3 surprising eco beauty swaps to make that will make a big difference
We all know about microbeads, which have thankfully been outlawed in the name of the environmental damage they can cause, but what other swaps can we make to ensure our beauty routine is eco savvy?
In a sometimes challenging year, glitter has added a dash of fun, taking us from high fashion to festival chic and even pepping up our bathtime. However what does not often get a second thought is that glitter particles are often made from microplastics that end up in our environment. Thankfully more brands are coming to the (kind and considerate) party, with earth-friendly alternatives.
“We use a couple of plastic-free glitters,” says Sarah Anderson, Lush Australia and New Zealand customer care trainee manager. “One of these is calcium sodium borosilicate, glass-like flakes made of different minerals, such as calcium or sodium, coated with dye. In terms of environmental impact, these are naturally occurring materials, as are the dyes used to coat them. The other glitter you’ll see in Lush products is synthetic fluorphlogopite. This is a lustre synthesised in a lab to mimic natural mica. The decision to move to synthetic mica instead of natural mica was made after we could no longer guarantee that no child labour was being used in the process of mining it. Even though it is synthesised in a lab, it is still constructed of natural minerals.”
Lush is working to address wider issues like reducing water use and packaging by making solid ‘naked’ versions of its products and minimising preservative use. Similarly, brands like Ethique are dramatically reducing paper and plastic waste compared to traditional methods.
Did you know oxybenzone and octinoxate, ingredients common in most chemically-derived sunscreens, have been shown to cause significant damage to coral reefs and other marine environments and organisms? They wash off our bodies in enough quantities to have a long-term impact, no matter where in the world you live.
Earlier this year Hawaii became the first country to ban sunscreens containing those chemicals and it’s likely others will soon follow. Your best alternative? Choose a ‘physical’ sunscreen, one made with minerals including zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Modern versions go on smoothly, last well and are less likely to irritate sensitive skin types.
Single-use beauty products
We’ve said au revoir to plastic bags and made the move to ditch single-use items in other areas of our lives, but how many of us are still using cotton buds to correct makeup mistakes or whacking on a sheet mask at the end of the day? Instead of resorting to these items, following our mother’s and grandmother’s approach and choosing reusable face cloths and muslin wipes can make a real difference. ‘Magic’ microfibre makeup remover cloths are useful in a number of areas and selecting masks in recyclable vessels will save on waste. Sustainably-sourced products like cotton pads and buds are also now widely available. Keep an eye out for beauty brands like Essano, which has opted to use newly available rPET for its packaging, which is a 100% pre-used, recycled material.
Have you made any eco-beauty changes this year?