How To Create the Most Satisfying Zero Waste Skincare Routine

How To Create the Most Satisfying Zero Waste Skincare Routine

Get ready to start swapping! Try these 5 ideas for bringing a zero waste skincare routine into your daily life.

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I am not proud to admit that my skincare and beauty routine has been the hardest thing for me to shift in terms of sustainability. It’s hard for me to let go of having a “more is more” mentality about my skincare and makeup routines because, let’s face it, I have plenty of insecurities around beauty standards – as I’m sure many of you do too. However, over the past year or so I’ve decided to take an active role in becoming a more conscious consumer and moving towards a zero waste skincare routine that I’m happy with.

The way I see it, in order for your lifestyle to be sustainable it also has to be sustainable for your life.

I’m definitely not perfect yet, and I’m not interested in pressuring myself to become perfect at this overnight. I think we all need to do our best, but sometimes because of money, time, or availability it’s hard to maintain a fully sustainable lifestyle at all times or implement it all at once.

Well anyway, I think that was just enough of my #deepthoughts on the matter at hand, so let’s just hop right into to actual list! Without further ado, here are my six top tips for moving towards a zero waste skincare routine.

Essential Zero Waste Skincare Routine Swaps

1. Switch to reusable cotton rounds

Zero waste skincare routine: reusable Cotton rounds
Image: Greenzla on Etsy

There is quite literally no reason to not make this switch.

These guys are just as effective as disposable cotton rounds, but obviously don’t end up in the trash every time you use them! They’re probably the easiest thing you can do to make the move towards a zero waste skincare routine.

Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between reusable rounds and the disposable ones we all grew up with. If anything, these are nicer because the fibers don’t come off if you get them too wet or push too hard when using them.

I would say the only thing these can’t replace is if you use the disposable ones to take off nail polish, because obviously that would ruin the cotton rounds. Other than that though, you can basically do everything with these. Buying one pack will save you a lot of money in the long run, because you’ll almost never have to repurchase them.

Check out the ones pictured above from Etsy, which I love because they’re also organic!

To keep my collection large, I’ll also often cut up a T-shirt I was planning on donating into small circles and use them as well!

2. Start using solid lotion

Zero waste skincare routine: solid lotion
Image: SeedGeeks on Etsy

Honestly I’ll go ahead and say it: solid lotions are underrated!! I have no idea why these aren’t more popular among discussions of zero waste skincare routines!

Solid lotion gives you more bang for your buck because you don’t have to pay for any of the things that make regular lotion a more liquid-y consistency. The heat of your skin will soften the solid bar and help it glide across your body. You’ll end up having these last way longer than a bottle of lotion, and these don’t get your hands all slimy (does anyone but me have that problem??). Because you’re just getting the pure ingredients, I find that these are much more effective at moisturizing as well.

I recommend this one that’s unscented (great for sensitivity) and is packed with nourishing butters and oils!

I personally like to keep mine sitting in my shower (away from the shower head). Once I’m done showering I pat dry very lightly and then rub the lotion bar all over my skin (or wherever I’m looking to moisturize). I find that having a bit of water from the shower still on your skin helps the bar to glide even better and gets a better and more even application.

If you have access to any kind of bulk store, zero-waste store, or even just an organic type of store, there is a good chance that they may sell oil in bulk. You can likely purchase a glass bottle that’s the size you want, or you can repurpose an old bottle from previous cosmetics to fill with bulk oils. I would personally recommend using a bottle that you can use with either a pump or a dropper top.

Everyone’s skin is different obviously, but some of the best basic oils that will be good across a large range of skin types would be Jojoba, Sunflower, Argan, Coconut, or even Olive oil.

I alternate throughout the week between using a moisturizer and an oil, and I genuinely can’t tell you which I prefer. I think they offer different feelings of moisturizing! I think the best way to describe it is basically this: using oil feels lightweight but more hydrating, while moisturizer is heavier and slightly less hydrating.

The way I apply oil is by just dropping enough into my palm, rubbing my hands together and then kind of patting my hands onto the areas I want the oil, then going back over those areas with my hands and massaging the oil in. It’s really nice!

If you’re still a beginner to zero waste skincare routines, don’t already have a bottle, or have trouble finding a bulk store I would recommend ordering this Jojoba Oil to start off with.

Ordering larger sized bottles can be a great start because it allows you to consume less packaging. The jojoba oil on Etsy will last you a while and you can even repurpose the bottle once you’ve used it all up!

4. Bar face soaps

Zero waste skincare routine: bar soap

I mean, you had to have seen this coming right?

If you’ve read my zero waste bathroom guide or my Nuddy soap review you’ll know that I’m like, the world’s biggest proponent of bar soaps, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

That being said, I think that bar soaps for the face are unfortunately hard to come by. Many are too harsh or use comedogenic ingredients, so I like to be particularly selective when it comes to picking bar soaps for my face.

While I’m sure there are plenty of small brands that do it well, the one I can personally vouch for is TANAKA soaps (not pictured). I’ve tried several of their soaps and they’re all amazing. TANAKA’s products are some of the few bar soaps that actually don’t strip my skin, instead of just saying they won’t strip my skin. I really truly love these.

5. Pledge to only use cruelty-free, sustainable skincare & makeup brands

Zero waste skincare routine: sustainable skincare
Image: Shine Skincare Co on Etsy

Sustainability isn’t so black and white when you’re looking at brands (as opposed to Etsy, or small independent labels, for example). Because brands are making a ton of product, and then shipping that out to customers or to their suppliers, the supply chain introduces a much bigger number of places for claims about sustainability to become… questionable.

For example: I once was chatting with a brand on Instagram about sustainability, as I had mentioned to them that while I love their products, I wish they came in glass containers so that I wasn’t contributing to plastic waste when purchasing. They told me that they had been hearing that frequently from customers, but that they were concerned because a switch to glass bottles means heavier inventory, which means it takes much more energy to transport the products. Furthermore, glass actually takes more energy to recycle than plastic, despite being better able to actually be recycled.

So basically you’re now looking at choosing between a horrible material, or horrible fumes in the air. This is why, in all honesty, I sometimes have such a difficult time getting all my ducks in a row and being truly sustainable. It’s basically like the show The Good Place… and if you don’t get that reference but you feel this struggle, just watch it.

Because of all this, when it comes to supporting brands, I take a more holistic approach. I want to make sure the brand is diverse, committed to anti-racism, concerned about the environment, and uses ethical and sustainable ingredients. Those are my big concerns, so if a brand is at least trying to hit most or all of these points, they get a thumbs up in my book.

Some brands I feel make the cut for my zero waste skincare routine are:

Cocokind: gentle & effective products with sustainably-sourced superfoods, at an affordable price.

Herbivore Botanicals: products have an emphasis on organic, high quality, and food-grade ingredients.

Shine Skincare Co: packaged and shipped with eco friendly materials and quality ingredients.

BONUS: Switch to a shampoo & conditioner bar

Zero waste skincare routine: Shampoo & conditioner bars
Image: EcoRootsShop on Etsy

This was probably the first switch I made into a more sustainable lifestyle, and so even though it isn’t technically a zero waste skincare routine item, it’s making the cut!

I love this swap because it’s applicable to everyone who washes their hair (which is nearly all of us), and it’s so stupid easy that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Shampoo bars are great for a number of reasons. First of all, like all bar soap products, you don’t pay for water! In bottled/liquid soap products, a lot of what fills the bottle out is literally just water. Also known as the thing you’ll be getting pelted with while you use your shampoo. So why pay for it in the first place when you could just lather it up in the shower! This means you end up using a lot less product as well, thus extending the lifespan of your bar. Saving the planet and saving money!

To use shampoo and conditioner bars you can fall into one of two camps: rub in your hands and put the lather on your hair, or rub directly onto the hair. I’m personally of the latter technique, but it’s really to each her own.

I firmly believe that there is a shampoo bar for everyone, no matter your hair type or concerns. However, I will say that conditioner bars are probably best saved for those who do not have thick hair. Speaking as someone with thick hair, I have only ever struggled with conditioner bars, and I no longer use them at all anymore.

If you want to give them a try I would HIGHLY recommend you take the plunge. This is the best beginner swap.

Get started with these super cute bars from one of my favorite Etsy shops:

Click here for the shampoo bar, and here for the conditioner bar.

What will you do first to create your zero waste skincare routine?

I think I’ve mentioned enough by now that I find it quite difficult to overhaul my entire beauty routine to something more sustainable. But writing this post actually helped remind me that making sustainable swaps is something I genuinely enjoy, and I hope that it helps me to be a bit better at it in the future.

Before you go, I challenge you to make ONE of these swaps right now to move towards a zero waste skincare routine.

Just put it into motion! Order a bar soap, go find a bulk store.

One thing. Today.

Let me know in the comments what you choose!

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  1. It really isn’t hard to switch! I’ve heard so many people say how difficult it would be to have bar shampoo and conditioner, but since I switched, I haven’t noticed any difference. EXCEPT, I use way less plastic bottles!

    1. Yes exactly that! We get so conditioned into thinking we need our products to look and feel that we forget that we can achieve the same results in other ways!

  2. I absolutely agree with you. I have become more aware of what I use and how it affects the world. Thanks for this article !

  3. This is such a great idea. Skincare comes in so many containers and plastics. It’s about time to start re-thinking how we repackage things. I already started using some of these ideas but I definitely need to do more.

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