The Best Eco-Friendly Beauty Products That Don’t Cost The Earth

From refillable products to face wipe alternatives, here’s how to make your beauty routine more planet-friendly

best eco-friendly beauty

by Grazia Contributor |

We'd like to think that we're pretty conscious of trying to reduce our daily environmental footprint and actively trying to live sustainably and yet, although we might be making small daily changes to our everyday routine to become more eco-friendly and buy sustainable products, according to Zero Waste Week, the beauty industry was responsible for producing more than 120 billion units of packaging (which were mostly non-recyclable) last year. If we want to create real change, therefore, we need make effort to buy into those brands that are producing beauty products sustainably and moreover making real efforts to affect change for our planet.

Unfortunately, it's often the case that products marketed with 'eco-friendly', 'organic' or 'sustainable' labels often come with a luxury premium. Shopping sustainably should be an option for every consumer— not just those with a higher income.

The Big Beauty Initiatives

Thankfully, high street beauty brands are listening and starting to deliver earth-friendly options that don't break the bank. Take L'Oréal and Maybelline for example. L'Oréal commissioned a whole load of researching that shockingly found that 32.8 million Brist still can't get on board with recycling bathroom products. Furthermore 1 in 10 Brits seem to think that very little bathroom related rubbish is recyclable and 74% admit that they would opt for a product that they think worked better over one that was more sustainable. It's this concept of choosing between sustainability and efficacy that causes issues when it comes to beauty products. Luckily when it comes to L'Oréal and Maybelline buys we won't have to for much longer. L'Oréal Paris Elvive have made so many changes to the packaging of their shampoo and conditioner bottes that a huge 900 tones of plastic looks set to be saved annually in the UK - according to L'Oréal that's the same weight as 50 double decker buses, just to put it into context. The bottles have always been recyclable, but now they're set to be made from 100% recycled plastic, and as L'Oréal Paris Elvive is the number one shampoo and conditioner brand in the UK, this actions have a serious impact.

L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Shampoo and Conditioner
©L'Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Shampoo and Conditioner

Likewise Maybelline too have just launched the UK's biggest ever make-up recycling sheme across supermarkets and stores nationwide. They have teamed up with TerraCycle to introduce recycling bins to over 1000 Tesco, Superdrug, Boots and Sainsbury's stores across the UK - the intention? That regular supermarket, Superdrug and Boots customers like you and I can drop off our bathroom cabinet and make-up bag empties (of any brand at all) whenever we schedule in a shop. Genius. Keen to find your nearest recycling bin?Click here. And as for what you can recycle, via these bins, here's your detailed guide:

DO Recycle In The Maybelline Recycling Bins

    • Compacts and palettes such as eyeshadows, powders and blushers.
  • Compacts and palettes such as eyeshadows, powders and blushers.

    • Mascaras including the plastic tube and wand.
  • Mascaras including the plastic tube and wand.

    • Eyelinerssuch as retractable plastic liners and liquid liners.
  • Eyelinerssuch as retractable plastic liners and liquid liners.

    • Lip products such as plastic lip gloss tubes or bullet lipstick tubes.
  • Lip products such as plastic lip gloss tubes or bullet lipstick tubes.

    • Plstic tubes and bottles such as foundation or concealer tubes.
  • Plstic tubes and bottles such as foundation or concealer tubes.

    • Other make-up packaging such as caps, pumps or trigger sprays.
  • Other make-up packaging such as caps, pumps or trigger sprays.

DON'T Recycle In The Maybelline Recycling Bins

  • Glass bottles and cardboard packaging - these can go straight into the paper and glass recycling bins that will most likely be at your supermarket too.
  • Make-up brushes or nail polish.
  • Aeorosols (but in most parts of the UK aerosol recycling is possible).

Though it's important to recycle and to make the most of incredible schemes like this, we also have a responsibility to shop sustainably and that's not always as simple as going plastic-free, so here are five easy ways that you can do it.

Look for packaging that's both recyclable, and recycled

According to forecasting agency The Future Laboratory, an estimated 90.5 per cent of the plastic waste we produce has never been recycled so, of course, shopping for fully recyclable products is a step in the right direction. But if this packaging is being produced again and again, that's not very sustainable either. Look for brands like the below, which not only use recyclable packaging, but recycled materials too.

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Packaging that's both recyclable and recycled

Cosmydor R/1 Handcrafted Soap - Olive Oil & Ylang-ylang, £11
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Soaper Duper Nourishing Coconut Body Wash £6.50
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Botanics Organic Restoring Overnight Facial Oil, £11.49
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Love Beauty & Planet Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Shampoo £7.49
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Find face wipe alternatives

There's no two ways about it— single use face wipes and sheet masks are not good for the environment. An estimated 11 billion face wipes are making their way into landfill and our waterways every single year. And because they're made from plastic-fibres, they won't break down naturally. Change is afoot however with Holland & Barrett stopping its sale of wipes altogether. Brands are listening too, launching with compostable options that you can pop in your food waste bin. Even better, ditch the wipe completely...

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Face wipe and sheet mask alternatives

Face Halo Makeup Remover Pad £7.50
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Ditch the wipes all together in favour of a microfibre Face Halo. The clever cloths remove all traces of makeup, using just water alone. Plus, they can be re-used up to 500 times.

Nivea Biodegradable Cleansing Wipes, £3.29
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The Body Shop Drops of Youth Youth Concentrate Sheet Mask, £5
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The Beauty Kitchen, Abyssinian Oil Cleansing Konjac Sponge, £7
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Refillables — what's the deal?

There's been a lot of talk recently about refillable beauty options — but is this really a viable answer? Buying a refill, rather than a completely new product, can save up to 70% on CO2, 65% on energy and 45% on water according to research carried out by The LCA Centre. The problem, however, lies with the fact that refillables rely on a massive behavioural shift from the customer, which can take time. Refill options are also often offered on luxury products, where the customer can save money on re-purchasing expensive packaging, rather than simple and effective re-fill options for our every day essentials. However, there are affordable options being put in place, so if you're ready to re-fill, here are your best options.

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Floral Street London Poppy Eau de Parfum, £58
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Floral Street London Poppy Eau de Parfum, £58

Not only are Floral Street's beautiful fragrances vegan and cruelty free, the packaging is recyclable, reusable, compostable and now refillable in the Covent Garden store.

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Can't recycle it? Origins can!

Recycling beauty products can be tricky. Cosmetics are often packaged in containers that are comprised of mixed materials (a plastic pump, a metal spring, a glass bottle, etc) and while the different components may all be technically recyclable it is often cheaper and easier to throw them in the landfill than separate and recycle. Brands like LUSH and The Body Shop offer recycling schemes, where you can return empties in order to get money off new purchases. However, it's Origins on-counter recycling scheme 'Return to Origins', which really makes things easy. Origins will accept any product empties — from any beauty brand — and recycle the packaging on your behalf. Since 2010, the programme has recycled over 1.2 tonnes of beauty empties… and it's just getting started.

Zero-Waste beauty is the future

Of course, when it comes to tacking the problem of packaging, zero-waste is where it's at. Ethique, the world's first completely zero-waste beauty brand uses only 100 per cent sustainably sourced, vegan, paraben and sulphate-free ingredients. It also donates 20 per cent of profits to environmental charities and is completely palm-oil free.

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