I believe I am finally ready to talk about one of the toughest topics in sustainable living…skincare. This is a tough topic not only because everyone is different and has a different skincare routine, but because it took me months to reconfigure and nail down my own low-waste routine. I am going to walk you through what I use and what products I have come to really love and recommend. I posted links to these products at the end of this post!
I have pretty oily skin, so I wash my face both in the morning and evening. Not everyone does this, which is great if you can avoid it, unlike me. In order to establish a routine, I basically took my old routine and replaced items with better options as I used them up. Before I started this journey, I washed my face in the morning with a cleanser (Clean and Clear), used an eye cream (Clinique) and daily moisturizer that had SPF built into it (Aveeno). In the evenings, I washed my face with an acne cleanser (Clean and Clear) and used a spot treatment for acne when necessary (Rodan & Fields or Epiduo forte). I used Men’s Dove deodorant sticks, Dove body wash in the shower, and Aveeno body lotion when needed, which was usually on my hands. I also used Blistex lip balm, which had SPF as well.
My new routine is similar, but with no plastic and all vegan products. In the morning, I first wash my face with a bar of dove soap. I then use a Pacifica vegan collagen eye cream around my eyes; I started using eye creams because my skin gets really dry and irritated there. This eye cream comes in a little glass jar, which I can either recycle or reuse for something. I personally think it would make a great travel container for vitamins, or a container I can keep in my purse with a few ibuprofen or something. Next, I put a little Retinol A around my eyes and forehead. I use this for anti-aging/wrinkles, and it comes in a glass container. I honestly don’t feel that this is completely necessary, but I have had this bottle for a long time now so I just keep using it rather than dumping it. Next, I moisturize my face with my Ethique face balm. This is a little tricky because I rub it on my cheeks, one swipe across my chin and one across my forehead, then use my fingers to rub it around and into my skin. It’s a different feel from a more lotion-style moisturizer, but you get used to it pretty quickly. This comes in compostable cardboard packaging, so once it is empty, I can just throw the tube in our compost bin in the backyard.
Now, I say my routine is low waste because it is still not perfectly zero-waste. As a vegan, I am even more limited on products besides their packaging; I am choosing to only use products that are ethically sourced, made, and do not contain any animal products or have any history of animal testing. The reason my routine is not perfectly zero-waste is because of one challenging thing to find: a sunscreen that is both vegan AND zero-waste. Every sunscreen that I have found that comes in zero-waste packaging contains an ingredient that is not vegan, like beeswax, for example. So, I had to make a tough decision and chose a vegan daily sunscreen that comes in plastic packaging. I figured that I prefer my products be vegan and cruelty-free, and that if I have one or two pieces of plastic every few months go into my recycling bin, I am still making a huge difference for the planet, while avoiding any animal cruelty in the process. I chose Pacifica brand, which I really love, and I do intend to keep the plastic spray bottle after I empty it and use it for packing liquids for travel. Hopefully by then I will have a better option available to purchase. I am also keeping this plastic bottle from going to waste faster by only putting sunscreen on my face on the weekends in the wintertime. I currently go to work and drive home in the dark, or mostly dark, so I really only am out in the daylight on the weekends anyway, which stretches my bottle of sunscreen a lot further. (As a side note, I also know that in the images below there is a small plastic toothbrush- I use that to clean my retainers and have had it for a long time. It will be replaced eventually but I am trying to keep it going so it does not become trash, which is another example of my life being close but not completely zero-waste. I’ll write about oral care in a separate post!)
At night, I simply wash everything off my face with an acne soap bar. I use the Yes To Tomatoes bar and I absolutely love it. It works as a good baseline preventative for my lovely adult acne, and it’s vegan and smells great. It is also massive; I have been using my bar for about 5 months now, and it is not anywhere near halfway gone yet. With acne soap, a little goes a long way so this is actually significantly cheaper than what I was spending on acne soaps in the past. An acne spot treatment for breakouts has been the toughest part of this transition for me. Everything that has ever worked for me is not vegan or zero waste, so I had to really hunt for something. The best option I have found is by Fat and the Moon, called Pimple Mud. It comes in a glass jar and can be used as a spot treatment or as a full mask, and it works well for me. This company is really cute too, and definitely plan to purchase from them again.
Aside from my face, I just use bars of soap to wash my body. I like Dove soap bars because they make my skin nice and soft, they aren’t too expensive, they’re a cruelty free company, and you can buy individual bars in little cardboard packages. I use Ethique deodorant and lip balms, which come in the same style compostable push-up packaging as the moisturizer. The lip balms are pricey compared to what you would spend on a tube of Blistex or Chapstick, but I have found that they last significantly longer, and I don’t have to apply it nearly as much as I was applying my old lip balms. I have also started ordering their lotion concentrates to make my own bottles of lotion at home. The concentrates just have to be mixed into hot water and all of the packaging can be composted. I have an old soap pump that I used to use for hand soap that is now full of my lotion I made a few weekends ago.
Okay- last but not least- makeup!
I don’t wear daily makeup; in fact, I only wear it for special occasions or if I feel like dressing up a little. Makeup is a huge waste producer and results in a lot of plastic going to landfill. I had to ditch a ton of my makeup this year and decided that I was only going to replace it if I could find a sustainable alternative. That is when I discovered this company called Trestique. They sell refillable makeup applicators that are easy to use and replace. Once you empty an applicator, you order a refill, and when you refill your applicator, you send the refill packaging back to them to reuse. As long as you don’t break your applicators, it is a truly zero-waste system. They have everything you need to do a full face of makeup, and everything is so easy to use. I ordered a mascara, eyeliner, a few eyeshadow crayons, a foundation, a lipstick, and a concealer from them a few weeks ago, and I absolutely love them. They are not very expensive, and they came in a cute makeup bag that was made from a plastic water bottle. The foundation, concealer and eyeshadow go on so smoothly and they lasted all day on my face without any need for a primer. It took me about 5 minutes to do an entire makeup routine on my face, and for someone who doesn’t really wear any makeup, I felt like a professional and loved the way I looked. My face didn’t break out afterwards, and my micellar water makeup remover was enough to get it all off my face easily at the end of the day. The other thing I like about it is that it takes out the guesswork of having too many options. I have three natural eyeshadow colors I can blend, and that is really all I need and there is no pressure of having a ton of colors to choose from. My minimalist side loves this so much, because inside my little makeup bag is everything I could ever need, and I have nothing else outside of this bag. They also have sustainable packaging; the cardboard boxes the items come in are made from recycled materials and printed with soy ink, so I can have no hesitations or worries about composting these boxes. I can’t say enough good things about this and have been recommending them to everyone I can because this is just such an incredible program.
Well, there you have it! After months of experiments, I have figured out what skincare and makeup products work for me that align with my values. I definitely recommend checking out Trestique for makeup and Ethique for soaps, lotions, deodorant, shampoos, etc. I included a bunch of photos below!
Also, I am now not only trying to be an activist for the environment on Instagram, but I made a twitter account to post live updates on my journey! Follow me at Lesliegunn25 😊
*Pacifica and Yes to Tomatoes brands are available to buy at Target or online- I prefer to buy them in-store to save the shipping emissions! You can also find Ethique products at Mom’s Organic Market stores.