When I first got into cruelty-free and vegan makeup, I was motivated primarily by animal welfare ethics and wanted to keep my routine as similar as I could to what it was before I made the switch—even if that meant using products that are not great for the environment.
Because so many vegan and cruelty-free makeup brands also fall into the realm of “green beauty,” I thankfully ended up learning the benefits of purchasing more natural and eco-friendly products on the environment and on my health!
Although I am still working on finding ways to reduce waste and the number of harmful chemicals I let slip down the drain, I wanted to share a few easy and effortless swaps that I have implemented to make my beauty routine more friendly to our planet!
1. Ditch single-use products
If you are trying to reduce your amount of waste, the number one thing you can do is to quit purchasing single-use products! It is easy to use items like Q-tips, cotton balls, and even single-use face masks daily without realizing how all of that waste adds up in a landfill.
Luckily, it is super easy to find reusable face cloths, cotton rounds, and other alternatives online—even on Amazon! Personally, I love the reusable cotton rounds I got from Juniperseed at Package Free NYC. It is super easy to just throw them in a bra bag and into the wash. I also love the money I save by not purchasing disposable cotton rounds!
2. Opt for natural, non-toxic ingredients
Everything you wash off of your face or hair and into the shower drain ends up back in nature and back into our food system. Unfortunately, cosmetic ingredients lists are often not very intuitive, listing long scientific names with no indication of their effect on the human body or the environment.
To avoid harmful chemicals, opt for brands and products that use ingredients you can pronounce or that you know are non-toxic. I love using the Think Dirty app to decode ingredients lists and quickly find out what isn’t so great for my body! My guess is that if you shouldn’t ingest BHA, fish probably shouldn’t either.
3. Buy in bulk
Everyone loves using samples or trial sizes to test products, but it’s so so much better for our planet to buy in bulk! Once I find a product I like, I buy the largest size available to keep any unnecessary packaging out of the trash. Most bath products such as shampoos, scrubs, lotions, and soaps can be purchased in a fairly large size.
For example, I absolutely love EVOLVh’s moisture shampoo and conditioner, so I buy their 2-liter duo. Although it can be a bit more expensive up front, you usually get way more for your dollar when buying in bulk, and end up having to purchase those items less often.
4. Recycle or up-cycle used packaging
So many products today come in super cute and high-quality packaging, so why throw it out! I love using emptied and rinsed small bottles to hold shampoo and hair products for airplane travel, or reusing a small tub to hold a homemade scrub.
It takes minimal effort to walk from the bathroom trash can to the recycling bin, but that effort has a huge impact on the amount of waste you accumulate! Simply tossing used plastic packaging into the recycling bin takes about 10 seconds but prevents 450+ years of that bottle decomposing in a landfill or in our oceans.
5. Invest in quality, long-lasting tools
Investing in high-quality blow dryers, makeup brushes, and hot tools will amp up your getting ready game, and can also help our environment! Finding tools that you love and that will last for years prevents the annoyance of having to find a new tool like a hair straightener every year, and reduces your amount of waste.
Depending on where you live, electric tools can be difficult to recycle and often end up in landfills. Other reusable tools like makeup brushes are made of many different materials, making it difficult to find out how to dispose of them. I have been eyeing some high-quality brushes from M.O.T.D. Cosmetics to amp up my blending skills!
6. Find double-duty makeup
Finding natural, non-toxic and double-duty alternatives to products you repeatedly buy helps prevent waste and prevents toxic ingredients from entering our oceans and soil. Easy to find basics like coconut oil and Dr. Bronner’s soap have many uses, even outside of your beauty routine!
I find that coconut oil makes an amazing eye makeup remover, hair mask, and is a great alternative to unhealthy oils in the kitchen! (Lol.) Dr. Bronners or similar Castile soaps can be used as hand soap, body wash, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent and more. Swapping out multiple harmful products for one eco-friendly alternative can greatly reduce your environmental impact.
7. Avoid animal-based ingredients
If you didn’t already know, animal agriculture is hazardous to the environment due to the carbon emissions from factories and transportation of the animals, as well as the methane that the animals produce. Luckily, going vegan can have a huge positive impact! I wouldn’t necessarily call going vegan an effortless change, but you can still make small changes in that direction.
When you buy products that contain animal ingredients, you are often indirectly supporting the same corporations that raise and slaughter animals for food. For example, gelatin factories are often built near slaughterhouses to use their leftover animal products, or (even worse) they raise and kill their own animals for skin and bones. The gelatin is then used in creamy cosmetics or nail treatments.
8. Try making your own scrubs and masks
Making your own scrubs and masks can help you save money while reducing the amount of waste you are producing and the number of toxic chemicals you use in your routine. I love combining coconut oil with white sugar as a face and body scrub, or making a hydrating face mask from avocado!
It’s very easy to find DIY masks online, and most of them use edible ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Who knew that cinnamon could be so beneficial for fading acne scars or that oatmeal can tighten your pores! I love making these DIY facemasks from the By Chloe blog.
9. Give away what you don’t like
How many times have you purchased makeup, used it once, then ended up throwing it away a year later even though it was basically full? I am not sure about you, but I have done this more times than I care to admit!
Even though many stores have generous return policies for lightly used products, most stores end up trashing these like-new products, purposely damaging them so that no one will take and resell them from the dumpster. If you end up disliking something, it may be better to gift it to a friend or a family member who it would be better suited for! Just remember to sterilize any makeup with alcohol before sharing.
9. Support sustainable beauty brands
One of my favorite ways to greenify my beauty routine is to support and promote sustainable beauty brands! Green beauty brands like OSEA, 100% Pure and W3LL PEOPLE always use natural and non-toxic ingredients, and most take measures to remain environmentally-friendly throughout the production process. Plus, buying from these brands takes the guesswork and ingredient-checking out of finding eco-friendly and safe products!
What are your favorite ways to reduce your environmental impact? Leave a comment below and let me know!
Featured Image from cookinglight.com