How to Create a Zero Waste Beauty Routine You Love

You want to look and feel your best while caring for the planet, but starting a zero-waste beauty routine from scratch can feel overwhelming. 

The good news is, incorporating zero-waste beauty into your life can be easy, affordable and fun! In this post, we walk you through the process of discovering a sustainable beauty routine that’s as unique as you are.

Waste from the Beauty Industry

Think back to the last time you walked down the beauty aisle at a store. Can you picture the colorful displays of shiny plastic supplies? As you know, many conventional beauty products come in plastic tubes, bottles and palettes. 

In fact, Zero Waste Week found that more than 120 billion units of cosmetics packaging were produced in 2018 alone. Unfortunately, these mixed-material plastics are difficult to recycle. Producing and shipping all these products also creates harmful emissions. 

You may also struggle to find things that work well for your skin. This means you end up with a mess of half-used products cluttering your bathroom.

What is Zero-Waste Beauty?

You can reclaim your counter space, time and energy with a zero-waste beauty routine. Zero-waste beauty means focusing on sustainable products that are great for your skin and the planet. These products prioritize natural ingredients and thoughtful packaging.

A zero-waste beauty routine can help you simplify, save time and reduce decision fatigue. And best of all, you can enjoy happy, healthy skin without harsh ingredients or harmful waste.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Zero-Waste Beauty Routine You Love

Whether you’re already using some sustainable beauty products or just getting started, we can help. 

You don’t have to change everything at once. You also don’t need to go through your bathroom and throw away every bit of plastic you find. Instead, focus on making simple changes at your own pace.

Remember, the goal isn’t perfection. It’s to build a routine that meets your needs while reducing waste whenever possible. Over time, you’ll find a groove that’s just right for you. Here are some actionable ideas to help inspire you.

Start by Replacing Single-Use Items

Single-use items are some of the biggest contributors to landfill waste and some are used for a just few seconds before being thrown away. After that, they can take centuries to decompose.

Swap Face Wipes for Reusable Cloths

In the United States, we throw away over 20 million pounds of single-use wipes every day. Many of these wipes are made from plastic fibers and create harmful microplastics as they break down.

Switch to washcloths that can be washed again and again. Organic cotton and bamboo washcloths are luxuriously soft and eco-friendly. And they clean gently, without the harmful ingredients found in some face wipes. 

Try rolling a few washcloths and placing them in a basket or bowl on your bathroom counter. This adds extra convenience to your routine and makes your bathroom feel like a spa!

Use Reusable Makeup Remover Rounds

Cotton rounds or balls may seem too tiny to create much waste. However, multiplied by millions of people, they add up quickly. 

These reusable cotton facial rounds are soft yet durable. You can also make your own from extra fabric. Then, on laundry day, add them to your wash and use them again. The fabric gets softer with each wash. 

Make Your Own Face Masks

Single-use sheet masks create plastic waste and often contain irritating ingredients. Next time your skin needs extra love, try a quick one-ingredient face mask. 

  • Oily/combination skin: one egg white (optional: a dash of lemon juice)
  • Dry skin: ½ mashed ripe avocado
  • Sensitive skin: 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • Stressed skin: 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey

First, clean and dry your face. Apply a thin layer of the mask, avoiding your eyes and mouth. Let it absorb for 15-20 minutes, then rinse with warm water and pat dry. Enjoy your freshly-pampered skin! 

Choose Your Essential Skincare Products

When I lived in South Korea, I was impressed by my friends’ devotion to skincare. I’ve always favored a minimalist approach, so I’m a fan of the South Koreas beauty trend: skip-care. 

Skip-care means paring your skincare products down to the basics. That way, you avoid wasting space, time and money. And choosing a few quality zero-waste beauty basics helps you make your routine easier on the planet.

Everyone’s skin is unique, so your skincare essentials will be unique, too. In general, a good place to start is with a gentle cleanser, moisturizer and sun protection. You can also add a face oil or toner if needed. Rosewater is an easy DIY toner that’s great for all skin types. And if you need to take off makeup, coconut oil removes cosmetics without any chemicals.

Curate Your Zero-Waste Makeup Collection

When you’re shopping for zero-waste makeup, look for minimal, compostable or recyclable packaging. 

One easy way to make your makeup more eco-friendly is by finding multipurpose products. For example, Lip Cheek Stain can add a splash of color to both your lips and cheeks. 

Other priorities to watch for include clean ingredients, a cruelty-free certification or sustainable sourcing. Some of our favorite brands include Fat & the Moon, Elate Cosmetics and RMS. 

Keep Looking for Fresh Ways to Go Zero-Waste

Once you find your zero-waste beauty groove, keep the ball rolling! We have time-tested tips and hacks to help you reduce waste in your hair care routine and even your dental hygiene. 

You can also:

  • Buy from brands that take back empties for recycling 
  • For plastic-packaged essentials, buy in bulk sizes to reduce packaging waste when possible
  • Dispose of empty packaging according to local recycling guidelines

And finally, talk with loved ones about your sustainable self-care and invite them to join you! You can even host a zero-waste spa night to show them how rewarding it can be.

Caring for Our Beautiful Planet

One thing we love about sustainable living is that you can feel great while making a meaningful impact. And the simplest things often make the biggest difference, like rethinking the way you care for your skin.

We can’t wait to hear about your unique zero-waste beauty routine. We’re always looking for inspiration, so if you have any tips, share them in the comments below.