Are you a product junkie? Yep, so are we. When we buy beauty products, most ofВ us probably have the same things in mind: the price of the product, the quality, the look of the packagingвЂ¦ В But how often do we stop to think about what we're leaving behind?
The beauty industry's impact on the environment is often surprisingly negative. It's responsible for producing thousands of tons of waste each year. (Just think about how many packages you open and discard every month.) Many companies test on animalsВ and aren't completely transparent about how and where their ingredients are sourced. In other words, our product addictions have consequences.В
But we aren't totally helpless against the system. There are steps we can take to make our beauty habits more ethical, less wasteful, and overall better for the planet. To find out what these steps are, we consulted four specialists in the field of eco-beauty.
Look for the Leaping Bunny SymbolLeaping Bunny
вЂњThe first critical step to becoming a more ethical beauty consumer is to make sure none of the brands you use are tested on animals,вЂќ say Katie Bogue Miller and Justine Lassoff,В co-founders of online eco-beauty boutique Love Goodly. If a brand does not test on animals at any point during a product's creation, then that brand is considered cruelty-free. Organizations like Leaping Bunny and PETA make it easy to check which brands fall under this category. You can also check to see if the Leaping Bunny logo is printed on the product's packaging, says Suzi Scheler, founder of earth-friendly beauty resource Cruelty-Free Kitty.
Some of our favorite cruelty-free beauty brands include RMS Beauty, Ilia, 100% Pure, Too Faced, and Urban Decay, but there are thousands more!
Choose Your Packaging WiselyEarth tu Face Coconut Body Butter $42Shop
Every product comes with disposable packaging, but not all of it has to end up in a Texas-size garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific. (Don't Google this; it will depress you.) Knowing what packaging to avoid, reuse, repurpose, and recycleВ can greatly reduce your personal waste.
вЂњAvoid plastic packaging, which isn't biodegradable,вЂќ says Scheler. вЂњInstead, look for products with minimal or eco-friendly packaging such as cardboard or glass.вЂќ For example, you can reuse an empty glass body scrub or lotion jar as a makeup brush holder. And if all else fails, these materials are 100% recyclable.
Examples of great brands with sustainable packaging include Lush, Earth tu Face, and Organic Essence, says Scheler.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
вЂњBy far the best way to be kinder to the environment is to consume less,вЂќ says Scheler. But for a beauty junkie, that's like asking a chocoholic to simply eat less chocolate. Easier said than done.
вЂњIf you can't help yourself, go for quality over quantity,вЂќ Scheler advises. вЂњInstead of buying 10 inexpensive products you don't need, treat yourself to one high-end product you'll actually enjoy. You'll minimize the environmental impact by being less wasteful.вЂќ
Find Your Drugstore's "Green Beauty" SectionMilani Amore Matte Lip CrГЁme $7Shop
Luckily, вЂњqualityвЂќ doesn't have to mean вЂњexpensive,вЂќ not even when it comes to eco-friendly products. For your essentials, raid the вЂњgreen beautyвЂќ section of your drugstore, says Scheler. Dozens of great affordable brands are cruelty-free (and sometimes vegan!), including Milani, E.l.f., Nyx, and EcoTools. Here's a helpful chart listing which drugstore beauty brands are vegan and cruelty-free.
Be Wary of LabelsS.W. Basics Organic Lip Balm Flight $10Shop
Just because a brand is advertised as вЂњnaturalвЂќ doesn't mean, well, anything at all. вЂњUnfortunately you can't trust labels, since there are no regulations,вЂќ Scheler explains. вЂњAny product can be labeled as 'natural' or 'eco-friendly.'вЂќ For this reason, it's important to flip over the packaging and actually read the ingredients. (I had an experience once where after weeks of using a вЂњnaturalвЂќ product, I found out that it was actually packed with parabens-ick!)В
вЂњThe gentler the ingredients, the gentler the product is on the environment,вЂќ Scheler says. вЂњIf you see a long ingredients list with a lot of chemicals, it's probably not a green product.вЂќ (As a note, Scheler also recommends avoiding all products containing palm oil, which is associated with mass deforestation.)В
If ingredient lists seem intimidating, here's a pro tip: вЂњI keep this wallet-sized shopper's guide from the David Suzuki Foundation in my wallet so that when I shop for my beauty essentials, I avoid the 'dirty dozen' chemicals found in a lot of conventional cosmetics,вЂќ says Annalea Krebs, CEO of Social Nature,В a social sampling community that helps consumers find natural products.
We love products from brands like S.W. Basics, Thesis, and Herbivore Botanicals, which contain very few ingredients, all of which are pronounceable and ethically sourced!
Sign up for a Subscription BoxPetit Vour Monthly Plan $15Shop
If you're nervous about navigating the world of sustainable beauty, sign up for an eco-friendly subscription box. This leaves all the curating up to someone else. вЂњTry a subscription box that includes only cruelty-free, vegan, non-toxic beauty and skincare products,вЂќ recommend Miller and Lassoff, whose bimonthly eco-friendly box,В Love Goodly, donates 5% of its proceeds to nonprofits Farm Sanctuary and Cure Cervical Cancer.В Petit Vour,В Vegan Cuts, and LaRitzy are also excellent eco-friendly boxes.
The best way to guarantee that you know what's in your products? Make them yourself. вЂњYour kitchen is your lab!вЂќ saysВ Krebs. Concocting your own products is also a surefire way to reduce packaging waste.
Looking for recipes? One of Krebs's favorites is this moisturizing, gently exfoliating face mask. All it takes is 1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal flakes, one ripe avocado, and two tablespoons ofВ Manuka honey, which is вЂњknown for its antibacterial and healing properties,вЂќ says Krebs.В