5 ways to make your beauty routine more eco-conscious this season

19 April 2022
By Nicole Saunders

Give your skincare and make-up routine a green overhaul with these FQ-approved tips for a planet-friendly approach to beauty.

Photography: Belinda Merrie. Styling: Bobby Saunders.

Ditch the single-use wipes

When your double-cleansing routine feels like too much of a rigamarole, reaching for a make-up wipe at the end of a long, hard day feels like a convenient way to remove heavy-duty foundation and mascara. While single-use make-up wipes aren’t doing your complexion any favours, they’re also wreaking havoc on the environment.

Unbeknownst to many beauty enthusiasts, make-up wipes are often made from non-biodegradable synthetic fibres containing microplastics such as polyester, polypropylene, and rayon. 

Fortunately, ditching single-use wipes doesn’t have to throw your usual skincare routine into turmoil. These days there is a plethora of eco-conscious reusable wipes and pads that get the job done without clogging up the wastewater system and landfills.

Mecca-ssentials Reusable Cleansing Face Pads, $27 from MECCA.
Skinsmiths Reusable Cotton Pads, $24 from Caci Clinic.
CaliWoods Reusable Face Rounds, $24.50.
LastObject LastRound reusable face rounds, $21.

Go waterfree

It is no surprise that water is the most common ingredient in a raft of beauty products. But with up to two-thirds of the world’s population experiencing severe water scarcity for at least a month a year, and things only set to worsen due to pollution and increased consumption, now is the time to reconsider our water-laden beauty routines.

According to NATRUE, the non-profit natural and organic cosmetics association, water makes up–on average–60 to 85 per cent of our favourite beauty products. Wonder what’s in that shampoo you use a handful of times each week? Rinse-off products, such as body wash, soap, shampoo and other hair products, are often up to 95 per cent water. “

“Water is commonly used as a cheap filler in most beauty products,” explains Gaelle Thieme, founder of Dust & Glow. Thieme, who founded her waterless beauty company out of the desire to create real change and purpose, says waterless products will become more mainstream in the not-too-distant future. “We all know water is a commodity we take for granted, but when water shortages hit, we realise how essential it is to our daily life.

Aleph Radiance in Star, $53.
Ethique Wonderbar conditioner, $25.
Dust & Glow Powder Based Shampoo, $44.99.
Vapour Beauty Aura Multi Stick Blush, $63. 

Invest in products you’ll use every last drop of

It’s never been easier–or more tempting–to hit ‘add to cart’ to achieve those ‘skin goals’ as soon as the latest hyped-up, Instagrammable skincare product hits shelves. But just like fast fashion has dire consequences where the environment is concerned, so does ‘fast’ or trend-driven beauty. With beauty houses pumping out new products on what seems like a daily basis, the planet is bearing the brunt of our newfound obsession with 15-step-plus beauty regimens.

While most of us are guilty of indulging in a beauty fad or two, falling for the latest make-up or skincare trend week after week is likely to result in shelf loads of unused product rather than a luminous complexion. So, if your make-up bag and bathroom cabinet are bursting at the seams with used-once-or-twice products, now is the time to reduce wastage and whittle down your beauty routine to the products you’ll use every last drop off.

If you’re tired of getting sucked in by the latest promise of eternally youthful skin, it might be time to chat with an expert. Rather than loading you up with an armful of products that might or might not do what’s on the tin, a good skin therapist will help you create a routine that addresses your unique skin concerns.

Susanne Kaufmann Eye Cream Line T, $118.
Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF40, $78.
Dr. Hauschka Soothing Cleansing Milk, $55.
RMS Lip2Cheek Glow Quad, $46.

Opt for minimal packaging and refillable beauty buys

You only have to meander through the beauty counters at your local department store to begin to understand the sheer amount of waste created by the beauty industry. More often than not, when you purchase new make-up or skincare, the bottle or vessel the product lives in is just the tip of the iceberg where packaging is concerned. Alarmingly, according to TerraCycle, the beauty industry produces around 120 billion packaging units each year. There’s boxing, plastic casing, bubble wrap, tissue paper–the list goes on–much of which cannot be recycled and ends up in the landfill.

Fortunately, several beauty houses offer alternatives to excessive packaging through recycling programmes, refillable packaging and plastic substitutes. Homegrown sustainable beauty innovator Emma Lewisham is leading the way locally and internationally with her Beauty Circle initiative: a programme that reduces carbon emissions by offering the refilling and return of empties.

Ethique, the Kiwi-born plastic-free beauty brand with a global following, has recently diversified its offering to include lipstick. But you can forget about glossy, difficult-to-recycle lipstick bullets: Ethique continues to reduce plastic usage with seven shades of highly pigmented lip colour packaged in home-compostable tubes.

Dior Beauty, Lancôme, La Prairie, Hermès, Guerlain, Giorgio Armani, and YSL are just a handful of luxury beauty houses that offer refillable packaging options for some products line. And on the recycling front, Kiehl’s, Dermalogica, Jeuneora, Aleph, and MECCA provide recycling programmes for used products that can’t be put in kerbside recycling bins.

Lancôme Absolue Soft Cream (Refillable), $490.
Floral Street Wonderland Peony, EDP 100ml $220.
Dior Rouge Dior Lip Balm (Refillable), $67.
Emma Lewisham Skinreset Serum (Refillable), $148.

Put your money where your mouth is

One of the most straightforward ways to reduce the impact your beauty routine has on the planet is to spend your hard-earned dollars on brands that place sustainability and environmentally friendly initiatives at the forefront of everything they do. While greenwashing is still rife within the industry, it’s never been easier to support brands doing their bit to negate the beauty world’s impact on our planet. 

Click ‘buy now’ on brands that favour minimal and easy-to-recycle packaging, have initiatives in place to reduce carbon emissions, take a circular, sustainable approach to everything they do, and use sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients.

And if you’re not sure where to start with brands that puts the planet first, click here to read our round-up of five of our favourite homegrown sustainable beauty brands.


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