4+ Bathroom Switches To Make Your Beauty Routine More Sustainable in 2021
The bathroom. For some, it provides a chance for relaxation and reflection, for others it’s no more than a convenience stop. It’s not, however, always the first place you might think of when it comes to recycling. Undoubtedly and maybe even unwittingly, our bathrooms are lined with multitudes of beauty products, even those of us not quite yet committed to a 12-step skincare routine, and it’s these products that are causing quite the blockage.
According to Resource.co, it is estimated that only around 50% of bathroom waste is recycled, with women’s cosmetic products contributing on average 527 items of waste per year. If those numbers leave you reeling (as they should) and wondering what you can do to improve your carbon footprint, read on…
Searching for sustainable products to replace your old and less favourable looking ones isn’t a walk in the park; in the past decade we’ve gone from having a retrospectively narrow selection of cosmetics, to the industry experiencing a rapid expansion, causing new brands to appear and grow at an exponential rate. The upside to this of course is the abundance of new ecologically friendly brands that grew up alongside their less-carbon-aware competitors. The downside, however, is that shopping down what used to be one aisle has morphed into something more like trying to navigate your way through an Amazon warehouse. Blindfolded.
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To try and help guide you through this cosmetic maze, _shift spoke to two women familiar with sustainable beauty to get their input on what changes we should all be making.
Make-up artist Lou Dartford (Instagram @loudartford_mua) started her commitment to sustainability nearly ten years ago, not just by incorporating green products in her personal life, but switching over items in her make-up kit too; Dartford told _shift: “I’d always been interested in natural health and was a keen environmentalist so it was natural that it spread into my professional life.”
“I initially discovered ‘green’ beauty via an organic body cream and incorporated it into my personal beauty routine, it sparked something – it really made me think about what I was putting on mine and my client’s skin. As I delved into the subject, I realised that many of the products I was using were not great for the environment either,” she says.
For Evelyn Wolf (Instagram @beautywolfgirl), a beauty blogger who focuses on sustainable products, the spark that caused her to become more ecologically vigilant came in a different way: “I started to study Environmental Science at uni part-time and quickly learnt how fragile our ecosystem really is and how much biodiversity we were losing every year due to unsustainable consumption and mainstream agriculture practices,” she says. In the five years since, it has been her prerogative to integrate more sustainable products into her daily life.
So what are the kind of changes the _shift reader should be looking to make to their routine? Firstly, swapping out your single-use products for a more sustainable option. That includes every-day culprits such as cotton buds, pads, and arguably worst of all – face wipes. According to Statista, 36% of 18-29 year olds use face wipes every day, largely contributing to the 11 million wet wipes used per year in Britain. Not only are the wet wipes causing chaos in our sewers, but Marine Conservation Society figures show that the number of wet wipes washing up on our shores has increased by 50% since 2013.
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Tip: Dip the tips in make-up remover before use to get the most optimal result 💄 💋 👄 #lastswab #swabyourhabits #makeup #lesswaste
The good news is there are many eco-friendly alternatives now readily available. Although plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be banned in the UK from April 2021 (yay!), paper-stemmed buds are not the only substitute available. Brands such as LastObject have created reusable cotton buds which are easy to clean and crucially, can be used multiple times; the LastSwab comes in two types of bud, Basic and Beauty, and according to their website can supplant up to 1,000 normal single-use cotton buds.
If the thought of giving up the convenience of the wet wipe has you trembling, fear not… we’re not suggesting you re-wear your daily make-up until it literally falls off your face. Again, a plethora of ecologically considerate products are available to help you take the day off. If you like a deep cleanse, you can opt for a natural cleanser such as those created by Tata Harper that will gently take off makeup and other grime, usually just with the aid of warm water. If something else is needed to get any excess off, muslin cloths provide a sustainable option for a small price. Reusable tools such as the Face Halo pads have been a popular choice amongst beauty bloggers, and are perfect or those who often travel or don’t enjoy an overly complicated routine, as they only require warm water to take makeup off.
What’s more, quality and sustainability are no longer mutually exclusive, according to Wolf, who told _shift: “When I first started to make sustainable beauty swaps, there was a lot of trial and error involved as some natural or eco-friendly products don’t always have the same efficiency or desired results as their mainstream counterparts,” she says. “As consumer demand has grown so much for sustainable products, the formulas are a million times better now so it’s a lot easier to make the switch these days.”
In terms of using sustainable alternatives, Dartford says: “If you are buying reusable pads to wash your face, look for coloured ones as I find the white ones can look so grubby so quickly, I find this with white muslins too – especially if you wear a lot of eye make-up. I love a simple darker flannel or a konjac sponge – these are brilliant, they last a few months after which you can pop them in your compost or food waste.”
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Face Halo Original and PRO ✨ Which is your go-to?
When it comes to the things you use daily, there are obvious changes that can be made to your buying habits. Buying refillable or plastic-free packaged products looks to be the future for the beauty industry. Big name brands such as L’Occitane and Lush have been leading in this area for a while, but there is a rise in smaller brands coming through with their own take on sustainability such as The Soap Co., who offer a range of skincare, bath and shower products that are either recyclable, compostable or completely plastic free in their packaging.
Speaking to _shift, Raphaelle Archambeaud-Sicot, Sustainable Development Director for L’Occitane told us: “From the beginning, we were moved by a desire to protect the nature that taught us so much: the secrets of plants, their exceptional properties, and the incredible powers of their active ingredients. Making a commitment to protect nature and the people around was for us an obvious, natural choice.”
“It’s always been obvious for us, but now it’s more than that, it’s a necessity. We need to act. We aren’t only aiming at protecting nature or limiting our impact, but also to have a positive impactive whilst doing “regenerative business”. For example, we contribute to restoring eco systems and work towards ecological transition of our company and our partners, hand in hand with them,” continued Archambeaud-Sicot.
“We are trying our best, we are not perfect and we can’t always do what we would like to do, but we never stop trying. There is the essence and the reason of our brand.”
Brands such as these are filling a clear demand, highlighted by a report from Mintel which stated that 55% of those purchasing plastic packaged items in the soap, bath and shower category would be interested in buying products with reduced/no plastic packaging, a figure which rose to 68% in those aged 65 and over. Whereas shopping for eco-friendly brands used to be a fragmented experience, shops such as Wearth and Planet Organic are dedicated to selling organic, natural and sustainable brands in one place, making the act of purchasing these beauty products even easier.
Green beauty blogger Ana (@Anagoesgreen on Instagram) shares some of her favourite independent brands with _shift: “I love using my refillable make up from a brand called Kjaer Weis, it is beautiful quality and the products are fantastic to use,” she says.
“I switched to a safety razor from Muhle rather than a plastic one and it is a really easy swap to cut down on plastic in the bathroom. My children and I all use bamboo toothbrushes from Organically Epic, they really last well and when you are finished with them the handles can go straight in the compost when you remove the head.”
Once your products come to the end of their life, it is imperative to recycle your waste properly so they don’t end up in landfill, and that still counts even if the packaging isn’t made from plastic. While RecycleNow provide a helpful guide to understanding the symbols on your packaging, a growing number of brands are offering their own in-house recycling schemes. In fact, most brands even give you a reward in exchange for your trash. Lush has it’s infamous black pot recycling system where you can bring your used packaging in exchange for a new face mask. Kiehls offers a similar scheme where you receive a stamp for every empty full-size product you bring to them. Ten stamps = a free travel size product. Bonus.
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As of today, the Lush website is going completely egg-free! Unconvinced that even the very best egg production is free from suffering, we have removed eggs from all of our products, replacing them with great ingredients such as linseed and aquafaba so you still get the best results. The new Liverpool store is one of the first shops to get these new innovations with many more following in the following months, so check them out in store or go online. #EggFree #LushLiverpool #LushCosmetics
“I recycle old products and packaging via various schemes – mainly Terracycle via L’Occitane and Neals Yard Remedies” says Dartford. It’s brands such as L’Occitane that go even further by recycling not just their own brand, but any empty beauty products.
Wolf recommends taking a similar approach to both our beauty and general waste: “Although recycling is by no means ideal, I’d like to encourage people to make the effort to recycle any waste that they consume, so this could be anything from recycling crisp packets with TerraCycle to finding ways to re-use an old moisturiser pot as a plant holder – anything to prevent that waste going into landfill!”
Limiting consumption by really considering one’s needs before buying is another significant change that can be made. “The first place to start for anyone wanting to be more sustainable is to look at the products they are using and to decide which ones they really enjoy and need” says Ana. “It isn’t something the industry wants to face up to, but the reality is that we all need to consume less not more. As products run out you can then look at replacing them with other options,” she advises.
If you find a product to be absolutely vital to your daily life and therefore cutting it out isn’t an option, consider turning your hand at making your own. For example, a quick google search for home-made shampoo brings up masses of easy recipe which will often contain less chemicals than your usual off the shelf product.
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Clean, energised and healthy looking skin? Yes please! Our Overnight Reset Serum, Radiance Scrub and Oil-to-Milk Make-up Remover are the perfect beauty essentials to recharge and erase the impacts of stress and exhaustion this season may bring! 📷@bodymindgirl #LOccitane #BeautyEssentials #BeautyRoutine #SerumRadiance #BeautyOil #Skin #Scrub #Serum #Immortelle #Routine #Clean
It’s precisely the contents of our products that Dartford believes that we should be paying just as much attention to as the packaging: “Packaging is a really great place to start when thinking about what products you use, but also think about what is in those bottles. Things like mineral oil and other synthetic ingredients are by-products of the petroleum industry which of course is non-sustainable.”
She continues “silicone is another thing to think about, this is found is so many products but it doesn’t degrade so when it gets washed down the sink, it can end up anywhere and stay there, essentially like a microplastic. Some chemical sunscreens are damaging the coral reefs as well.”
Of course, it’s not just swapping out beauty products that we should be funnelling our energy into- “I’ve been looking into living more sustainably in all areas of my life over the past few years so this extends to not driving a car, taking as few flights as possible, buying organic food & not eating meat, reducing my plastic waste and choosing not to have children” says Evelyn. “It’s an ongoing journey and buying sustainable beauty products is just one aspect of something that we can all look into and explore,” she stresses.
While our efforts as individuals will go some way to lowering our environmental impact, Dartford, Wolf and Ana all agree that change from big industry players is essential to create real revolution. “I would like to see more brands thinking about how they can minimise their environmental impact, whilst still providing fantastic products. Sustainability needs to go beyond marketing hype and become an ingrained ethos for it to be truly transformative,” says Ana.
Nevertheless, an increased demand for everyday sustainable products will always put pressure on larger companies to supply, and it is in this sense that we must individually lead the change for a more sustainable future, even if it is one shampoo at a time.