I'm not one to wear make-up, in fact, I can probably count the few times I've actually put on makeup. It's not part of my daily routine which is excellent because it means I can stay in bed a little longer instead of waking up early to put on my face. The one thing that I have always done though regardless of the weather, how tired I am or just my general mood is to always put on a moisturizer with at least SP F15. This is probably the one advice from my mother that I have actually followed since high school. So when I started thinking about transitioning my beauty routine, it seemed a little easier to me to do so. I am by no means against makeup so check out The Organic Bunny for some beauty products that are also eco-concious and made of natural, organic ingredients. Alternatively, you can absolutely make your own which is also fun.
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Along with sunscreen, I always wear lip balm. I stuck to Chapstick for a period of time, then moved on to Burt's Bees because it was more natural. I also always slept with Vaseline to keep my lips moisturized. The problem with all of these is that 1) they come in plastic tubes or packaging 2) with the exception of Burt's Bees, a small portion of Chapstick and majority of Vaseline is petroleum based. I wanted to move away from these so I decided to try my hand at making my own.
Thankfully, this was easier than I thought. A bar of shea butter and beeswax bought on Amazon plus an existing jar of coconut oil and some peppermint oil and voila homemade lip balm without all of the extra chemicals. Who knew it was this easy. There are plenty of recipes online that you can try. You can use up your shea butter as lotion and create candles out of beeswax or beeswax cloth to replace plastic film food wrap so no wasted ingredients there. The shea butter I bought on Amazon (pictured on the right) comes in plastic free packaging so another plus. It's wrapped in parchment paper and comes in the box. Another win there on the zero waste part.
I moved to using a J.R. Liggetts Bar Shampoo immediately after finishing my last bottle of shampoo. This transition felt easy. It does take time to get used to a new product so be patient when moving on to something natural for your hair and body as both need time to adjust. I'm switching between that and some local bar shampoos I have found. My hair is pretty thick and I found that I had less frizz when I moved to a more natural product. I've also used pure argan oil as a leave-in conditioner and use a little bit of it after straightening my hair. Argan is multi-purpose as I also use it as a moisturizer sometimes.
My advice too when buying Argan Oil , make sure these are authentic, pure, have organic certifications, come in dark glass jars and smell the way they are supposed to. Argan oil has a slight nutty smell to it, not too strong. Oils should not be exposed to light and having them in dark glass jars means no leaching of plastic chemicals. You also don't need large amounts of oil unless you are also cooking with them so a few ounces will go along way. If you will be using this for your face and hair, splurge on the organic as these will last awhile.
I still have old hair brushes made out of plastic, but once these start to break, I will be switching to wooden brushes and combs. Every few weeks, I do soak my brushes and combs in a vinegar/baking soda/hot water mix. It helps to remove any grime or product residue ensuring brushes that last longer and ensuring a clean brush each time. Using bar shampoos made of natural ingredients is not only great for the hair but as many of these bar shampoos come in paper packaging, it's definitely better for the environment. In some cases, if you buy them at certain stores, like Wholefoods or at local farm markets, you can probably get them package free so one less item to compost or throw in the trash bin.
Update: I've moved on from using bar shampoos to using Plaine Products. My full review here.
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For the face, I think it's best to keep things as natural as possible. I think one of the many reasons many of us breakout is due to two things: our diet and the chemicals we put on our face. We may think it's helping, but in most cases it's temporary. Making your own face scrub is also easy to do. Try making this sugar-lavender scrub at home. Plastic bead free, chemical free and smells wonderful.
Oils such as olive, jojoba and avocado oil are great makeup removers. I've personally used jojoba and argan oil as moisturizers and they remain on the skin without looking too greasy. In fact, these give me a nice looking glow as if I put on makeup and spritzed a setting mist on top of it. There are plenty of sustainable face products out there too. Look for ones made of natural ingredients and come in non-plastic packaging. On top of the natural oils, I love Taylor Natural's sunscreen as daily wear for my face. It smells fantastic, made of natural ingredients and light enough to wear everyday. I've reviewed 2 natural sunscreens in the past that you can check out below.
I'm not a big fan of scents that try to mimic something sweet like caramel apple or strawberries. These give me headaches and make me nauseous. I commuted to New York City by bus and would always cringe if I ended up next to someone with heavy perfume that smelled too fruity or cologne that was too musky. Today, as I transition to zero waste, I'm opting for natural scents like lavender. It's easy to mix this with a little bit of oil and dab it on your skin. It's straightforward and doesn't contain other chemicals. Did you know? The word parfum or fragrance can mean a whole list of chemicals but because a combination of these chemicals makes a unique fragrance, companies do not have to list what parfums are made of because it's proprietary. So imagine breathing in and putting unknown chemicals on your body and on top of that those chemicals sitting in plastic bottles for long periods of time, it doesn't seem pretty. As part of the zero waste transition, think also of what you spray on. Select natural scents. Plus, as long as you shower everyday, you probably don't need to mask your natural scent anyways.
From body wash to lotions, a lot of waste and more specifically plastic is used to make us feel cleaner and better about ourselves. Similar to the Scents above, do we really want all of these chemicals sitting in plastic waiting for us to put this on our largest organ: our skin. Definitely not! As you transition, look for products that come in alternative packaging such as glass containers which allow you to see the product, won't leech plastic chemicals into the product and can be recycled a few items over. Products in cardboard packaging or even just wrapped in simple paper is good for the environment as these can be composted quite easily. Definitely check out your local farm markets or local shops and even Etsy to find shops that sell homemade soap in paper packaging.
Check out one of the queens of zero waste, Lauren Singer, from Trash is for Tossers, whipping up her own shea butter body lotion. She makes it look so easy!
One of the biggest things I learned in the zero waste beauty transition process is that you do not need separate beauty products for each part of your body. We've all been marketed that you need one thing for the face, another for the body, something else for your hair, but in reality, the same products can do multiple jobs. Take shea butter for instance. It's a great moisturizer not only for your lips, your face and your entire body. A jar of good quality argan oil goes along way as a moisturizer for face, body and hair. So when you really think about it, zero waste is also about simplifying our beauty routine.
Update: I moved to using Plaine Products for my shampoo. Find the review here.