10 simple & cost-effective ways to make your beauty routine more sustainable
Looking to curate a sustainable beauty routine or green-ify your beauty bag? Let these 10 steps be your guide towards an eco- and budget-friendly ritual.

Plastic-free July is in full swing (have you checked out our Insta challenge?!) and we’re currently in the process of green-ifying every aspect of our lives — rethinking shopping habits, opting for a plastic-free pantry, DIY-ing cleaning products and upcycling household objects. And given our obsession with skincare, we thought we’d turn our attention to cleaning up our beauty habits.

The beauty industry is currently a US$532 billion business, set to exceed $800 billion by 2025. And between packaging, production, wastage and certain unethical ingredients (we’re looking at you, palm oil), the industry is notorious for its negative ecological impact.

With growing concerns around climate change and consumer awareness, sustainability has solidified its place at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But how can we, as consumers, ensure that our daily routines are both environmentally and economically sustainable?

Well, there’s more than just one way to approach sustainable beauty with an eco focus. Consider this your 10-step guide to a sustainable beauty routine; minimising your environmental impact and maximising your budget and beauty goals.

Streamline your skincare routine

When it comes to skincare, less is always more. A carefully curated daily routine is not only more effective in treating your skin concerns but will also save you from splurging unnecessarily on expensive serums and oils. Ditch the 10-step mindset, and invest in a good cleanser, exfoliator, moisturiser and SPF. You can then add on an active serum or peel to target specific issues (think pigmentation and uneven texture), but don’t fall into the trap of dropping $150 on a serum that went viral after a celeb raved about it on Instagram. Chances are, a hard-working $20 product from brands like The Inkey List, The Ordinary or Ingredients (the new kid on the natural beauty block) will be just as effective.


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Repurpose products that don’t work for your face

Scenario: you’ve just splurged on a new facial oil that promised flawless, youthful skin — but instead of a rejuvenated, fresh-faced you, the result is a breakout and blotchy complexion. The solution? Repurpose your face products for your body. Cleansers that are too harsh on your face can be used on the rest of your body; oils are perfect for nourishing your cuticles; moisturisers will work wonders on dry, scaly patches in less sensitive areas. There’s a solution for almost every product.

Invest in natural, sustainable beauty

Clean beauty is one of the industry’s hottest and most debated topics right now — mainly because there are no definitive guidelines to label a product or brand as “clean” and not all preservatives are bad for your skin. Ideally, you want your makeup, skin and hair care products to have as minimal negative impact on your skin and the environment as possible. This means reaching for products that are certified vegan, palm-oil free and made with ethically-sourced ingredients. I’ve nailed the eco-beauty routine guidelines using Indie Lee’s Brightening Cleanser; Youth To The People’s Superfood Frim & Brightening Serum and Superfood Moisturiser; Sabbia Co.’s Antioxidant Repair Oil and Mineral BB Cream; and finish the look with Kosas’ The Big Clean Mascara — chef’s kiss.


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DIY products & cleansers

I’m not going to force you to slather an oatmeal and yoghurt concoction on your face, but hear me out. You can save yourself some money by DIY-ing a few elements of your beauty ritual. Try mixing epsom salts with your go-to essential oil for a relaxing bath soak or creating your own lip scrub using brown sugar, honey and coconut oil. As far as cleaning your makeup brushes goes, forget store-bought cleanser and instead try a mixture of castile soap (you can find this at your local bulk food store — it also doubles as a great base for DIY body wash!) and water. This simple makeup brush cleaner recipe is one of my favourites, and perfect if you, like me, have a bottle of witch hazel (a ghost of skincare trends past) at the back of your bathroom vanity.

Upcycle empty glass jars & containers

Upcycling is the perfect way to put your household empties to good use — and keep your beauty cabinet neat and #shelfie ready. Use your empty honey jars as makeup brush holders; convert perfume bottles into an oil diffuser; clean out a candle and use it as a vase; keep your bobby pins safe in an empty lipstick bullet. The opportunities for upcycling are endless. All it takes is a touch of creativity.

Try reusable tools and essentials

With a reusable alternative to almost every beauty and hygiene essential, it’s time to leave single-use tools such as makeup pads, cotton buds, wipes, and plastic razors behind. Opt for bamboo or cotton rounds to take your makeup off at the end of the day — I use my Sabbia Co. Face Kit religiously (just don’t forget to wash your tools regularly!). Switching your plastic razor for a safety razor is as economical as it is environmentally friendly (you can recycle the blades) and there are even reusable personal hygiene products that will save you money and the hassle of having to repurchase every month.

Go zero-waste

Beyond natural ingredients and recycled packaging, zero-waste products offer a sustainable beauty alternative to help shrink your eco-footprint. This includes handmade soaps, shampoo bars, refillable products, glass jars that you can upcycle and compostable cardboard containers. Plenty of indie beauty sellers such as Dirty Hippy Cosmetics, Ethique and Fat & The Moon offer totally plastic-free products and packaging — plus they’re made in small batches to prevent excess wastage. Even global brands like Lush have opted for “naked” packaging in an attempt to reduce their environmental impact and streamline your beauty essentials.

Recycle in-store

In response to eco-awareness, so many brands are, quite literally, cleaning up their act when it comes to sustainability. Major brands including Kiehl’s, The Body Shop and Jurlique offer an in-store program through TerraCycle to collect and recycle hard-to-recycle materials. These brands are also offering incentives for utilising their TerraCycle partnership, so not only will you be doing your part for the environment but also walking away with a discounted or free product.

Opt for reef-safe SPF

You know it’s essential to be slip, slop, slappin’ on that SPF everyday (even in the middle of winter, y’all), but did you know that some sunscreens are actually damaging to marine environments? Research has shown that upwards of 4,000 tonnes of sunscreen enters reef areas around the world each year. While no sunscreen is proven to be 100 per cent “reef-safe”, opting for water-resistant, organic and oxybenzone-free sunscreens are the most sustainable way to protect your skin and our marine world.


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Separate your bathroom waste

You separate your waste and recycling in the kitchen and around the house, so why not do so in the bathroom as well? Level-up your powder room with a compartmentalised waste bin to separate your recyclables from your non-recyclables. So many products are packaged in recyclable bottles and tubs nowadays, so there’s really no excuse. Bonus points for sourcing items in recycled packaging!

Georgia Nelson is a journalist based on the South Coast of NSW and the features writer at WellBeing and WILD. She has a penchant for sustainable beauty, slow fashion and feminist literature. Find her on Instagram @geo_rose.