- Clean Beauty
- Swaps for Eco-Friendly Beauty
10 Easy Sustainable Swaps for a More Eco-Friendly Beauty Routine
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to be more eco-friendly this year? Or maybe you thought about it and felt like it was going to be way too hard. Trust us, we know how overwhelming it can be to just think about overhauling your life to be more sustainable, especially when it comes to skin and beauty.
Not only do you face mountains of research into sustainable brands or the perfect moisturiser that comes in recycled packaging but also won’t make you break out, but you also have to fight the temptation of beauty gurus flaunting the latest innovative lip product in twenty gorgeous shades —plus see all the depressing stats about the planet while you’re at it.
Luckily, with consumers becoming more conscious every day about how they spend their money and putting pressure on big companies, it’s only going to get easier to pluck a product off the shelf and know that it was created with sustainable practices, is easily recycled or refilled, and/or serves several purposes in your routine. Until we live in that paradise, you’ll need to do a little research along the way—but we’re here to help!
We’ve waded through tonnes of research to bring you ten easy switches you can make to create a more eco-friendly beauty routine. Make these swaps gradually as you run out of product to take some of the stress off your mind and your wallet (plus, it goes against the entire point to just toss out items that don’t fit the bill).
1. Ditch single use products
Products that are one-and-done immediately go to the landfill (where they sit for we shudder to think how long), and that’s not taking into account all the resources that go into making disposable products, just for them to be used for two seconds. In 2023, let’s cut out as much of this as we can, replacing makeup wipes and cotton balls with real cleansers, face cloths and reusable pads.
Not only will this save you money in the long run, but it’ll do its bit to save the planet too. And you’ll never have to worry about running out!
Here are a few of our favourite reusable alternatives to kick off your sustainable beauty routine.
The Organic Pharmacy Organic Muslin Cloth£3.60 £3.79 (6% off)
Wipe away cleanser and face masks easily with 100% organic cotton face cloths like this one, which also gently exfoliates.
Pestle & Mortar Double Sided Face Cloths£12.82 £13.50 (6% off)
One side of this face cloth is made naturally exfoliating muslin whilst the other is made from smoother, polishing cotton.
Alpha-H Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads£15.88
These pads are also a super handy option, and bamboo is a great resource as it grows incredibly quickly!
And if you like using makeup wipes when you’re travelling, consider replacing it with micellar water, which also doesn’t require water and just needs a cloth or cotton pad to remove all your makeup, dirt and oils.
2. Opt for biodegradable products
If you can’t let go of your under eye patches and sheet masks—don’t stress. A lot of them are actually biodegradable nowadays! Here are some lovely options from our favourite brands to keep spa night eco-friendly.
Sheet masks still usually come in packaging that can’t be recycled though, so feel free to browse our extensive collection of face masks to cut down on packaging.
PIXI GLOW Glycolic Boost Sheet Mask Pack Of 3£10.18
The microfibre material of these sheet masks is biodegradable, and the 5% glycolic acid will leave you glowing.
Skin Republic Retinol Infusion Face Sheet Mask£3.10 £4.99 (38% off)
Most of Skin Republic's sheet masks and eye patches are biodegradable, as well as the packaging itself! This mask contains retinol to support collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
BIOEFFECT EGF Eye Mask Treatment£33.25 £35.00 (5% off)
Biodegradable and water soluble, these masks smooth, firm and nourish your under eye area with hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
3. Build a multi-purpose skin and makeup collection
So this point is one where it can be really tempting to buy a bunch of stuff, as you delve into a YouTube rabbit hole of swatches of lip and cheek tints, but there are plenty of other ways to incorporate multi-use products once the originals run out (but yeah, we love the lip and cheek tints too).
From SPF moisturisers to brow gel-mascaras to hand balms that work on your lips and hair, there are so many multi-tasking skin and makeup products out there that will simplify your routine, declutter your shelves and make getting ready a breeze! Plus, ‘skinimalism’ and making your products work harder for you have been trending for awhile now, and this is a great, non-wasteful way to be on trend.
Here are just a few we love for an eco beauty routine.
Jane Iredale Forever Pink Lip & Cheek Stain£21.99 £32.30 (32% off)
Super creamy and hydrating, this pigmented stain swipes easily over your lips and cheeks to enhance any skin tone.
Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid Hydrating Foundation£11.46
Makeup and skincare combos are another favourite multi-tasking category here at Cosmetify. We love this hydrating foundation from Maybelline that uses hyaluronic acid and collagen to keep your skin looking hydrated and plump whilst covering your blemishes all day long.
Benefit Hello Happy Velvet Powder Foundation£14.60 £27.50 (47% off)
If you prefer a powder foundation or have oilier skin, using a product like this one from Benefit cuts out the need for both a foundation and a setting powder.
Dr. PAWPAW It Does It All 7 In 1 Hair Treatment Styler£9.50 £12.99 (27% off)
You probably know of their lovely lip and cheek balm, but Dr. PAWPAW also carries other multitasking products like this 7-in-1 treatment and styling product for hair. It offers heat protection before styling, detangles, heals split ends, frizz and flyaways and more.
4. Choose products with eco-friendly packaging
When you’re on the hunt for a new product, consider the packaging it comes in. Even if you use a multi-purpose product, that packaging needs to be thrown out eventually.
We recommend buying items in glass, aluminium or cardboard where possible. Plastic recycling methods are always getting better and a lot of brands take packaging back that can’t be recycled through curbside services, but plastic can only be melted down so many times. On the other hand, glass and aluminium can actually be recycled an infinite amount of times and paper is compostable.
Like we keep saying, just do what you can, because we know it isn’t easy to find plastic-free makeup.
Here are some brands and products with eco-friendly packaging to save you a little time.
The Ordinary Multi Peptide + HA Serum£16.55
Glass can be infinitely recycled (and it also makes your collection look more luxe). Serums often come in glass so this is an easy switch to make if you aren't already accidentally incorporating it, though you will have to throw away the rubber top. This serum, previously known as The Buffet Serum, is one The Ordinary's most popular products for the peptide technology and multiple types of hyaluronic acid within it that give its powerful skin smoothing and firming properties.
WE ARE PARADOXX Repair Shampoo£19.91
Get all your hair and body care needs covered with the aluminium-packaged products that WE ARE PARADOXX carries, like this lovely strengthening shampoo.
5. Go waterless
Whilst we’re on the topic of packaging, going for solid cleansing products instead of water-based ones that come in plastic bottles is another great and simple way to reduce waste. You can get shampoos and even sometimes conditioners in bar form, and of course, don’t forget a good ol' bar soap that cuts out the need for shower gel. Plus, bar soap gets a point for being multi-tasking too, since you can do soap brows with them!
And bars like these usually come in only recyclable cardboard packaging.
weDo Moisture & Shine No Plastic Shampoo Bar£11.16 £14.95 (26% off)
Christophe Robin Hydrating Shampoo Bar With Aloe Vera£16.15 £17.00 (5% off)
Aloe vera and glycerin in this shampoo bar nourish and hydrate your hair to give it a glossy finish.
Thalgo Marine Algae Solid Cleanser£9.65
Cleanse and detoxify your skin with the mineral-rich marine algae in this solid cleansing bar from Thalgo.
Moroccanoil Cleansing Bar Fleur D' Oranger£8.42 £9.90 (15% off)
This gentle cleansing bar works up to a lovely lather with an invigorating orange scent. Argan oil and shea butter moisturise as you cleanse.
6. Opt for refillable products
Refillable products are gaining traction and we love them! Even better than recycling your packaging (think of the order of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’), refilling keeps packaging from landfills and reduces the resources needed to recycle. Plus, you usually save money on the refills since they don’t come in the same cute cases or bottles as the original.
Here are a few of our favourite refillable products.
Jane Iredale Amazing Base Refillable Brush£39.95 £61.50 (36% off)
These refillable brushes come with cartridges of powder to give you a natural, buildable coverage and a luminous finish. It conceals your pores and fine lines, and even gives you up to SPF20 protection with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
The Organic Pharmacy Eco Refillable Rose Diamond Collection£300.20 £390.00 (24% off)
This skincare set from The Organic Pharmacy is refillable once you run out, so you can keep using the cute pink packaging and save some money on these luxury products.
7. Shop from eco-friendly brands
Voting with your dollar (or your pound) is a great way to show your support for brands that are going the extra mile to use sustainable practices, materials and ingredients.
Here are just some of the ones we love to get you started.
REN Evercalm Barrier Support Elixir£42.99 £44.00 (3% off)
Ren only package their products in recyclable, recycled and/or reusable packaging as part of their Zero Waste Pledge, and many of their ingredients are sustainably sourced.
This face oil from the brand strengthens your skin barrier with meadowfoam seed in just a week!
WE ARE PARADOXX Detox Dry Shampoo£19.42 £20.00 (3% off)
We already mentioned WE ARE PARADOXX but we had to mention them again, as this is a plastic-free brand with tonnes of goodies your hair is going to love.
It's really rare to see an non-aerosol dry shampoo, so we wanted to highlight this awesome powder formula (packaged in aluminium and glass) that combats oiliness for a refreshed look and gives you extra volume. And by extending the time between wash days, you use less water too!
Aveda Damage Remedy Intensive Restructuring Treatment£36.73
Consider buying from a brand with a 'take back' programme that will recycle any bits like pumps and plastic wrappers that can't be disposed of in curbside recycling.
Aveda is one such brand, making it easy to enjoy products like this repairing treatment. It strengthens chemically treated or otherwise damaged hair with its nourishing blend of meadowfoam seed, jojoba and castor oils.
8. Try products that contain algae
This might seem like a weird tip, but sometimes the products we consume contain ingredients that are really taxing on the planet. Algae and other marine extracts, however, turn carbon dioxide into oxygen as they grow.
And they’re great for your skin.
Read all about the benefits of algae in our ingredient glossary page here, and check out some of our favourite products below.
ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Ultra Rich Marine Cream£54.00 £89.00 (40% off)
This intensely moisturising cream, enriched with anti-ageing algae, is just one of many products from ELEMIS that contains this amazing ingredient. We recommend checking them out for all your algae-inclusive skincare needs, especially if you have mature skin.
Emma Hardie Moringa Renewal Treatment Mask£50.40
This face mask nourishes all skin types, reduces pigmentation and smooths deep wrinkles. With a blend of amino acids, hyaluronic acid and moringa in addition to red algae, you can expect more luminous, hydrated skin.
9. Choose a reef-safe SPF
Coral reefs are a super important part of our environment and ocean life, but certain components of sunscreens can cause coral bleaching and other damaging effects.
Check out our full blog on SPF that's coral reef friendly here or choose from our favourite reef-safe options below.
REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30£31.81 £33.00 (4% off)
Housed in a recyclable tube and made with naturally-sourced zinc, this sun screen also soothes any irritated skin, making it great for sensitive complexions.
Saltee Face Sea & Sun Formula SPF 50£30.40 £32.00 (5% off)
Lightweight and non-greasy, this sunscreen comes enriched with cucumber extract and birch water to hydrate and soothe your skin whilst protecting it.
Lastly, for a tip that requires not buying anything at all, try upcycling your empties into something useful and/or cute!
Some of us at Cosmetify are definitely guilty of buying the pasta sauces with the cutest jars to use after consuming, and there are plenty of uses for your makeup and skincare packaging after you use them up.
Moisturiser jars can hold all kinds of things for travelling whilst perfume and serum bottles can become vases or reed diffusers, and mascara wands are great for shaping your brows or flicking on fake freckles. The possibilities are endless!
Now that you’re all prepped for a more eco-friendly beauty routine, why not check out our recommendations for Vegan Products to Try this Veganuary or make your makeup collection totally cruelty-free with our Top 20 Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands?
Written by Gabriella Buckner
Gabriella is a junior content writer with a background in creative writing, content marketing and journalism. She’s passionate about all things makeup and skincare, but especially vegan and cruelty-free beauty that is effective and inexpensive.