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Tips to easily change to a zero-waste beauty routine

Nobody doubts the benefits of cleansing the skin and keeping a correct skincare routine. However, what is so beneficial for our skin is very harmful to the environment. What can we do then? Shall we stop our skincare routine? Obviously no. The answer is to move to a zero-waste beauty routine, a clean skincare routine. In this post, I will tell you some tips to do that easily and in an affordable way.


Impact of the non zero-waste beauty routine on the environment

When we sleep, the amount of blood that reach our cells is higher than when we are awake. That means the cells are getting a higher amount of oxygen which accelerate the tissue regeneration process. That is the reason why our skin regenerates from external factors and damages during sleeping time.

On the other hand, the amount of products needed for our skincare routine is huge. As an example, one person uses an average of 6 cotton pads per day for the skincare routine. That means 42 pads per week, 168 pads per month and more than 2000 pads per year. If we extend that to all the people using cotton pads, the numbers are alarming.

In the world, we dispose of around 12000 million bottles of cosmetics and 9 million tissue sheets in a year. Each person produces an average of 15 kg of residues only for beauty and skincare purposes. That is too much.

Obviously, your change cannot make a huge difference, but if we join efforts, as in the case of cruelty-free cosmetics, we can drastically reduce the amount of residue produced.

Changes for a zero-waste beauty routine

You don’t need to implement all of the changes I am going to mention straight away. You can introduce them one by one if you feel you should and when you realise you will be doing a zero waste skincare routine.

Cotton pads for reusable pads

The easiest step to reduce the residues is to change your cotton pads for reusable pads to eliminate makeup and clean the skin. That reduces the main residue produced.

There are plenty of options available if you want to buy reusable pads. You can find them in different materials, such as microfiber or bamboo fibre at different prices. I love these pads from Real Techniques, they are quite expensive but they do a nice job and resist well the washes.

Real Techniques- 2 Reusable Makeup Remover Pads. Lookfantastic £9.99
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However, if you don’t want or cannot spend money on that, you can make your own from an old towel or T-shirt. You can cut round or square pieces of fabric and sew around the edges. I found those tutorials very easy to follow if you can make round or square reusable makeup remover.

Homemade or bought, this type of pad will last really long, maybe over a year. You just need to rinse them after use to eliminate stubborn dirt and wash them later in the washing machine. You will help the environment and save money at the same time.

Use solid soaps

Another very easy change is to introduce the use of solid soap. That not only applies to face cleansers, but also to body wash and even solid shampoos. I recently introduced solid shampoo to my hair care routine and I am very happy with the change.

As for the body, you can buy solid soap for washing your face. They normally come in cardboard packaging, generating almost no residue. You can get them for almost the same price as a liquid face wash or even less, as this Avene Soap Bar, which costs £3.75 in Lookfantastic.

Avène Cold Cream Ultra Rich Cleansing Bar for Dry, Sensitive Skin. Lookfantastic £5.00
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If you do the double cleansing, you can get affordable cleansing butter which comes without plastic packaging. For example, The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter comes in a metal tin. You can get it for £11 but it will last you for a few months.

Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, 90 mL. The Body Shop £11.00
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Exfoliation in a zero-waste beauty routine

Face exfoliation is another important step in any skincare routine. Exfoliation allows you to eliminate dead cells and get a bright complexion. There are two main types of exfoliations: physical or mechanical and chemical.

Physical exfoliation involves the use of small particles which remove dead cells by friction when massaged on the skin. Instead of using any exfoliating cream for that, you can get the same results using a Konjac Sponge. This type of sponges are natural and, therefore, biodegradable and produce a similar effect to particles while lasting for a few months.

So Eco Natural Lava Pumice. Lookfantastic £4.00
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If you prefer chemical exfoliation you can opt for buying the products in glass packaging. The Ordinary is a good brand for that. They sell different acids, therefore, different exfoliation strength products and all of them come in a glass dropper bottle, minimising the amount of plastic residue.

Zero-waste face masks

As I mentioned, the amount of tissues generated is huge, around 9 million per year. The majority of this tissue comes from disposable single-use sheet masks. I love the face masks as they allow you to get a quick effect on your skin when you need them.

However, instead of using a single-use sheet mask, you can apply a mask that you can rinse after some time. Considering long term use and economy, this type of mask is also cheaper. You can choose from a variety of promised effects and ingredients, such as clay, charcoal, collagen, vitamins and more. A single pot can last you for a few months of use, as you normally apply once or twice a week, while each sheet mask is for a single application and costs a minimum of £2.

grüum älska Pink Clay Face Mask 50ml. Lookfantastic £8.00
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Other products

For the rest of the products used in any routine, like moisturisers, serum, toner, etc, the best option is to buy them in a glass or metal pot. They may have a plastic lid most probably and you will generate some amount of residue. However, it should be so much less if you buy the product in plastic packaging.

We need to keep in mind that our lifestyle complicates a lot of the complete elimination of plastic. Nowadays plastic is everywhere and, unfortunately, most of the time products coming in glass or metal packaging or refillable bottle are more expensive than the products coming in plastic packaging. Not everyone can afford to buy zero waste skincare products and that is something completely understandable.

Other times, I include myself in this group, there are certain cosmetics you love that come in plastic packaging. For example, I love Holika Holika Green Tea Face Wash and it comes in a plastic tube. I am not going to stop buying it, I really love it and it is one of the best cleansers I have tried so far.

Whatever the reason you have for buying a product in plastic packaging, you should recycle them when empty. Some packaging can be directly binned in the normal plastic recycling bin, such as shampoo, shower gel, conditioners, moisturisers, etc. You should read the label to see how the pack can be recycled.


Other products, however, come in packaging that cannot be recycled in the general recycling bin. This is the case of nail polish, lipsticks, makeup brushes, some makeup packaging, toothbrushes among others. What can you do with the packaging of these products then?

Programs to recycle beauty packaging

There are some programs focused on recycling cosmetics packaging. One of the most important programs in the UK is the Superdrugs x Maybelline with Terracycle program. Superdrugs, the popular British drugstore, has installed in most of their shop’s recycling bins where you can add makeup and skincare products packaging from any brand product. It is free and the products you can recycle are:

  • Foundation bottles, concealer tubes, powders and blushers
  • Mascaras, mascara brushes, eyeliner and eyeshadow palettes
  • Lipsticks, glosses and balms
  • Other packaging – caps, pumps and sprays

They encourage you to clean the packaging as much as you can to make the recycling process easier.

You can read more about this project on the Terracycle website.

What do you think about zero-waste skincare? Do you recycle your packaging? Let me know in the comments.

Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

I love beauty and skincare, try new products, and share my opinion with you. All my knowledge comes from years of experience and reading articles. I have dry skin, Fitzpatrick type IV, warm undertone, and my main concern is hyperpigmentation. Keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you. We are all different and products can have different results on your skin. Want to talk? Email me at contact@irenebeautyandmore.com

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