Eliminating Waste From Your Skincare & Beauty Routine

I’m not much of a make-up user, but I do use it now and again, and I am shamefully into skincare. Skincare and make-up can seem like difficult areas in which to cut down on waste, but there are definitely ways to make a few sustainable swaps in that department.

First and foremost, though, the best thing you can do is cut down on what you use. Stop buying products just to test them out or just for a single event. Find a routine you like, and then stick to that — buying as little as possible and producing as little trash as possible.

I’ve finally nailed down a really great skincare routine, and the only make-up I really use is concealer, powder, and mascara. I’ve also got eyeliner for the rare occasion in which I want it.


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It takes forever to use up old makeup, but as you do, make the switch to companies like Alima Pure, Elate Cosmetics, Ecco Bella, Kjaer Weis, Zao Organics, or RMS Beauty. With many of these companies, once you buy a single compact, you can buy refills (which consist of just a metal tin in a paper sleeve), so you’re not replacing all that plastic each time.

I’ve found most of my stuff at the Detox Market in Toronto, where I can try before I buy.


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You can make your own deodorant, but I’m not a fan, so I’ve been using Meow Meow Tweet’s grapefruit-scented deodorant, which comes in a paper tube. MMT also has a deodorant cream available in a glass jar, and so do several other green companies. Crystal deodorant stones are an option as well, but they’ve never worked very well for me. Find what works for you and then stick to it.


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I also don’t use perfume too often, but when I want it, I have glass tubes of roll-on perfume or solid perfumes (which come in metal tins). Roll-on perfumes are actually pretty easy to find (just look at all these Sephora options!), since they make great travel companions, but you can also take a look at Pacifica Beauty‘s awesome selection.

Lush also makes some nice solid perfumes that come in metal tins, but I find these a little harder to maneuver than roll-on perfume.

Lip Balm

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Lip balm is easy — pick anything in a metal tin rather than a plastic tube (though I’m still making it through the million and one lip balms I’ve had stashed in every coat and bag for years). The one pictured above is from Lush, but Nuxe also makes a nice glass-packaged lip balm. Paper-packaged lip balms also exist, like this one from Meow Meow Tweet, and they’re probably the most zero-waste option out there.

For god’s sake, do not buy something like the overly-packaged EOS lip balms.

Side note: if you are also prone to becoming a dragon lady in the winter like I do, start drinking way more water. It doesn’t matter if you apply lip balm hourly if you’re dehydrated.


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I saved the best for last here. For skincare, try to find anything packaged in glass or metal rather than plastic. Deciem’s The Ordinary is f*cking fantastic and mostly comes in glass bottles.

At the moment, here’s what I use:

  • I still use Clinique’s plastic-packaged Acne Solutions line. I already have it, so I’m using it up before trying to find new alternatives. If I don’t find any zero-waste options I love (or if my skin doesn’t handle just eliminating this step entirely), I’ll probably continue buying this (albeit in the biggest options available to reduce waste).
  • The Ordinary’s advanced 2% percent retinoid at night and niacinamide during the day.
  • Moisturizer (working through all the old plastic-packaged stuff in my cabinet before replacing) mixed with Odacité’s serum.

That’s essentially it. As I use up the stuff I still use that’s packaged in plastic, I’ll probably replace it with a facial soap bar and a glass-packaged toner and moisturizer. Those are both super easy swaps to make.

Looking for other areas to make some sustainable swaps? Take a look at how to make your bathroom entirely zero-waste — and if you have any suggestions for other great swaps, let me know.

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