How To Make Your Health & Beauty Routine Plastic-Free

Rose Boardman

Every year the health and beauty creates billions of tonnes of plastic. Toothbrushes, wet wipes, shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles, body wash bottles, make up remover bottles, lotion bottles, tubs, tubes… Take a look in your bathroom cupboards and your make-up drawer, and you’ll realise that absolutely everything is either plastic, or packaged in it.

The Ugly Truth: The beauty industry is not as pretty as it seems.

Pretty much everything in your bathroom will be packaged in plastic, often with pumps, lids, and caps which can’t be easily recycled. As we all know that even recycling can’t get us out of this mess, reducing our plastic consumption is the only answer.

Some products are actually made of plastic. Things like toothbrushes might be obvious. But did you know that make-up wipes, wet wipes, and baby wipes are made from synthetic plastic fibres that do not biodegrade, meaning they end up clogging up landfill sites. And when flushed down the drain they make their way into the ocean, where animals can ingest them, often resulting in death. It has been estimated that since 2014 the number of wet wipes found washed up on beaches in the UK has increased by 50%. This has to stop!

Plastic toothbrushes, and toothpaste containing micro plastics, packaged in PLASTIC. Photo: Pixabay

Plastic toothbrushes, and toothpaste containing micro plastics, packaged in PLASTIC. Photo: Pixabay

But there has also been increased attention on plastics inside cosmetic products. Plastic is on the ingredient list for a variety of personal care products, including toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, creams, eye shadow, deodorant, blush powders, make-up foundation, skin creams, hairspray, nail polish, liquid makeup, eye colour, mascara, shaving cream, baby products, facial cleansers, bubble bath, lotions, hair colouring, nail polish, insect repellents and sunscreen. So…. pretty much everything.

Microbeads might have been banned (in the UK at least), but manufacturers are still allowed to add a tonne of other plastics, with some products consisting of 90% plastic!! Most of these we are putting on our skin, or flushing down the drain, which isn’t good for us, or the oceans.

The light at the end of the tunnel….

Luckily for you, there are so many eco-friendly alternatives out there. Plenty of brands and small companies are making changes as the plastic-free movement continues to grow.

Here are a few changes that you can make to your beauty routine!

Ditch your disposable razor

Why are you wasting tonnes of money buying new plastic razors and heads every month? Investing in a safety razor will dramatically cut down your plastic use and will also save you money as they last you a lifetime = win win!
Check out the Albatross safety razor and see our product review here. They’re completely plastic free, and you can even send back the old blades to be recycled. You can get a years worth of blades for as little as $7.50

Stop using face wipes and cotton pads

Removing makeup or dirt from your face can be done using a face cloth, or reusable bamboo or cotton pads. Why not purchase one for every day and pop them in the washing machine (or hand wash) at the end of the week. You could even try out an eco-friendly konjac (plant) sponge for extra exfoliation.

Check out our review of bamboo wipes here

Swap plastic for bamboo

You can now get your hands on bamboo toothbrushes, makeup brushes, hairbrushes and even cotton buds… There’s no need to replace plastic items that are still in working order, but if your hairbrush breaks, or your toothbrush wears out, consider replacing with a bamboo alternative.

A few of our favourites:

Buy bars not bottles

Ethique bars are completely plastic free, palm oil free, cruelty free and vegan!. Photo: Carissa Cabrera

You can get bar versions of numerous products, including face and body washes, moisturisers, shampoo and conditioner... you name it - there’s a bar for it. Already barred soap has been making a comeback, following years of decline in sales.

  • Lush has a great range - with 26 different fragrances you are spoilt for choice!

  • Another great brand is Ethique, who sell entirely bars in all shapes, sizes and purposes.

For hair and body washes, simply lather the product up in your hands, and apply to your face, body or hair. If you’re worried about keeping them dry you can buy a metal tin to keep them in. Moisturisers can be applied directly to the skin after showering.

Not convinced you could make the swap? Check out our product reviews below:

Plastic free make-up

Several brands and websites are now stocking plastic free, or minimal plastic make up ranges. You can find some of the products below.

Beware of makeup claiming to be plastic free when in fact they are plastic tubes and tubs covered with bamboo. Some brands have glass jars, or use tins, whilst others still contain a bit of plastic. It’s best to contact the website to check!

Check out this helpful article for more tips or brands to try.

The make up we typically buy and use comes in plastic packaging, which is usually thrown away after use. Photo: Pixabay.

The make up we typically buy and use comes in plastic packaging, which is usually thrown away after use. Photo: Pixabay.

Swap your sunscreen

With summer just around the corner, it’s important to protect yourself from those harmful UV rays. But did you know you can get plastic free sun cream? Both these suncreens come in metal tins, and also contain zinc oxide, so are reef safe.

  • Shade sunscreen is an all-natural sunscreen that only contains 4 ingredients (shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax and zinc oxide).

  • Zed Clay is another all-natural brand, made at home by mum Kato Harrison made with the same 4 ingredients plus a touch of rapeseed oil, clay and cacao.

DIY whenever possible

There isn't much a good face mask can't cure. But instead of purchasing a plastic packaged option, with an ingredients list from a chemistry class, you might want to look at the contents in your cupboards!

Check out this fantastic recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon of manuka honey

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of Dead Sea salt

Just mix all the ingredients together, smear it on your face, and let it work it's magic for 10-15 minutes, before rinsing off with warm water.

You can even make your own toothpaste! Check out this article for some body scrub recipes, or this page for more DIY ideas.

Know where to shop

There are lots of online shops that stock plastic free and zero-waste beauty and healthcare products. Here are a few great eco-friendly shops to visit.

You might have to shop around to find the right things for you, or why not see if there’s a plastic free store near you!

Look out for return schemes

Some brands are finally taking responsibility for their packaging, and implementing closed loop systems, where your empty products can be returned and reused including:

You can also send your used but unwanted make-up to ‘Give and Makeup’ to help women who have escaped abuse and refugees who have nothing.

Deciding to embark on a completely zero-waste beauty routine may seem like a daunting task, but starting with some small and easy changes is a positive and vital step that we should all aim to achieve.

This month, The Marine Diaries will be sharing our knowledge on plastic pollution to help educate the public about the impact of our actions on marine life, in the hope of promoting change. Together we can fight plastic.

Want to become part of a community striving to reduce their plastic use? Join our Facebook group