As someone who loves fashion and beauty, I understand the allure of cosmetics and other personal care products. However, its apparent that there are two glaring issues when it comes to beauty products – the waste they lead to and the use of unhealthy ingredients in product formulas.
You may wonder- aren’t there regulations that should prevent this? While the Food and Drug Administration does make recommendations to companies, its power is restricted (Winter). Oversight thus falls on the shoulders of the manufacturers. They may be more concerned with profits and be busy employing “greenwashing” techniques while keeping formulas unhealthy (Riccolo). Ingredients are also of concern due to possible impurity. Metals, for example, have been found in cosmetics. They can potentially cause harm as they can accumulate in the body over the years (Bocca et al). While it is true that natural ingredients may cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis, the same risk applies for conventional products (de Groot et al., Pan et al). Clean beauty is thus the better choice due to its comparatively positive or neutral impact on one’s wellbeing.
“Clean beauty” is advantageous and differs from conventional beauty products in that it utilizes primarily natural ingredients in product formulation. To go along with their green image, companies may possibly employ sustainable practices and materials not only when it comes to the product but also in terms of its packaging. This is a commendable choice considering that considerable plastic waste comes from the “application tools and containers” used for cosmetics (Baczkowska). The cosmetics packaging industry is a behemoth; in 2018 it was worth $25.9 billion (Drobac et al). Plastics account for greater than half of said packaging industry (Drobac et al). The ubiquity of disposable plastic is a problem when it comes to beauty just as much as it is a problem when it comes to other sectors such as food and beverage packaging.
You may feel that these facts constitute a call to action. If so, read on to learn about ways you can make your beauty routine more waste and health conscious!
Buy a durable or biodegradable face scrubbing tool. Purchase EcoTools’ recycled face brush, or handmade items from Etsy.
Buy reusable cotton cloth rounds. This way, you’re not throwing out a bunch of cotton rounds every time you take off your makeup. Keep in mind that cotton is also an incredibly inefficient material to produce.
Pay attention to the ingredients in your skincare for better looking skin and increased health. Take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and learn more about the ingredients that go into the products you reach for.
Add your hair to compost or donate it to projects such as the Clean Wave Program from Matter of Trust. The program collects hair and fibers for use in things like booms that are employed during oil spills.
Instead of a plastic hairbrush, opt for a bamboo one.
Buy minimal ingredient shampoos and conditioners and recycle any packaging once you have used up items.
Opt for solid shampoo and conditioner bars rather than plastic bottles of liquid product.
The first and most important step in reducing the amount of makeup related waste you generate is to avoid buying too much makeup. You can save money by not impulsively shopping whenever there’s a sale. Instead, only buy something when you need it and use it until it is completely finished.
After finishing products, see if you can recycle their packaging through programs with organizations like TerraCycle.
If you have old, expired eyeshadow, consider making an art project out of it and using it for paintings.
See whether there are refillable options you can make use of, as beauty brands have been employing this option as of late (Coelho et al).
Check for products using biodegradable, compostable or recycled/recyclable packaging.
When it comes to cutting down on cosmetics with potentially harmful ingredients, there may be a Clean Beauty section of the store you’re shopping at that you can consult.
Simple DIY Cosmetics using natural ingredients are another option.
Whether we consider skincare, haircare, or makeup, the cosmetics industry must reckon with its production of personal care items that are unhealthy for both the human body and the Earth. Through simple and straightforward changes, you can have a say and support change for the better!