Here’s how you can create a less wasteful beauty routine in 2023

4 simple steps is all it takes.

Harper's Bazaar India

In the last decade, the spotlight on sustainability has been its brightest ever—at least in theory. The practical aspect of it, however, is easier said than done. And I say this while staring at the abyss that is my vanity dresser (let’s not get started on the bathroom shelf). There’s no denying that it’s pretty easy to get swayed into the beauty currents—trending ingredients, products launching dime a dozen, innovative formulations, and of course, Insta-worthy gimmicks that get all the gears going. In this race for ‘beauty’, we often oversee the collateral damage that’s taking place.

Climate change is real and one of the biggest contributors to it is the cosmetic and beauty industry. The single-use plastic in packaging and containers, harmful chemicals and microplastics in the formulation plays a huge role in adversely impacting the environment. In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that containers from personal care and cosmetic items comprised approximately 82.2 million tonnes of solid municipal weight waste generation. Shocking right? Self-care might be working well for your skin, but not so much for the environment.  

For those wrapped up in full-time jobs, it may be a little hard to give up on the commercial lifestyle, but sustainability is more about the baby steps you take towards the approach. It may be small, but it does have an impact on the carbon footprint you leave behind—especially when taking into account your beauty routine. Here’s an easy guide on the various day-to-day things you can incorporate in your regime that’ll push you towards a less wasteful direction.

Mind Your Mindset

The first step towards a more conservative approach towards your beauty routine is to tweak your mindset. You don’t have to buy anything and everything you see trending. It’s simple: if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Social media and marketing do a good job when it comes to convincing and influencing, so it’s imperative that you be mindful about what you're purchasing. Streamline your routine—stick to the basics and don’t invest in anything that’s too extravagant for your skin, hair, or body to handle. Remember, less is more.

Go Plastic-Free Or Reuse Packaging

Beauty brands actually produce a whopping 77 billion units of plastic packaging per year! According to a study done by the World Economic Forum, by 2050 there is a possibility of there being more plastic than fish. Opting for plastic-free products creates less waste—you can go for paper or glass-packaged products that can be recycled easily. In an ideal world, it’s kind of difficult to skip the plastic entirely, and that’s when you need to become more mindful of the brands you are using. 

Zero-waste brands like Juicy Chemistry, L’Occitane, and The Body Shop, amongst a few, help recycle and reuse empties to avoid and reduce plastic pollution. E-commerce platforms such as Sublime Life also take in empties in exchange for points.

Another way you can be less wasteful is to choose an eco-friendly option of using refillable packaging. Brands like Kiehl’s, Ouai, Faith & Patience, L’Occitane and Plum Beauty offer refillable packages—in short, the refills prevent you from constantly tossing out used packaging into the trash. Even when it comes to makeup, ASA Beauty, Diego Dalla Palma, and Tinge Beauty also allow you to refill empty pans, bullets, and tubes, with your most-used makeup products.

Multipurpose Over Single-Use

Try and incorporate multipurpose products into your routine, as much as you can. Downsize your make-up routine to fit in dual-purpose products that kill two or more birds with one stone. Keep away from anything that’s single-use––this includes makeup wipes, exfoliation pads, cotton swabs, and those dreaded non-biodegradable sheet masks. Use a make-up removal oil, balm, or a towel instead. 

Read the label

Do a little homework and dive into the fine print behind your products! Look for ingredients that are naturally sourced with minimal environmental impact. Bonus: It works well for the skin, hair, or wherever you apply the products to. Plus, when the natural ingredients are ethically sourced, it doesn’t cause scarcity or damage the environment it's grown in. While you can’t go ‘chemical-free’ completely, it’s best to steer clear of harsh chemicals and ingredients such as microbeads—just find a safer alternative that works for your skin and the environment too!