Conversations about how to live a more sustainable and low-waste lifestyle have been ramping up in frequency, but often the topic of beauty waste gets left out. Canadian households produce over 10 million tonnes of waste per year, and making an effort to lower that number has to involve the topic of personal care products. Beauty is one of the areas where we can create enormous amounts of waste, but it often gets overlooked. We’re less likely to compromise our routines because it’s what gives us comfort and the thought of sacrificing the experience and results isn’t something that many want to risk.
The good news is that there are simple practices that won’t compromise the enjoyment you get out of using skincare and makeup, but will also do its part at reducing the amount of garbage you’re creating day-to-day. There are new, innovative products launching on a regular basis that are making the battle to reduce waste much easier. Find some tips and products below that will help you to transform your beauty routine to be more environmentally-friendly while allowing you to maintain the best skincare and makeup results.
Trade disposable wipes for a face cloth
It can be easy to reach for the nearest disposable wipe when it’s late at night and the last thing you want to do is wash your face. Many wipe options on the market are made of synthetic fibres, pile up quickly in the bathroom wastebasket, and don’t degrade when they reach the landfill. Synthetic wipes are often made of plastic fibers such as polyester and rayon, and are even associated with causing sewer blockages. Also, from a skincare perspective, wipes are often not the best replacement for doing a proper cleanse. They can leave makeup residue behind, which can lead to congestion. Opt for using a cleanser and wash cloth instead, like these 100% hemp ones from North American Hemp Co.
If you can’t bring yourself to give up wipes, choose a biodegradable option. There are an increasing number of biodegradable and natural wipes arriving on the market. Find options at your nearest health food store or clean beauty retailer. Kaia Naturals The Vitamin Cleanse Facial Wipes are infused with honey and jojoba oil and are wonderful for all skin types. Plus, they’re biodegradable and compostable, which means they’ll lessen your daily beauty footprint.
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Use reusable cotton pads for makeup removal
Eye makeup removal is a messy job. It makes sense that we typically reach for a classic, disposable cotton round or puff to get layers of mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow and primer off, but imagine years of these materials getting thrown in the trash. The contribution to waste is undeniable and completely avoidable. Many brands are now offering reusable cotton pads that can be thrown in the wash and endlessly repurposed. Thread and Designs make 100% bamboo cotton pads that come with a laundry bag, making it super easy to toss them in the wash.
The same goes for toners and facial mists. Choose a reusable pad for application or mist on with a spray bottle. Using a spray bottle will give you the most use out of your product, without having to wash a reusable pad, which is an added benefit for your wallet and the environment.
Use reusable swabs and cruelty-free makeup brushes to fine-tune makeup.
For a quick eyeliner fix or to strategically smudge eyeshadow, reach for a makeup brush or reusable swab. This wasn’t an option in the past, but reusable swabs are now available. KOPA makes reusable silicone swabs that are a replacement for using approximately 2000 disposable cotton swabs. It comes in a handy case for travel and will hopefully make our societal cotton swab obsession a thing of the past.
A clean and cruelty-free makeup brush dipped in a bit of makeup remover will work just as well to refine winged liner and fix other mistakes. Also, using a soft blending brush to smudge eyeshadow can offer even more precision and control than a cotton swab. Eco Tools is an affordable, cruelty-free and vegan brush line. Their brush handles are made of recycled bamboo and aluminum and the company takes part in social causes aimed at providing school supplies and education for girls all over the world.
Do makeup like a pro and use a palette
In every professional makeup kit you’ll find a stainless steel palette that artists use to dispense products onto, like foundation and cream eyeshadow. If you find you’re constantly wiping the back of your hand with pieces of tissue to get makeup off, try a reusable palette and clean it with dish soap afterwards. It’s super pro, sanitary and keeps you from creating unnecessary paper product waste. Also, the back of your hand can have a tendency to absorb liquid, which means using a palette will result in your products going the extra mile. Palettes are available at most makeup stores, or, even better, repurpose a mason jar lid from your kitchen.
Ditch the sponge
Sponge applicators can harbour bacteria, are often made of materials that don’t degrade, and contribute to landfill waste. Try selecting products that don’t come with a disposable sponge and choose to apply makeup with your fingers or a brush. Years of sponge trends and disposable applicators add up and they’re completely unnecessary when looking to get professional makeup results.
Each change that you make to reduce the amount of beauty waste that gets tossed in the garbage makes a huge difference in your household’s overall contribution to helping the environment. Choosing to be mindful when enjoying skincare and makeup products is a great way to thoroughly appreciate the process and feel good about doing your part to change the inherent disposable nature of the beauty industry. Get creative and you’ll be amazed at how little ends up in your trash.
Christine Jairamsingh is a makeup artist and clean beauty consultant based in Toronto. View her Clean Beauty Services here.