Sustainable changes to make your beauty routine

Our beauty routines should feel positive, with mood-boosting makeup and comforting scents. Our bathroom stash should feel like somewhere to escape to for small acts of self care.

There’s just one problem, we know that these pick-me-ups might be costing the earth. From the plastic packaging filling land fills, to cosmetic chemicals washing away down the drain and disrupting marine life, our beauty routines and habits can have a huge impact.


We might think we can’t change the world in a big way through the Organic or Vegan skincare  products that we choose, but cumulatively, a switch as simple as ditching our daily face wipes could save thousands from entering our oceans throughout our lifetime.

With more brands innovating to come up with a league of creative and sustainable skincare solutions to the problem, the choice is ours. We just have to make it.

Here’s 5 easy ways to make our beauty routine more planet-friendly…

1. Switch to solid soaps and shampoo
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 switch-up here. Increasingly, brands are turning to solid bars to massively reduce on waste on three fronts.

First, they reduce the use of packaging. Lush’s Naked bars leave behind zero trace, while others from the likes of Ethique and Garnier’s Shampoo bars use only a small amount of recyclable FSC certified cardboard packaging.

Second, they reduce water consumption, since they make use of the water you’re already showering in to lather up.

Third, they save on emissions since they weigh considerably less than heavy bottles of shampoo and conditioner and take up far less space when being transported. Making it an easy switch with a huge environmental pay-off.

2. Treat your skin to a hot cloth cleanse rather than face wipes
There’s no denying that face wipes are convenient, but 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). Water UK revealed that wipes accounted for 93% of sewer blocks, while a gruesome phenomenon called fatbergs (floating stacks of congealed waste including face wipes and sanitary items) have built up in our rivers.

Combine this with the fact that every derm and their dog will tell you face wipes don’t clean our skin well enough, it’s high time we switched to a cleaner alternative. There’s numerous options open to us, but the old-fashioned route of a hot cloth cleanse with a flannel is one of the most effective ways to thoroughly clean skin.

3. Consider refillable options
Once we have a pump bottle for our hand wash, or a beautiful compact for our blusher, we really don’t need the full shebang all over again when it runs out. Think of how much packaging goes into the exterior of our products – springs in pumps, mirrors in compacts, heavy jars for fancy moisturisers. That’s where refills come in, and you’d be surprised at just how many brands have already got on board.

4. Switch to products in recycled, recyclable and reusable packaging
If you haven’t heard of of PCR (that’s post-consumer recycled) plastic, you’re about to see a lot more of it. Brands recognise that creating packaging out of virgin plastic when there’s so much of the stuff going to waste already, is madness. That’s why brands like REN are leading the way by putting existing plastic to good use. Their Ocean Plastic bottles use 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 much easier to recycle, too.

Elsewhere, brands have turned their focus to materials that can be more easily reused such as glass and aluminium. The trailblazing initiative, LOOP, has partnered with beauty brands such as Nivea, REN, Beauty Kitchen and Molton Brown (alongside food and drink brands and TESCO) to create a waste-free delivery system of sustainably packaged products straight to your doorstep. Think of it like the milkman of beauty. They’ll drop off a glass or aluminium bottle full of your favourite body wash or shampoo, and when you’ve used it up, they’ll come and collect it.

5. Get a recycle bin for your bathroom
It seems an obvious one, but there’s no point in making the switch to more recyclable beauty products if we then don’t stick them in the right bin. A study from Recycle Now found that even though we’re pretty good at recycling our kitchen waste (90% of kitchen packaging is recycled), we’re lagging behind in our bathrooms, where only 50% of packaging is recycled.

To make it easier, stick two bins in your bathroom, one for general waste and one for recycling.