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Your guide to plastic-free beauty

Take your beauty cupboard from zero to hero with these no-waste hacks!

Your guide to plastic-free beauty

In our quest to live a zero-waste lifestyle, our beauty cupboard is one area that proves difficult to tackle. While you may have mastered the ability to scope out and stock your shelves with cruelty-free make-up that’s free from microplastics and animal derivatives like carmine and shellac, you might have encountered another problem: waste.

From excess packaging to plastic pumps and non-recyclable materials, all those lotions and potions can leave a harmful trace. In fact, last year, Zero Waste Week reported that the global cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every year; the majority of which isn’t even recyclable. But we also know that recycling is simply not enough to tackle the global pollution problem. So, as we strive to seamlessly merge our beauty routine with our eco-centric lifestyle, the need for packaging-free products or reusable containers has become more important than ever.

Luckily, zero-waste goods are quickly gaining traction in the beauty industry – and we’re loving it! After all, looking good shouldn’t come at the detriment of the planet. Here are some of the growing zero-waste trends in the beauty industry to inspire you to go plastic-free from top to toe.


One of the most obvious ways to reduce plastic in your beauty cabinet is to switch to bars. We’ve always loved the ‘naked’ options at Lush; arguably one of the pioneers in the packaging-free revolution. Now, there are even more choices popping up from other brands, meaning you can swap your bottled body wash, shampoo, facial cleanser, and deodorant for solid, waste-free alternatives. Companies like Ethique even offer body lotions, facial moisturisers, and serums in the form of bars! Be careful, though, as some companies that sell these will still package the bars in a plastic film hidden inside a box, so try to read reviews or check the labelling to ensure it’s 100% plastic-free.


One way the industry is tackling plastic packaging is by creating biodegradable options that won’t sit in a landfill for years. Faith in Nature is one brand that is leading the way. The company’s beautiful shampoos, conditioners, and body washes come in bioplastic containers made from sugarcane instead of petroleum, as well as recycled plastic bottles. The company is now making headway to reduce its plastic use even further by switching its soap packaging to recycled cardboard.


If you’re striving to be completely zero-waste, then reusing containers is the way to go. While options used to be limited in this respect, more make-up and beauty brands are now offering refill schemes. With companies like Zao, you can simply buy refills once you’ve used up the brand’s products such as eyeshadow or mascara. Better yet, the cases themselves are made of bamboo and the packaging is made from biodegradable cardboard. Many companies will also allow you to return used bottles and containers, which are cleaned for reuse. Faith in Nature has such a scheme for its five-litre containers, and it even offers a discount as a thank you.


Taking things a step further, circular brands like Axiology rely on waste to create its packaging. The US-based company works with a women-owned and female-run factory in Bali that turns post-consumer paper rubbish from offices, hotels, and schools into recyclable boxes, which Axiology then uses to package its make-up. Upcircle not only repurposes its packaging but the ingredients, too! Using leftover natural ingredients like coffee grounds and brewed chai tea spices, the brand revives waste to make skin glow. As more companies like these champion sustainability in the beauty industry, we’re hopeful the statistics will be turned around in the coming years.

Want more? Check out these 8 Ethical Beauty Brands To Keep On Your Radar

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