How I Made The Switch To A Low-Waste Skincare Routine

One fateful day sometime last year, I took a look at my bathroom shelves and realized (to my horror) that they were lined with single-use plastic bottles containing my hygienic “essentials.” For the fine humans in the back — I had over 50 sample, travel, and full-size products all enclosed in plastic packaging. At that moment, I suddenly realized that this was not okay — for me at least — so I decided I had to try a low-waste skincare routine.

Earlier last year, I ditched plastic shopping bags and began using reusable totes instead. I also made an effort to ask waiters for no straws and avoided single-use coffee cups like they were the plague (because they’re just as gross).

Fun fact: we can’t recycle our way to a better planet. Face wipes take about 100 years to biodegrade and only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. I decided to make some changes. 

low waste skincare routine
Instagram/@lushcosmetics

Here is my current 4-step low-waste skincare routine for the busy, young professional (with dry and acne-prone skin) that I am.

I want to preface my routine by saying that although some brands have been or have begun packaging products in plastic-free containers, these brands aren’t necessarily perfect but are better than products packaged in 100% plastic containers. 

Step 1: Makeup Remover

low waste skincare routine
Instagram/@norinovreness

Coconut oil cures all, right? Well, I’m not so sure about that, but it is the perfect first step to take off all the dirt and makeup from your day. Right now I’m using a jar of organic coconut oil from the grocery store that comes packaged in glass (just don’t use the one you cook with), but if you’re feeling fancy, the RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream will do the trick.

To take off the oil, I wet reusable cotton rounds in warm to hot water and make small circular motions around my face until all of the oil is removed.

Step 2: Cleanser

low waste skincare routine
Instagram/@sajewellness

Others rave about honey as a natural, low-waste cleanser, but I’ve tried it and it’s just not for me. Instead, I use solid facial cleansing bars. Right now, my go-to bar is the Zap Tea Tree Oil Face Bar from Saje which comes packaged in cardboard. To use, I run the bar under warm water and then lather it between my hands. This creates a milky cleanser that I use to remove any remaining oil, makeup, or dirt on my face. 

Also, Lush has recently come out with a naked skincare line with tons of different cleansers that I have been dying to try! There are a ton of mainstream and accessible, or locally-made options out there!

Step 3: Exfoliation

low waste skincare routine
Instagram/@cocokindskincare

When I mentioned earlier that I have dry skin, I meant that I have very very dry skin, which requires semi-frequent exfoliation. I am currently using cocokind’s Sea Moss Exfoliator, which is a very gentle mechanical exfoliator that does the job right. It’s packaged in cardboard and glass, but has a plastic lid — hey, you can’t win them all.

Step 4: Moisturizer

low waste skincare routine
Instagram/@deciem

Last but certainly not least, my favourite part of my skincare routine: oils! While I have experimented with different oils in the past, I’m currently using The Ordinary’s 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil which is packaged in cardboard and glass with a plastic dropper. It’s super hydrating and leaves my face glowing!

In terms of the minimal plastic packaging that some of the products I use do contain, I will be recycling through L’Occitane en Provence’s TerraCycle program to recycle my hard-to-recycle plastics.

I hope I’ve inspired you to try your own version of a low-waste skincare routine because you and the planet deserve it!

Featured Image: Instagram/@emma_sugi

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