Sustainable swaps for your beauty regime

With the news full of scary stories about climate change, we can be left feeling helpless and like there is nothing we can do. Whilst it is important to recognise most pollution is caused by big companies, making little swaps in our daily routine can help us make a difference and protect our planet.

There are lots of sustainable swaps possible for your beauty routine. This article will cover just a few of these possible swaps to get you started on your journey to sustainability. The key with sustainable swaps is trying to think of ways to replace single use products.

Please be aware not every swap will be possible or accessible to everyone.

Reusable cotton pads

For our first single use product, we are looking at make-up wipes and cotton wool pads. These are quick and easy ways to remove make up after a long day and after seeing all the product left on them, you feel like your skin is clean.

However, if you think about how many you would use in a year and throw in the bin, you can see this generates a lot of waste. Make up wipes are usually not recyclable or compostable and take 100 years to decompose. When flushed down the toilet, these end up on beaches and are dangerous to our marine life. In the UK, 35 wipes are found for every kilometre of beach!
Make up wipes also only cleanse the surface of your skin and do not fully remove all the residue from your make up and dirt in your face. They can also clog your pores and rubbing your face with them can cause irritation, damage the skin’s elasticity and lead to premature ageing. Cotton wool pads also are bad for the planet, with the manufacturing of them being a huge drain on the environment because of the intensive use of chemicals, water and deforestation needed. They contain plastic which means they do not biodegrade and contribute to the already huge amount of plastic pollution.


Instead of single-use cotton pads and wipes, swapping to reusable face pads or muslim cloths can help you make your daily routine a little bit kinder to the planet. These have grown massively in popularity recently and are available at high street shops like Holland and Barrett, Boots and even supermarkets so you can grab some on your next food shop.

Sparkle sustainably!

Glitter is normally made of plastic and when our face glitter gets washed down the drain it can end up in our oceans. Similar to microbeads, the plastic in face glitter is too small to be filtered out at water treatment plants and can enter our food chains after being ingested by marine life. However, this doesn’t have to dull the upcoming festive season! Biodegradable face glitter is available and is a safer way to sparkle your way into winter.
Bigger is better!

Getting your favourite products in jumbo versions requires less packaging and by purchasing the same product less, you also reduce the need for shipping.

PS Normally, bigger versions are also cheaper in the long run and much less faff as you don’t need to keep re-ordering. A win, win!

Chose the best packaging

The packaging used for your beauty products also is hugely important when considering their sustainability. Lots of beauty products come smothered in plastic packaging. Think of your make-up, shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser and much more. Instead, looking out for naked products or products in glass, paper or cardboard can help reduce your plastic waste. Gaia and Vie are hugely committed to keeping plastic out of products and have recently been awarded plastic soup’s plastic free certification! Other brands focussing on reducing their plastic waste include Lush, All Earth Mineral Cosmetics, Nicmac Beuaty and the Body Shop.

Buy local

The miles your beauty products travel before they reach you can be huge. The transportation of beauty products worldwide pumps out greenhouse gases into the air. Buying local reduces these emissions and has many wider sustainability benefits! Buying local supports your local economy and creates valuable jobs. It also strengthens communities and local culture. It is also easier to track the production line when it is local than when the product has been created out if the country.

Avoid palm oil
Palm oil is in huge demand worldwide and is useful for things as varied as helping lipstick hold its colour and stopping pizza dough sticking. It is a common ingredient in many beauty products.
Palm oil itself is not actually a terrible ingredient, but the farming method used to grow palm oil damages peatlands. Peatlands are hugely important for storing carbon and destroying them directly fuels climate change. They are also important habitats for animals, including endangered gorillas and damaging peatlands threatens our planets biodiversity.
However, boycotting palm oil isn’t the only solution. Palm oil is actually more land efficient  than many other oils. Instead, if your beauty products contain palm oil, ensuring this is sourced from a sustainable source could be an option. The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil helps you track the palm oil supply chain and check whether your products are sustainable.
If any of these swap ideas have inspired you, make sure to use up your current product before swapping to a new one, as throwing away beauty products is not helpful. For more sustainable swaps have a look at our blog posts on sustainable swaps for bathroom and kitchen.
Leave any swaps you are loving in the comments below

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