Making the effort to integrate low and zero waste products into your beauty routine can sound a little, well, not very glamorous. As an accessories editor who spends most of the day studying insanely gorgeous jewels and super sexy stilettos, people sometimes look confused when I’m raving about my favorite shampoo bar. But I'm always down to find products that are up to my high standards but also make me feel good about what I leave behind.
A huge part of embracing the effort to become less wasteful in my beauty routine started with assessing the things I already have. I mean, everyone can relate to beauty hoarding and the thrill of adding a new lip color or eyeliner into the mix. Before trying any of these products, I’d recommend first using up what you already have and keeping your key products on a good schedule. Once you’ve realized what you really can and cannot live without, start swapping your go-tos for ones with better packaging (and, most times, better ingredients).
Spoiler alert: In this process, I stopped wearing much makeup and slimmed down my skincare routine. I started to really look for products that are multi-use or large enough to last some time. Not only does streamlining save a tremendous amount of space, but also time and money. It may not work for everyone, but what I was able to take away is how much and what exactly I am consuming on a daily basis.
This list of products below will constantly be evolving, just like my process to become more waste-free. But these are some of the super easy, high-quality swaps that can help make your routine a bit more streamlined and a lot more green.
I literally cannot stop talking about this bar. My co-worker Katie found a sample in the office and “thought I might like it." Little did she know, she caught me at my most downtrodden in my shampoo bar trial period. Bar after bar, my fine hair either became super waxy or just unclean-feeling, and I was ready to give up hope on these entirely. Enter Hi-Bar, which is insanely moisturizing but never heavy—my hair feels baby soft. And the bar comes in a paper envelope (such chic and minimal packaging!). The conditioner bar is a real winner too.
A classic never goes out of style, especially if it comes in a simple cardboard box. This is the only bar soap that does not leave my dry skin feeling waxy. I prefer to buy the bars individually instead of in the multipack to avoid any plastic wrap.
Plastic refillable razors and disposable razors started to creep me out and frankly did not fit my aesthetic. It took me a minute to plop down the coin for this super chic swap, but I already feel so much better for having done it. Oui The People makes these refillable blade razors in matte gold, rose gold, and black for $75, with a 10-pack of refillable blades costing only $11. I’m no math genius, but something tells me I’ve spent much more on plastic razors and their junky refills since I was a teen.
I’m VERY obsessed with this clay-based cleanser in powder form. Mix just a little powder with a few drops of water and it works itself into a rich lather that is so calming for the face. It comes in a glass jar (the plastic lid is recyclable) which I will reuse for storage.
I was particularly drawn to this product due to the 4oz size of the oil—it LASTS, and you feel like you can use it liberally and on other parts of the body (nails, elbows, etc.) without draining your bank account. And the oil itself is pretty solid, especially for my super picky skin. The plastic dropper is a bit of a bummer, but can be recycled.
I cannot say enough about Hanahana’s body butter. Right now they’re sold out, but get on the list because you’re going to want this. My quarantine skin has been insanely dry, but using their exfoliant bar in the shower and finishing off with their body butter locks in moisture and doesn't make me feel too slick or sticky.
Okay, I won’t lie—the transition to natural deodorant has been a real personal journey. The first step for me was finding one that WORKS and can hold up stress sweat and an all-day “go-go-go” schedule. Then of course, I had to one-up it and find one with very minimal and green packaging. I thought I was destined to always have a hint of B.O. I blindly tried Terraessentials after stumbling upon them on Instagram, and this “pit perfume” is a LIFE CHANGER. A little goes a long way, and that hint is completely gone from the moment I wake up to the moment I hit the hay.
I actually tried a sample of this for the first time at the U.S. Open last year and was so thrilled by the cardboard packaging. The "tints" help you avoid any white film many other sunscreens leave behind. As a disclaimer, I have been literally burned by other plastic-free sunscreens, so I urge you to err on the side of caution when trying a new sunscreen for the first time. Please make sure you are diligent with reapplying until you are comfortable with the product. This one is excellent and could not be more space-saving for travel.
I stumbled upon Lulu Organics at a vintage store years ago. The packaging was so striking and the scent is super light, freshening my hair without leaving it looking too powdery.
Junky plastic hairbrushes seem so...junior high? This wooden one is much more grown-up and doesn’t beg to be hidden.
Bet you hadn't thought about this one! Try these cotton hair ties that not only look better than a junky elastic, but are less damaging on the hair.
Kjaer’s Weis’ refillable foundation is a little pricey, but the quality is unparalleled compared to most package-conscious brands. It blends super easily into my face oil, guaranteeing that a little goes a long way. I add just one more layer on trouble spots and under the eyes so not to need concealer.
I’ve always been someone who loves using the same color for cheeks and lips and I’m not stopping anytime soon. This little cardboard tube does not disappoint and the formula is heavily pigmented so just a touch blends nicely and lasts a while.
I went on a crusade (ask my co-worker J) trying to guarantee that the container of this incredible SPF lip balm was indeed completely made of metal, not plastic. An amazing customer service rep from Bobbi Brown confirmed this, returning my frantic call two days later via voicemail. This balm is the real deal. Heavy-duty enough for winter, but with SPF 15 for summer days and year-round protection.
Eyes are a great place to use a multi-purpose product and I love the line Fat & the Moon. The “Earth” color is great for my brows and doubles as a smudgy brown liner if I need an extra punch. The waxiness of this formula means very little drag or smearing.
I will preface this by saying that this mascara will give you a very natural look, so it may not be for everyone. But it’s hard not to love that this one from Nudi comes in a biodegradable cardboard tin! It will require a spoolie for purchase or you can simply clean a spoolie from an old mascara, which works just as well.
Just get into a bamboo brush, period. It not only looks more chic than some neon drugstore plastic one, but is such an easy way to cut down waste.
Don't know much about toothpaste tabs? It's high time you get acquainted. Because plastic toothpaste tubes are hard to recycle, billions of them head to landfills per year. 64 of these tube-free tabs come in a single paper envelope, resemble candy and remind me of something an astronaut would use. After just a few chews, I was SHOCKED how much these foamed up and the charcoal ones make my mouth feel insanely clean (though totally black at first). May you never return to a plastic tube version again!
If you're having a hard time wrapping your brain around toothpaste tabs, don't worry! Let's take this in baby steps. This David’s toothpaste is super natural and makes my mouth feel very fresh. Unlike the plastic tubes most toothpastes come in, the metal tube is recyclable—just cut it open, clean it out, and done!
Ditch plastic floss for good with this bamboo floss made with activated charcoal and coconut oil. Plus, it comes in this simple paper box.
This mouthwash was developed by a dentist who is also a surfer. With the intention of keeping plastic out of oceans, Dr. Christopher Perez, DMD, blends the need for a heavy-duty oral rinse and reduction of plastic waste with its glass packaging.