fave brand is Youth to the People—everything is packaged in glass, so you can easily recycle it, or use rubbing alcohol to remove the lettering and repurpose it. I’ve used my Youth to the People cleanser bottles as hand soap bottles and have recycled countless of their oil and overnight mask bottles. It makes me feel like I’m doing my part in helping Mother Earth. I’m also committing to not buying any more of a product until I finish one, instead of hoarding skincare like the apocalypse is coming.
What are some ways you are making your skincare routine more sustainable? Let me know in the comments!