The beauty industry is a major contributor to worldwide pollution. But thankfully you don’t have to choose between being a beauty-lover and a friend of the planet.
Social change isn’t always about radical moves. Making tiny changes here and there can really add up over time—especially when it comes to making changes to our beauty regimen. Here are a few *small* beauty tweaks that can have a BIG impact on our planet.
SWITCH TO A NATURAL SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen is a very important part of any skincare regime, but you have to be careful about what kind of sun protection you’re using. Sunscreens that contain the active chemical oxybenzone (which washes off of our bodies and into oceans) is responsible for killing coral reefs and also damaging the DNA of the plants and animals that live in the coral.
Of course you should never skip wearing sunscreen, but you should switch to a sunscreen that’s oxybenzone-free and uses minerals like zinc oxide or titanium oxide as their active ingredient instead.
CUT OUT AEROSOLS
Canned aerosol products like dry shampoo and hairspray need compressed gases and hydrocarbons to work. When used, aerosols emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contain carbon and vaporize in the air, which we then breathe in. These chemicals contribute to ground-level smog, which research shows may be linked to asthma. So do yourself and the environment a favour by switching to pump-fuelled containers of your favourite aerosol beauty products.
TAKE A WATERLESS SHOWER
Thanks to dry shampoo, you’ve probably already cut down on washing your hair—something that saves 10 gallons of water per shower—but if you want to up the ante, you can cut out an entire shower’s worth of water waste. Try ditching water altogether and use a rinse-less cleansing foam on your body, which will get you clean without the need for water.
Recycling beauty products isn’t as easy as you’d think. Lots of beauty products have packaging that contains a variety of thick plastics and mixed metals and since different materials need to be separated and sorted, the mixed nature of cosmetic packaging makes recycling them tricky. So be sure to take part in special recycling initiatives from your favourite beauty brands.
Kiehl’s has offered its Recycle and Be Rewarded program since 2009 and it encourages customers to return ten empty containers in exchange for a new product. MAC offers a similar program with its Back to MAC initiative that gives you a free lipstick of your choice after returning six of the brand’s containers. Keep an eye out for these programs to help simplify the recycling process.
BUY SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS
When trying to make eco-conscious beauty purchases, it’s important to pay attention to what the products are made of and how they are made. When you purchase a sustainable product, you’re choosing a beauty product that makes sure everything from sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, and selling is making an environmental impact.
Lush’s Charity Pot is a great example of this. The self-preserving lotion does a lot of good for your skin, while also helping out the planet by donating 100 per cent of its sales to small grassroots organizations working in environmental conservation, animal welfare, and human rights. Eos also has a limited edition marine collection that celebrates the use of organic, natural botanicals while also putting a spotlight on ocean conservation.
BUY IN BULK
The beauty industry created 120.8 billion units of packaging in 2008, 40 per cent of which was hard plastic. Unfortunately, hard plastic never fully degrades and once it’s in a landfill, it’s there forever. So we have to do our part in reduce, reusing, and recycling what we can.
One fix is to buy larger containers of your favourite products. If you always buy the same moisturizer, buy it in the biggest size possible as one large container contains less plastic than several smaller ones. Many eco-friendly brands also offer refills for a reduced cost if you bring your original container back to the store.
By: Brooklyn Neustaeter