How to build a sustainable beauty routine


Much global attention has been given to making smarter fashion choices when shopping for clothes, but not enough has been said about sustainable beauty.

The personal care industry is worth US$500 billion annually and has grown tenfold in recent years, so one can only imagine the waste it produces. Considering that most beauty products come packaged in plastic, our average moisturiser bottle can take 1,000 years to decompose, and that’s not good at all.

So here’s a question for us: How can we make our beauty routines more eco-friendly?

sustainable beauty
(Photo: Getty Images)

What exactly is sustainable beauty?

Sustainable beauty is more than just a buzzword — it’s a movement that we should try to live by as much as possible. It’s about adopting more eco-friendly choices and purchases for our beauty routines. Also, supporting ethical and sustainable beauty brands and products is the way forward.

What to look for in a sustainable and ethical brand?

While no brand or product is perfect, just think about it this way – what are the brands that are going the distance to make the world a better place? No brand ticks every single box on a list of criteria but a good way to pick your beauty products is by keeping the following factors in mind:

– If the ingredients are cruelty-free, organic, vegan and palm oil-free

– If the ingredients are sourced ethically

– What charitable practices does the brand follow

– Thoughtful packaging

– Their waste and resource management

If a product characterises any one of these factors then it’s certainly a step in the right direction. A few brands that are doing good for the movement thanks to their charitable practices, ingredients or packaging are MAC, L’Occitane, Kiehl’s, Aveda, The Body Shop, Innisfree, Armani Beauty, Clarins, and Burt’s Bees.

sustainable beauty
(Photo: Getty Images)

Small changes we can all make to be more sustainable

The beauty industry is obviously not something we can change overnight but just by being a bit more environmentally conscious and spreading awareness to your near and dear, you can do your bit to save the planet in your own small way. Here are a few simple changes that we could all adopt to make more sense of the sustainable movement.

1. Recycling is key

While reduce and reuse come before this step, do try to be more mindful about trashing your empty bottles when you’re done with a product. Luckily, there are so many brands that have fantastic initiatives for championing recycling. Take Kiehl’s for example, you get a stamp for every full-size bottle you take back and for every 10 stamps, you get a travel-size product free.

sustainable beauty
Kiehl’s has fantastic initiatives for championing recycling. (Photo: Kiehl’s)

MAC’s Back to MAC campaign also rewards you with a free lipstick for every 6 empties. If you’re wondering which other brands are going green, Innisfree, L’Occitane and The Body Shop are a few brands that are great champions for the cause.

2. Beauty share

Have you ever bought a much-talked-about skincare product or lipstick only to realise that it just doesn’t work for you for whatever reasons? Most of us have. Instead of letting them waste away till way past their shelf life, give them away to friends and family.

Who doesn’t love receiving free beauty products? So go on, make someone’s day by gifting them barely used beauty products. This way, we’re buying and consuming slightly less.

sustainable beauty
Make someone’s day by gifting them your barely used beauty products. (Photo: Nars)

3. Removing makeup guilt-free

Wipes are a saviour for lazy days and late nights, we all know it. But seriously, they’re actually not good for your skin and especially not good for the earth. These single-use products contribute to landfills in whopping numbers.

Invest instead in reusable towels or pads or simply products that don’t need cotton pads. Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm literally melts away makeup as you rub it into your skin. It’s so easy to use and won’t have any environmental repercussions.

sustainable beauty
Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm literally melts away makeup as you rub it into your skin. (Photo: Clinique)

4. Packaging matters

Plastic is such a huge no-no and that includes those shampoo bottles and squeezy tubes we all have lying about. Aveda is one brand that should be on all our sustainability radars — not only are its shampoos and conditioners amazing, but it also repurposes materials to make recycled bottles. That’s a huge win.

Also, try to choose skincare products that come in glass bottles as much as possible. It’s a simple step and luckily so many serums and creams come in glass packaging nowadays so it’s a pretty easy rule to live by. Plant-based plastics and natural cork are other biodegradable materials that are now being used for packaging.

Opt for skincare products that come in glass bottles. (Photo: Shutterstock)

5. Saying no to minis

Many of us have a soft spot for minis. Your favourite product in an adorably tiny package perfect for travelling — we can see why they’re so popular.

But seriously, these products that offer maybe one or two uses are the opposite of eco-friendly. It’s smart to invest in a set of travel containers that are high-quality and can be used over and over again. It’s a really simple switch to make and these are really the simplest ways to make beauty routines eco-friendly.

Invest in a set of travel containers that are high-quality and can be used over and over again. (Photo: Sephora)

6. Rethink your consumption

Another great idea is to make the most of those double-duty products to cut down on consumption as well as to avoid hoarding endless tubes and jars. BB creams are fantastic as they are moisturisers and light foundations/ concealers in one, and some even have SPF. Using bright eyeshadows with a thin brush as colourful eyeliner and conditioner as shaving cream are also smart ways to use one product in multiple ways.

sustainable beauty
Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Cream is a moisturiser and a primer. (Photo: Bobbi Brown)

A few simple switches can really go a long way, the Earth’s beauty is the only beauty we should be worried about. If we all make a point to even adopt two of these changes we can make a difference. It’s time to be sustainable together.

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India

(Main and featured photos: Getty Images)

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