Want to establish an eco-friendly skin care routine? I believe that starts by finding what’s sustainable for you and the planet – a happy midway point, if you will.
It’s important to purchase products that are made using organic, natural ingredients, but it’s also important to think about packaging.
And, let’s not forget, it’s just as important to consider what products actually work on your skin in the long run.
Cause honey, it’s not sustainable for you if it does nothing for you! Here are my best kept eco-friendly skin care routine tips.
9 Eco-Friendly Skin Care Routine Tips
- Read the Ingredients Label
- Go For Vegan and Cruelty Free
- Opt For B Corps
- Look For Minimal Packaging
- Grab Some Reusable Cotton Pads
- Use Up Your Products
- Recycle or Upcycle Your Empties
- Talk To And Email Brands
- Stick With What Works
1. Read the Ingredients Label
One of the best things you can do is check the ingredients label on your skin care items. As a general rule of thumb, look out for ingredients that you can’t pronounce or even read.
Better yet, try to look them up to learn what they are. Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a great resource for beauty ingredients called Skin Deep. You simply type in an ingredient and it’ll tell you what the concerns with the ingredient are, be it cancer or allergies.
You’ll want to prioritize natural ingredients that you can pronounce. Even better, look for organic ingredients in your skin care whenever possible, as these will be grown with sustainable farming practices.
Wildcrafted ingredients are also fantastic – these ingredients are grown in the wild and sustainably harvested by hand.
Wildcrafters must gather these plants and herbs responsibly to minimize the impact on the local ecosystem, so these products tend to be made in smaller batches.
2. Go For Vegan and Cruelty Free
Whenever possible, choose skin care products that are vegan and cruelty-free. Vegan means it’s made without animal or animal by-products. Cruelty-free means no animals were harmed in the making of the product.
It’s becoming more taboo but many conventional skin care (and makeup) brands like to test their products on animals. This is never okay because the animals can get hurt and they never consented to live their lives in a lab.
Also, if a brand “has” to test on animals first before testing on humans, it makes you question what exactly is in those products?
Why are they wary of human trials? It seems extremely suspicious to me – and not something I’d want on my skin.
3. Opt for B Corps
If you can, look for a skin care brand that’s a certified B corporation. To become a B Corp, you have to go through rigorous assessments, pay a fee, and meet certain standards.
B Corps have a strong focus on these three standards: Environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.
Normal businesses have one bottom line – to make a profit. But B Corps have a triple bottom line that considers planet, people and profit into all their decisions.
Some amazing skincare brands that are B Corps include Kypris, Ethique, Captain Blankenship and Beauty Counter. Each of these brands strive towards using thoughtful packaging and reducing their overall carbon footprint.
4. Look For Minimal Packaging
Speaking of packaging, opting for brands that use less excessive packaging is always the best bet. Especially plastic packaging, as only 9% of plastic actually gets recycled.
I’m sure this has happened to you: You’ve ordered skin care online only to have it come in lots of plastic you had no clue how to recycle. Or if it even was recyclable.
Truth is, the less packaging you have to deal with, the better. Excessive packaging is a waste of energy and resources because it will likely just wind up in the trash anyway. Or worse, our environment.
Look to brands that use cardboard, paper, glass and aluminum in their packaging. Better yet, brands that utilize recycled materials instead of virgin materials (which consume more energy and have to be harvested unsustainably from the earth).
Brands that offer refills are also incredible and help cut back on so much waste. Activist Skincare and Plaine Products offer refillable skin care products.
You can learn more about zero waste facts & myths here.
5. Grab Some Reusable Cotton Pads
Skip the cotton balls and opt for reusable cotton pads. These can be washed and reused over and over again. At the end of their life, you can simply compost them.
If you’re crafty enough, you can make your own reusable cotton pads at home using an old cotton t-shirt and some sewing gear. However, these can also be purchased online if you’re not adept at sewing.
You can use these to remove your makeup, apply toner, or exfoliate your face. Make sure to wash them every week and have enough on hand! You can upcycle a jar to be their holder on your bathroom sink.
You can also learn more about creating a more eco-friendly home here.
6. Use Up Your Products
Imagine this: You just bought some new skin care products only to realize you haven’t finished your old ones. You dump the old ones out anyway – now wasting all the packaging and ingredients that went into making those products to begin with.
Please don’t do this. If you can, always finish up your skin care products before disposing of them. It’s wasteful to dump a half-finished product in the garbage.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to products that irritate or damage your skin. Absolutely stop using those right away and dispose of them. Or see if someone else can use them. But on normal circumstances, don’t.
To get the last drop out of your squeezable products, I recommend cutting them open and using what’s inside. This way, every drop gets used up and there’s no waste.
7. Recycle or Upcycle Your Empties
When you’re done with your products, you’ll want to make sure you don’t just toss the empties into the trash. Find a way to recycle or upcycle them, if possible.
I will say some brands make this challenging – I’ve seen some pretty ambiguous packaging where it’s not exactly clear what material it’s made out of.
And a lot of people get confused when they see the little recycling symbol on the bottom of a container – this doesn’t automatically mean you can recycle it. It’s just meant to tell you what kind of plastic it’s made out of.
Here’s what you need to know: Glass and aluminum packaging is infinitely recyclable. However, there are seven different kinds of plastics and typically, plastics number 1 and 2 tend to be the easiest to recycle.
But this really depends on your local recycling laws, as every state is different. Check your .gov for more information.
Truth is, smaller containers are often never recycled properly as they can easily get lost in the recycling process. I advise looking into Terracycle – they have a personal care and beauty recycling program that accepts hard to recycle empties from any brand. Certain beauty brands also have specific collection programs with Terracycle you can look into as well.
As far as upcycling goes, get creative! There are so many ways to upcycle a container. Got an empty plastic pump? Fill it up with homemade lotion. An empty jar?
Use it to store dainty jewelry or make a DIY candle. A plastic bottle? Upcycle it into art – paint over it, cut it up and glue it onto paper to make a collage, bedazzle it – whatever you like. The possibilities are endless.
You could even reuse the containers by taking them to be refilled at a local bulk store. If you have a bulk store near you that offers package free lotion, face oil, and face wash – you’re in luck!
8. Talk To And Email Brands
Do you love a specific brand but wish they would up their sustainability initiative? Talk to them about it! Trust me when I say brands care about making their customers happy. And if enough people want it, they’ll be forced to make a change.
Consider DMing a brand on Instagram or Facebook to chat with them about their packaging and/or ingredients. Tell them what you love about their brand first so it doesn’t come off too aggressive, then get into the problem and a potential solution you believe could work.
For example, maybe they use too much plastic packaging. Tell them how hard plastic is to recycle (only 9% of it actually gets recycled) and that you think they should offer refills to reduce the packaging needed. You can also email them if DMing isn’t successful, or you feel you have a lot to say. I’ve emailed plenty of brands about their packaging before – but you can also talk to them about their ingredients as well!
9. Stick With What Works
One of the most sustainable things you can do is sticking to a routine that works for you. If you’re constantly jumping around from product to product, that’s not exactly sustainable – even if the products you’re using claim to be.
For example, when I started having problems with adult acne, I was so determined to find something that was zero waste that worked. I tried so many different products and none of them were really doing anything for me. But when I found a solution, even though it wasn’t completely plastic-free, it would’ve been silly of me to let that go. It also would’ve been wasteful.
There’s another component to this too – mental health. I was so mentally drained from dealing with my adult acne I would’ve given anything to make it go away. So when I found a solution that was made with mostly clean and cruelty-free ingredients, I jumped at the opportunity. It wasn’t perfect because of the packaging, but seriously, sometimes you have to make exceptions. I won’t sit here and tell you manuka honey in a glass jar will solve all your skincare problems.
You have to do what works for you, and if that means using a product packaged in plastic, so be it. Just try to keep your skin care routine as minimal as possible.
This is also true if you have to visit a dermatologist – if you feel your skincare needs are dire enough, don’t let your desire to be eco-friendly stop you from seeing one. You have to do what’s best for your health, both physically and mentally.
Plus, the quicker you can solve a skin issue, the better! That means less products will need to be used in the long run which means fewer packaging, ingredients and energy goes to waste.
What do you think of these eco-friendly skin care routine tips? Which will you try?
About the Author:
Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on Going Zero Waste, Mother Earth Living, Green Matters and several other publications. Get her free e-book “10 Ways to Reduce Trash” by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.