5 Sustainable Skincare Tips That Are Super Easy to Follow

Learn five simple sustainable skincare tips to benefit your complexion *and* the environment. Fact: There are many facets of “clean” and “green” beauty, with no official authority overseeing the use of such terms. On one hand, they may be interchangeable with natural, organic, and vegan. On the other, they may simply indicate that a product is free of chemicals that can contribute to your body’s toxic load. At any rate, we’re going back to the root (pun alert!) of “green beauty” by focusing on the impact your routine has on the environment. Alas, let’s check out what sustainable beauty entails before delving into our list of sustainable skincare tips. Woman applying lotion in the bathroom from a sustainable, reusable bottle

How to Make Your Skincare Routine More Sustainable

Zero-waste beauty routines—in which nothing gets tossed in the trash—may be the crowning achievement of those who are as passionate about beauty as they are the environment. However, that ideal may be ambitious (read: unattainable) if you’re just starting to think about making your skincare routine more eco-friendly. For that reason, to get your feet—or face, rather—wet in the world of sustainable skincare, read the following tips as inspo to begin your journey.

1. Use What You Buy

To ease into our list of sustainable skincare tips, this step should be clear and simple enough. After all, amassing a small army of beauty products that collect dust and/or eventually expire doesn’t only get tough on the environment, but also your wallet. To be a more conscious consumer, take a minimalist approach to your beauty hauls. Essentially, try to limit your purchases and freebies alike. Take and use only what you need. Tip: If you decide to part with a beauty product you’ve already tried, gift it to a friend. Otherwise, consider donating unused and unexpired products to a local organization.

2. Prioritize Multitasking Skincare Products

As much as some of us (yours truly included) may revel in multi-step skincare routines, this accumulation of products isn’t as pretty for the environment as it may be for our shelfies. Again, no shame here! But if you’d like to boost skin health while using fewer products, it’s certainly possible. In fact, by taking this route, you’ll be in good company. According to a 2021 GlobalWebIndex report, 43 percent of women in the US/UK simplified their skincare and beauty routines over the past year. Meanwhile, 34 percent of men did the same. Tip: To whittle down your haul, look for formulas that incorporate a variety of active ingredients into one single solution. For instance, if you’re looking to hydrate and brighten, consider purchasing a serum with both hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Man wearing sustainable skincare mask that rinses off, instead of a single-use sheet mask

3. Reduce Your Consumption of Single-Use Products

Speaking of multi-step routines, think about all the single-use products we use day in and day out, year after year. Unsurprisingly, that level of waste adds up. (If you’d like, you can think of this sustainability tip as the personal-care equivalent of doing away with plastic straws.) For that reason, you may want to apply this sustainable skincare tip by making small substitutions to go from single-use to endlessly reusable. For instance, you can try to ween off facial wipes in favor of cleansing oils or balms. Tip: Thanks to endless innovation in the personal-care space, you can now find reusable dupes for staples such as:

4. Steer Clear of Unsustainable Ingredients

Moving on, some common skincare ingredients may be bad for both your health and the environment. Take parabens, for instance. They’re a type of preservative often used in cosmetics, as well as a chief clean beauty no-go. First, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirms their “endocrine disruption capacity and documented female and male reproductive harm.” But on top of that, traces of these antimicrobials are now found in dolphins and other marine life, threatening their safety and well-being. Other such harmful ingredients include the likes of: Meanwhile, other ingredients may benefit your complexion but aren’t eco-friendly. For example, there are microbeads in some varieties of physical exfoliators. Once these small plastic particles make it into our waterways, marine life mistake them for food, which complicates the food chain and can lead to toxic buildup. Tip: To clean up your routine and the environment alike, get familiar with skincare ingredients and thoroughly investigate product labels. Woman at spa holding two products with Skincare sustainable packaging in glass

5. Support Brands with Sustainable Initiatives

By this point, you can always make your routine more sustainable by making purchases with eco-consciousness in mind. This may come in the form of supporting beauty and skincare brands that: Tip: Before making your beauty haul, get to know the brands and products on your wish list. Learn more about the brand’s values, initiatives, and product line to see if they actively prioritize sustainability. If you think they could do more on this front, reach out to them and share thoughtful suggestions.

Final Thoughts

While a zero-waste skincare routine is nice ideal, a good creed to follow until you get to that point is progress, not perfection. With that in mind, don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t apply each and every one of these sustainable skincare tips daily. Even turning off the water while washing your face and brushing your teeth is a great starting point. After all, small steps in the right direction will always inch you closer to where you’d like yourself—and the world at large—to be.
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