Sustainable Skincare Swaps To Save The Planet

Want to greenify your beauty routine? These sustainable skincare swaps are a great start!

By Gina Gambir

When our skin feels good, we feel good. Yet, when it comes to surveying the impact of the beauty industry on our environment – well, let’s just say the results aren’t quite as radiant.  

This may have something to do with the fact that every year, the global cosmetic industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging, with 2.7 billion plastic bottles hitting the landfill. Just from beauty products alone! If this continues, then by 2050 we could be looking at a shocking 12 billion tonnes of plastic in landfills. Insanity, right?

But there are some solutions. Some actions we can take. With the help of Pure Skin Lab, we’ve come up with some eco friendly skincare swaps to save the planet. They’re easy to do. So why not start today?

Sustainable Skincare Swaps To Save The Planet

1. Swap conventional skincare for organic products

With so many products on the market today, it can be confusing to know which are potentially damaging to the environment and wildlife. But generally, anything that contains any of the ingredients below is more likely to harm the planet:

  • Synthetic fragrances – whilst they smell good, they can be harmful to the environment when washed away. It’s better to opt for natural fragrances, derived from essential oils.
  • Silicones – commonly found in moisturisers and serums, silicone has been found in many marine ecosystems.
  • Chemical sunscreens – SPF is an essential step in everyone’s skincare routine for protection against UV rays, however, chemical sunscreens have been proven to be toxic to coral reefs and are said to have contributed to their disappearance around the world.
  • Parabens – many parabens from products, such as moisturisers, have been found in surface waters and have been proven to cause damage to marine ecosystems as well as damaging coral.
  • Mass produced products – the increase in demand of a product, means crops needed for production are often sprayed with harmful chemicals. These chemicals are then at risk of runoff into water sources impacting both the environment and local people, often in developing countries.
  • Glitter and microbeads – as you probably know, glitter is basically just plastic. The same goes for microbeads. When they get rinsed down the sink, both of these products do irreparable harm to marine systems.

The solution? One of the easiest of all the sustainable skincare swaps. Switch to organic skincare products, of course! And avoid microbeads and glitter like the plague.

Eco friendly skincare swap to try:

One Love Organics is a favourite brand around the world, and for good reason! Their products not only contain only the highest quality, totally biodegradable, organic ingredients, but they’re also packaged in brown glass bottles. Just keep reading this page to see why that’s important!

My pick of the best of their products? Their Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm. It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it works wonders to hydrate chapped lips, rough elbows, cracked heels…you name it!

Sustainable Skincare Swaps


2. Swap plastic packaging for glass

Admittedly, we just can’t avoid packaging. I mean, how else will you take a skin cream from a store? But the kind of packaging a brand uses matters. While plastic has its benefits (it’s lighter than glass), glass is a far superior packaging option. It’s much better to go plastic free whenever possible!

There are plenty of reasons for this.

  1. Brown glass jars and bottles naturally prevent beauty products from going off.
  2. Glass, unlike plastic, does not contain any harmful chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, PVC or polycarbonate. So, nothing can leach into what you’re slathering all over your skin from a glass bottle.
  3. When glass is recycled it gets turned into more glass, meaning it can be recycled over and over and never lose its integrity. Plastic, on the other hand, is downcycled and turned into something such as plastic lumber or carpet padding. It loses integrity with each use, and thus isn’t truly recyclable.
  4. The recycling issue aside, you are more likely to reuse your glass containers, bottles and jars over and over and over again, and in creative ways.

Buying glass face cream jars instead of plastic is another of the easiest sustainable skincare swaps. These can be used to hold beauty items such as hair pins, elastics, or makeup brushes, for example. Alternatively, use smaller jars for tea candles or even as small vases. And if you don’t love the look of your jars, why not give them a coat of metallic paint?

Image credit here.

3. Switch to vegan products 

Here’s a statistic that may alarm you. According to Cruelty Free International, over 115 million animals are being tortured for animal testing each year globally. That’s so hideous on so many levels, I can’t even. In fact, I shall say no more, except this: not only are animals tortured in ‘safety’ tests, but they are often killed for the ‘benefits’ they bring to your cosmetic routine. I’m talking about products like collagen, keratin, and even oils from the glands of deer and other unspeakably cruel extracts.

Going vegan with your skincare is one of the kindest sustainable skincare swaps you can make. It promises to save animal lives by reducing demand for animal products and those that are cruelly and senselessly tested on animals.

Eco friendly skincare swap to try:

Sunday Riley shows how effective vegan skincare can be with her Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil. This powerful blend of oils nourishes and restores dehydrated skin by rehydrating the skin’s natural moisture barrier. It features a rich blend of organic, cold-pressed, antioxidant-rich, superfood seed oils. It’s never tested on animals, and of course, is 100% plant based. And did I mention: effective as all heck?

Sustainable Skincare Swaps

4. Switch to reusable makeup pads 

Regular makeup removal pads and wipes are part of the bigger waste problem. They’re only used once, and are often made from polyester mixed with cotton. What that means is, due to the polyester, they don’t biodegrade quickly. And of course, we all know that cotton takes loads of water, is often GMO and sprayed with tons of pesticides. Which, of course, end up on your skin!

The solution? Switch to reusable makeup pads, or just use a washable face cloth to clean your face every morning and evening. In fact, since makeup removal pads cause such a lot of non-biodegradable waste, this is one of the best sustainable skincare swaps you can make.

Eco friendly skincare swap to try:

We’d suggest makeup artist-approved Face Halo makeup remover pads. Dual-sided and reusable, the gentle face pad is made up of fibres 100 times finer than human hair to ensure a deep, thorough clean that only uses water. Plus, these can be used up to 500 times before they wear out!

Sustainable Skincare Swaps

5. Donate what you hate

We’ve all done it: bought skincare products that we thought we’d love, but in reality, we never use. That could be because we’ve developed an allergy, don’t like the smell, or just find they don’t work the way we’d hoped.

But the truth is: one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure! So instead of throwing such items out, why not donate, swap or sell them? It really is about waste not, want not, right? And yes, skincare is included! 

Toiletries Amnesty donates unwanted beauty items to women’s shelters and those in need. It’s the perfect place for feeling good about cleaning out your beauty bag. Alternatively, r/MakeupExchange is a subreddit that allows you to swap beauty products with others. You simply list what you have to swap or sell, and can include what you are interested in receiving in exchange, and wait for people to reach out to you. You can also be proactive by contacting people who have products you want and offer to trade directly.

But if you’ve dropped a load of cash and would like a bit of return on your donation, consider Glambot. This is a company that will buy your unloved or unused products, sanitise them, and then sell them for you. The policies are fairly strict to ensure customer safety—items must be at least three months away from the expiration date with at least half of the product remaining and the packaging in presentable condition. There are also some categories, such as skincare and mascara, that are only accepted from beauty industry professionals.

Check their website for a growing list of accepted brands, as well as the full selling policy. You must send in a package of 15 full-size items, so this is probably a more viable option after a big makeup and skincare collection clear out. You can choose to be paid in Glambucks instead of cash, which can then be traded for secondhand items listed on the site.

Don’t you love it when sustainable skincare swaps can also earn you cash?

nars makeup

6. Switch to zero waste or sub-zero waste products

Zero waste or sub-zero waste products continue to be grasping the beauty and cosmetic industry by storm. These are beauty products with minimal, recycled or recyclable packaging, and/or refillable compacts or bottles. 

Then there are sub-zero waste products, because there is always room for improvement, right? These brands are dedicated to offsetting the harm a product can do with an equal measure of good. For example? Grums, a Danish brand, actually upcycles ingredients that would normally go to waste, such as coffee grounds, to create their products.  

Eco friendly skincare swap to try:

Vegan and fully organic, Zao is a beauty brand you can trust! They offer a refill system that allows users to purchase cosmetics that you just pop into the original tube, compact, or jar, which means you’re saving not only on the energy used to create new packaging, but the packaging materials themselves. And did I mention that Zao’s makeup is housed in sustainably harvested bamboo, making it both stylish and durable?

zao organics

Do you know of any other sustainable skincare swaps to save the planet that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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