How To Make Your Beauty Routine Plastic-Free

Life in plastic, is NOT fantastic.

plastic beauty products

by Elizabeth Bennett and Emma Stoddart |

As fans of Blue Planet II ]( Seven Worlds One Planet, know all too well, the plastic problem in our oceans is nothing short of catastrophic. There are endless shocking statistics we could recall about [the levels of pollution in our oceans and the damage it’s doing to ecosystems and wildlife. To give you an idea, Greenpeace estimated that 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. To put it into perspective that’s a truck load of rubbish a minute. Yep, every single minute. And considering most plastics take up to 500 years to naturally decompose that rubbish is going nowhere.

While the onus is on governments and big business to make radical change, on a personal level we can also do our bit. If you’re reading this you’ve probably already got a tote bag for your supermarket shop or swapped your takeout coffee for a reusable cup, but there are other ways you can cut your plastic usage, especially when it comes to your beauty routine.

How Does Your Beauty Routine Impact The Environment?

In the UK, the average household uses 216 plastic haircare bottles a YEAR - and one in ten say they 'can't be bothered' to be more eco-friendly. A study by new beauty tech company, Réduit surveyed 2,000 Brits and found that only 60% of this plastic waste is recycled with the rest ending up in landfill.

The aforementioned study also found that UK households will go through 24 bottles of shower gel, 24 tubes of toothpaste, 12 bottles of moisturiser and 108 loo rolls each year. A lot of which, is not recycled. Why? According to the research, lots of us are unsure on how to recycle our beauty products and become more eco-friendly with our routines. 'Our study has shown how people will mindlessly use and bin plastic products, and not think about how they could make small switches which have a huge impact,' says Paul Peros, CEO of RÉDUIT. 'It can seem quite daunting at first – trying something new – but there’s lots of ways you can make more sustainable changes with your hair and beauty regime.'

How To Become More Eco-Friendly With Your Beauty Routine

One way to have zero waste skincare will be to do your shopping on Loop – a circular economy online platform that launched in the US earlier this year by recycling company, TerraCycle. The idea is simple – order your items from which will arrive in a reusable tote bag. Once you’ve finished the products pop the packaging back inside the tote and Loop will arrange free collection. These reusable bottles are then hygienically cleaned and replenished with product. Basically it's your beauty milk man. And, so far, lots of big companies have signed up including REN, The Body Shop, Unilever, Pantene and Love, Beauty And Planet. However, it will not be launching in the UK until later this year so watch this space.

Other retailers, including Boots and John Lewis have also launched recycling initiatives. 'Beauty Cycle' is a recycling scheme rolled out in 36 John Lewis stores across the UK, whereby customers are rewarded for bringing back empty containers. For every five items brought in to store, customers will receive a £5 gift voucher to spend in the beauty hall - which definitely wouldn't go amiss at this time of year. The initiative is predicted to save four tonnes of plastic packaging from going to landfill each year.

Instafamous LA-based skincare brand, Summer Fridays, are also getting involved with a zero waste skincare initiative. Simply collect your empties, email to get your free mailing label and send back five empty bottles. In return, Summer Fridays will send you a free mini Jet Lag mask - which, if you've tried, you'll know is worth getting involved for.

Embarking on a completely zero-waste beauty routine may be an impossible feat (and inevitably setting yourself up for a failure) but choosing to make some small and easy changes is a positive step . After all, the biggest influence we have is choosing where and how to spend our money. Get started with one of the below…


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Where possible look for refillable beauty options where you can buy a large bag of the product like L'Occitane's decadent Almond Shower Gel and refill your original purchase bottle. REN Skincare also offer reusable glass bottles that can be refilled via Loop.

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Probably the easiest switch you can make is avoiding using products housed in plastic and instead choose packaging that can be recycled or reused such as glass. Brands like Aesop, Tata Harper and Kjaer Weis are great go-tos when it comes to nailing both shelfie-worthy packaging and eco-credentials. Whereas on the more affordable end of the spectrum, Beauty Kitchen, uses solely pre-cycled, recycled or recyclable packaging.

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If you have the space, buying in bulk will save you money and reduce your packaging output. Dr Bronner's soap (for face, body and hair) has a cult following for a reason, and is available in up to 5 litre recycled plastic bottles. Simply decant into smaller glass bottles to store in your shower or take travelling.

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Alternatively, forgo packaging altogether and buy soap bars and solid shampoo. Lush is pioneering this zero-waste, 'naked' style packaging but it's also worth looking at East London based social enterprise, The Soap Co, or handmade soap companies found at local produce markets.

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Standard face wipes and cotton pads are not biodegradable and cause huge problems in landfill and our oceans. Instead you can remove makeup using your normal cleanser and either a flannel or an eco-friendly konjac sponge. If you can't give up the cotton pads you can also buy reusable ones that you pop in the washing machine instead of chucking in the bin.

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Believe it or not those cheap plastic razors you throw away every few weeks are not great for the planet. You're much better off investing in a safety razor. Not only will it save you money in the long term, it will also look much more aesthetically pleasing on your bathroom shelf. Called a safety razor for reason, they are foolproof to use and should last you a lifetime.

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It's a similar story when it comes to plastic toothbrushes, or those throw-away electric toothbrush heads. Pearl Bar have come up with an environmentally-friendly alternative, a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush that will decompose within six months. With bristles infused with charcoal it will also ensure your teeth are sparkling white.

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Who said eco-beauty was boring? For all those festival and fancy-dress needs, London-based Disco Dust have created entirely biodegradable glitter.

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

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