I was planning to wait to write this until I’d nailed a zero waste skincare routine and then I realised the whole point is for me to share my journey. My routine isn’t plastic free yet; it’s a work in progress.
It can be really overwhelming trying to find new skincare products and I found reading about other people’s regimes really helpful. I’m going to share the skincare products I've been using, why I'm planning to stop using a couple of them, and share some tips to help you start your own low waste skincare routine. Woop!
Before we get started:
- Everything listed here is cruelty free and vegan
- I have fussy skin so I avoid heavy products - I think most things here are suitable for sensitive skin
- All of these products are toxin-free
This is what I use day and night to kick off my skincare routine. It’s a perfect gentle cleanser that removes makeup and all the crap from the day, leaving behind clean feeling skin that doesn’t feel dried out, as some cleansers do.
I really, really, love this cleanser. However, the packaging. My goal is to rid plastic packaging from my skincare and personal hygiene routine, so I won’t be repurchasing. Pacifica do sell a kale charcoal foaming facial detox bar, so I think I might give that a try once I've run out of this. If anyone has recommendations for cleansing bars, I am all ears.
DIY Rose toner
I struggled to find a toner that came in glass packaging that didn’t cost an absolute fortune, so I turned to the world of DIY. I came across this ‘rose face spray’ DIY on Beauty Crafter and daaaaaamn, it’s good.
It contains just three ingredients; rose water, rosehip oil, and glycerine. I’ve been using it for over four months now and I think it’s really helped improve the condition of my skin by assisting at moisturising.
It cost me £14.37 to buy those three ingredients from Akoma (love them because they have lots of organic and soil association approved options, and support co-operatives). The rose water was mostly all used up in the first batch but I think I should get at least four batches out of the glycerine and several out of the rosehip oil, which makes it very cost effective. All I need to do now is find rose water in a glass bottle - any suggestions?
It took me a while to take the leap into the “oil absorbs oil” and try out a facial oil and I am never going back now I'm finally here. This oil contains lots of awesome things aimed at moisturising, protecting, and soothing your skin, such as; rosehip oil, avocado oil, vitamin e, and calendula oil. I use two-three pumps of this every morning and every other night after my toner.
Lyonsleaf products are really popular with people who have sensitive skin and who suffer from skin conditions, so I would recommend trying out some of their samples if you suffer with that. To top it off, you have the option to buy this oil without a dropper if you’re repurchasing. It's also made in the UK, which is great if you want to support UK businesses and reduce the miles your products are travelling from being manufactured to your face.
I struggle to use creams (especially thick ones) without breaking out, so I decided to give a balm a go after reading so many glowing reviews. You only need a tiny amount (this 60ml jar lasted me over a year) to receive all the moisturising goodness. This balm is also perfect for any other patches of dry skin as well. It can also double as a cleanser, if you fancy oil cleansing.
The Beauty Balm comes in a glass jar and the lids are all metal now instead of the plastic one you can see on my jar.
Thanks to the weather in Scotland just being ‘wind’ during winter, my skin took a battering and was in need of much moisturising and some kind of wizardry to get rid of the wind-induced spots. I’d heard rosehip oil was supposed to be really good for your skin and it’s bright orange, so I was sold. Sometimes all it takes is something being orange to tip me over the edge.
At £24 a bottle, I was worried about how quickly I would get through it - I use it every other night and I’ve probably used around a third of a bottle in five months so no worries there. This is one of those ‘magic’ products you use and can instantly see your skin looks much brighter. It’s taken care of a lot of redness and reduced scarring, so this is a keeper.
The bottle is glass, which is wonderful - I would like to see them doing what Lyonsleaf do and offer the option to buy a bottle without a dropper when you repurchase.
A night cream that isn’t super heavy on my skin? Yes, please. White Rabbit Skincare have created a gem of of a night cream here; it feels really moisturising without being greasy or heavy, it smells wonderful, and they donate £1 of every pot sold to the M.E Association. It’s also made right here in Scotland as well.
I’m wary of night creams because of the aforementioned heaviness, so I tried out their smaller bottle. It does come with a plastic pump but their full size is just a metal tin so I’m definitely going to be buying one of those when this runs out.
Despite having dry skin, I love a drying face mask. This one is fine for dry skin, though they do warn it might not be suitable if you have sensitive skin, though. It does a great job of cleansing, detoxifying, and leaves my skin looking and feeling clean.
However, there’s a but. It comes in plastic packaging. I wish Madara sold this in an aluminium tube, a tin, or a jar, because I would happily repurchase this face mask if they did. Once this is used up, I’m going to go back to Lani’s Tropical Cacao face mask, which comes in a glass jar and smells like you’ve fallen into a chocolate river.
Due to me having the complexion of a Twilight vampire (yep, still using that reference) I put some kind of SPF on if I’m going outside and it’s even mildly sunny. It took me a while to figure out how much to use - if I use too much, I get dreaded shiny, tacky ‘you’ve got sunscreen on’ face.
It does the job, and the packaging is recyclable. I’m not 100% sold on repurchasing it for a third time - I’m not sure if there’s a less tacky SPF moisturiser out there. I don’t know if such a thing exists or if it’s just what happens when something contains SPF. Any recommendations?
My eyes watered pretty much every time I went outside this winter and the skin under my eyes ended up feeling sore and dry. This eye cream tackled the dry skin in a matter of days, and has been handy on a couple of days when I’ve woken up with puffy eyes (when does that just start happening?).
There isn’t much to say about it; it gets on with it and does the job. As you can see, the packaging is glass and metal so it’s another keeper.
How to create a low waste skincare routine
It has taken me a long time to get to this point. I started off switching to cruelty free products about five years ago, and then vegan shortly after that. It's probably been the last two years that I've been consciously looking for low waste packaging, specifically removing plastic. Here are a few tips I've picked up to help you create your own low waste (almost plastic free!) skincare routine.
Don't throw everything out right now
There is no point in you emptying the contents of your bathroom out. It's a waste of money and resources. You may as well continue using up what you currently have and replace things as you finish them off.
Take time to figure out what kind of things you enjoy using and what you don't (do you like a foaming cleanser, or do you want to try out oil cleansing?) and what do you want from replacements? Do you just want them to come in low waste packaging? Or does the product also need to be vegan and cruelty free, do you want multi-purpose products, is there an ingredient your skin doesn't like? Starting to think about these things will help you start to narrow things down when you're looking for replacements
Try out samples
A lot of independent businesses, and some larger ones, offer sample size products. If you're unsure about something but are intrigued, try the samples out. It's a great way of figuring out what works for your skin and what doesn't without you wasting lots of money on full-size products - this is especially useful if you know you have sensitive skin or skin that doesn't like certain things.
Consider multi-purpose products
Multi-purpose products are a great way to save space and money. A lot of balms and oils can be used to tackle dry skin on other parts of your body; some oils can be used on your hair too; some balms can be cleansers and well as moisturisers.
Pay attention to the packaging
While plastic is recyclable, we have created so much plastic we don't know what to do with it and can't recycle all of it. I recently read that only 9% of all plastics were recycled in the US in 2015 and that was before China stopped accepting rubbish from the rest of the world, so I suspect that number is lower now. I try to avoid plastic packaging because while I can put it in my recycling bin, I have no idea if it will be recycled or not.
Your main low waste packaging options are glass and metal; though of course you can go packaging free if you're buying bars of soap. Glass and metal not only have much higher rates of recycling, they can also be really handy around the house. If you're trying to shop low waste, you might find glass and metal containers handy for storing spices and seeds, or making your own kitchen sprays or DIY skincare products.
What will it be sent in?
My experience is that most companies creating vegan and toxin-free products tend to care about the environment too, and their posting packaging reflects that. Take a look around their website (or email them if you can't see anything) to find out what kind of packaging they will ship your goodies out in. For example, White Rabbit Skincare have an informative page on their site about what they package things in and how they're trying to replace pumps and atomisers.
As I mentioned earlier, switching to a low waste skincare routine is not fast. It's also not without a lot of internet research in my experience, also. However, there's a definite feeling of joy when you use something that's good for your skin and the environment.
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