Since health and safety always have to come first, our favorite place to start when shopping for cosmetics is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database. The EWG also has a great app which allows scanning of barcodes of products to see the level of toxicity of the ingredients. Any chemicals that are bad for your body are most likely also bad for the environment, so this is a good way to screen products.
EWG is always adding more products to their database, so we check in every now and then to make sure the products we’re using are still meeting their safety standards. Another wonderful app for scanning barcodes or browsing healthy products is called Think Dirty— we’ve even found a few coupons to our favorite brands here too!
However, it can be hard to find EWG-certified cosmetics brands that are also zero-waste. Some packaging-conscious brands include Lush, Elate, Antonym, and Faraday Face. Burt’s Bees has a free recycling program and many products that are rated a “2” on EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database.
When shopping in general, be selective about the packaging. Glass, metal, and paper/cardboard are all recyclable materials, if you are able to properly clean before recycling. Plastic can typically only be recycled once. Simply picking these over products packaged in plastic reduces the amount of plastic that must eventually be thrown away.
The most zero-waste approach to personal care products, especially since they tend to last a long time, is to use up what you have before buying anything new. When you do choose to buy new cosmetics, keep the following in mind:
Here are a few packaging-conscious cosmetics brands to try out: Good Medicine Beauty Labs (skin care items in glass containers), Kari Gran (makeup and skin care products in glass containers), Lush (skin care products and makeup in recycled plastic containers, along with many package-less products). If you have a favorite zero waste skin care routine, please feel free to share!
Zero-waste skin care can be tricky, especially for sensitive skin. We haven’t totally dialed in our skin care systems yet, but we’re working on it. High-quality, zero-waste skin care can be expensive and hard to find. One way to work around this is to make your own skin care products, like this recipe for face lotion, which allows you to control the quality, sourcing, and packaging of the ingredients.
Commercial perfumes are filled with toxic chemicals that are bad for the environment. A ridiculously simple and safe way to make your own perfume is to mix organic essential oils with vodka in a glass spray bottle. You can customize your own scent, and we promise you won’t smell like booze!
When shopping for deodorant, pick something that is free of aluminum, parabens, and other harmful ingredients. Chagrin Valley has a great organic deodorant that comes in multiple scents (or unscented) a biodegradable tube.
Native has some wonderful-smelling deodorants that work very well too. Although Native is packaging-conscious, their deodorants do come in a plastic tube. Once the tube is finished, the remaining nub of deodorant can be composted (since the ingredients are all natural) and the plastic portion can be recycled.
Hairspray has gotten a lot of press in the past few decades for the harm it’s CFC’s have done to the ozone layer. Like any aerosol, it releases harmful chemicals and is difficult to recycle. We know that sometimes hairspray is really the only way to get your unruly mane under control. All we ask is that hairspray not be a part of your everyday regimen, only for very special occasions.
Another way to cut out aerosols from your beauty routine is to use this organic, non-aerosol dry shampoo. It works wonders and is easy to apply – it comes in a bottle like baby powder.
You can change out home waxing strips for this great cold wax since it comes with washable fabric strips, works even better, and causes less irritation! It’s definitely non-toxic because it’s only ingredients are sugar, water, and citric acid.
Traditional sunscreen products are causing permanent damage to our planet’s coral reefs. Luckily, by using sunscreens made with non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, are safer for the coral reefs because the larger particles can’t be ingested as easily by the coral.For a zero-waste, organic, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen option, try out this brand, since it comes in a biodegradable tube. It can also be used on lips as a lip sunscreen. Or you can make your own sunscreen!
Removing Make Up
To recycle personal care products that aren’t reusable or recyclable, send them to Terracycle, a recycling program for products that can’t be recycled in municipal recycling. Mascara wands can be sent to Wands for Wildlife, a charity that uses used mascara wands to remove fly eggs and larva from the fur of wild animals.
For more zero-waste cosmetics ideas, take a look at our Cosmetics board on Pinterest!
Disclaimer: We receive no financial compensation for any of the products recommended or shared anywhere in this blog.