8 Ways to Be an Eco-conscious Beauty Consumer

by The First Refresh

We all know the drill by now: bring a bag for grocery shopping, say no to single-use straws and utensils, bring our own tingkat when buying takeout. But what else can we do as individual consumers to promote environmental sustainability? (Here’s a hint: for beauty aficionados, have you considered re-looking your daily habits?)

Granted, most of us are never going to be minimalists and live our lives on just a bar of soap and the token moisturiser. But chances are, when you open up your cabinets and makeup pouches, there are probably a tad too many products that could have warranted rethinking before purchase.

To help you become a more mindful beauty consumer, we have compiled a list of little tweaks you can make to your everyday routine so you can start to reduce your carbon footprint—every little bit of effort from everyone will eventually make a difference! 

Don’t feel like you have to do everything written here all at once though. Just like dieting and exercise, it’s important that any lifestyle change you make is sustainable over the long run so it’s okay to start slow and build things up from there. Let’s dig in!

1. Understand the term eco-friendly

Just because a product is packed with natural ingredients doesn’t necessarily make it green. Eco-friendly products must be safe for the planet and for us to use. This means the natural ingredients used should ideally be organic—no harmful pesticides or chemicals are used in the process of crop growing. You should also look out for the bunny icon at the back of the packaging, which signifies that a product has not been tested on animals. Vegan products are great as well as they contain no animal by-products or animal-derived ingredients.

If you wish to go step further, research the brand’s production processes. Do they take steps to minimise their carbon footprint? Are they working with suppliers with green values? Do they adopt circular waste management (i.e. pass on cast-offs or unwanted parts of plants for other purposes)?

2. Check the packaging

Support brands with sustainable packaging such as boxes made with FSC-certified paper, glass bottles that can be reused many times over or recycled plastic containers. Even better, go for products with minimal packaging—bar soaps are the best option for this.

3. Phase out single-use cotton pads

Cleansing wipes are convenient and hygienic but they also contribute to our landfills. Also, anything made with cotton is resource-intensive and the crop requires the use of pesticides, which harm soil over time. So swap out single-use wipes for reusable face towels that can last you ages.

4. Skip sparkly makeup

We all love a little shimmer in our eyeshadow. Mica, the ultra-fine shiny powder used in most makeup products, can be found around the world but is commonly sourced from India, apparently boasts mica of better quality. The powder is often mined illegally by impoverished children and their parents in unsafe conditions and for extremely little pay. These workers sometimes have to clear precious rainforest to reach mica underground. If you have to have some shine on your complexion, look for products containing “ethical mica” or synthetic mica.

5. Find uses for beauty empties

Rather than just tossing out used jars and bottles, see if they can be put to better use. For instance, your makeup palette can serve as your children’s paint palette; taller vessels can house makeup brushes or flower stalks; and smaller jars can hold little trinkets of yours. You can also bring empty containers to certain eco-aware beauty stores that collect them for recycling—L’Occitane accepts empties from any brand at selected boutiques. But remember to clean them out before the drop-off.

6.  Finish a product before starting on another one

It’s so tempting to rip into a fresh tube or try a newly acquired shampoo even before you have exhausted the contents of your existing products. But we all know some products will eventually go to waste because of this habit. Here’s an additional hack to minimise product waste: cut a slit at the top of your tube cleanser so every last bit is used up.

7. Refillable beauty is a gorgeous idea

Shops like Scoop Wholefoods and The Source Bulk Foods have body washes, shampoos and more stored in a huge vat—bring your own bottles and fill them up. You can also choose beauty products that come in refill bags rather than those in hard containers.  

8. Adopt a "sustainable" mindset

There are many ways to do our part. For instance, shopping in stores on the way home instead of ordering your products online means you aren’t contributing to exhaust fumes on the roads. There are also ways to go green with beauty services. For instance, The First Refresh offers EcoRefresh, whereby you enjoy a discount if you book an appointment with a therapist who is in your neighbourhood. Get on the notification list if you are interested.

Got other ideas for going green? Share your thoughts with us!