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Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Self-Care Products

After writing my Earth Day post with eco-friendly alternatives to common household items, I started thinking about other areas where waste and single-use plastics abound. It didn’t take me long to land on the beauty and self-care section of my life. Beauty and makeup products are notorious for their hard-to-recycle packaging and overuse of plastic, and don’t even get me started about the chemicals and scary ingredients contained within the products themselves. But I digress – that’s a post for another day. Today we’re going to talk about sustainable alternatives to beauty and self-care products we use every day.

I’ll be honest, replacing products in this realm is a lot harder for me than finding sustainable household products. I don’t think the beauty industry has embraced the eco-friendly approach as much as they should have at this point, and products in this industry are so personal that it can be hard to switch to a different brand simply for the sake of mother earth. For this post, I decided to focus on what I consider to be easy swaps between wasteful products we already use and their more planet-friendly counterparts that are equal to, if not better than, the original in their effectiveness. 

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Travel was one of the easiest areas for me to find product replacements. As the world opens up and I’m starting to travel again, I noticed that I use more plastic bags to package all of my makeup and hair products for a trip than I do in a month at home. That is sadly not an exaggeration. To counteract this, I ordered these TSA approved clear toiletry bags from Amazon. A set of 3 is less than $10, and I love that they’re symmetrical and modular which makes them so easy to pack in your purse, hand luggage, or checked bag. I found them to be the perfect size for my 1-2oz serums and other skincare products. They also perfectly fit makeup brushes, mascara, and the like.

I also found that I usually put my razor and my beauty blender in their own plastic bag, which was unforgivably wasteful. Thankfully, I found this chic reusable silicone beauty blender travel container on Amazon for only $7. For my razor I noticed that my preferred brand, Billie, makes a reusable travel case which was a no brainer to switch to. 

Travel-sized products themselves are also a leading area of single-use plastic waste. The tiny bottles end up in landfills much faster than their bulk-size sisters. To make matters worse, most refillable travel containers are complete garbage and end up getting thrown away themselves after only a few uses. I used to be a consultant who traveled Monday-Thursday, so trust me I went through my fair share of product testing. The best alternative I’ve found to date are these refillable containers by Cadence. Not only are they made from recycled ocean bound plastic, they’re also leak proof, non-leaching, modular and magnetic, and TSA-compliant. Did I mention they’re also customizable AND dishwasher safe? Yeah, these are a no brainer. 

Skincare and makeup is an area where I’ve found it difficult to substitute products with eco-friendly packaging. Though the industry has made great strides in cleaning up their ingredients, with clean, effective brands taking center stage of late, their product packaging has yet to catch up. However, I have found a few tools that I’ve been able to swap out with their wasteful counterparts. 

I swear by my Beauty Blender for perfect makeup application, and I recently discovered that the exact same brand makes a green (literally) alternative. The Bio Pure Beauty Blender is made from 60% plant-based material and a more sustainable production process. The container is even constructed with recycled resins. For toner application I normally reach for a cotton ball, but I recently found these reusable and machine-washable organic bamboo rounds. The set even comes with a chic display container. You guys also know I love my sheet face masks, but I recently learned that these masks are extremely wasteful and often contain plastic polymers and micro-plastics, which are responsible for a significant amount of ocean pollution. They’ve even been called “the new plastic straws” – yikes. Thankfully, The Honest Company makes a reusable silicone face mask. Simply apply your regular serums, then put on the mask to lock them in.

Some products are simply a necessity, not a luxury. Think tampons, dental floss, and the like. Very few alternatives exist for some of these products, and you can’t exactly just opt out. I recently discovered by Humankind, a brand “designed to reduce single-use plastic waste in your daily routine”. The company is carbon neutral and specializes in convenient, refillable self-care products in chic packaging. Think, q-tips, deodorant, dental floss, and more. 

Although I’ve used Cora organic cotton tampons for years now, I was recently shamed for not using turned on to the benefits of a menstrual cup. A friend literally said to me, “Hannah, I cannot believe you do not use a menstrual cup.” The implication being that I am frequently the planet police and need to practice what I preach. I bought the Saalt cup a week later. It has definitely been an adjustment, and I still keep a stash of tampons (but they’re organic!) nearby, but I’m determined to make the switch a permanent one. 

I hope this post inspires you to replace some of your everyday self-care products with more sustainable alternatives! If you haven’t already, be sure to read my post with 11 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Common Household Items.

As always, thank you for reading and sharing!

By Paces West

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