Buying clean beauty products is only a part of the answer. A skincare regime is more than what you purchase but also about what you preach.
By Rutuja Sapre
When I began to educate myself on the impact of fast fashion, I started to read labels attached to my clothes. A natural second step would have been to do the same with every product purchase I made. However, it didn’t at first occur to me to read the labels on my cosmetic products. It was more daunting to begin asking “what’s in my skincare” than it was to ask “who made my clothes”.
Skincare and beauty products form a part of everyone’s daily routine. Most of these products, either shampoo, conditioner or moisturiser, come in plastic bottles which, once empty, are discarded without a thought. Today, not all skincare products are good and can cause harm not just to the environment but to us as well.
So how can a conscious consumer follow a more sustainable beauty routine? We break it down into five easy steps.
Use What You Already Own
Similar to sustainability in clothing, the focus here is to use what you already have first. Don’t overwhelm your wallet by buying an entirely new set of products. Instead, use what you have and eventually make the switch to sustainable products.
While using what we already have, we must be aware of the correct way in which our products are intended to be used. How much shampoo is genuinely needed to be used per wash? What is the right way to apply face cream? Did you know conditioner is not meant to be used on your scalp? I had to watch a lot of YouTube videos to re-learn some of the basics!
When Buying, Buy Better
Skincare and beauty products, just like our food products come with an expiry date. Opt-out of shopping for the cheapest products with “great” discounted prices. Instead invest in quality cosmetic products with good reviews, which would last you longer.
The switch to sustainable alternatives from mainstream brands can seem intimidating at first. The way I started was by just researching other options. I looked for articles outlining lists of brands from India, who were cruelty-free, vegan, having natural ingredients. All you have to do is read the “about us” page on their websites to learn more about their beliefs and values.
Read the labels on everything, to know what is inside the bottle. Sometimes green coloured packaging is just green in colour, and not a sign of natural ingredients. When it comes to beauty products, it is hard to catch the greenwashed fiction but not impossible.
Talk to medical professionals to get more information about the right products for you. Certain skin types can be prone to reactions when exposed to an entirely new kind of product. Always ask the expert!
Switch to Non-Plastic
The total number of plastic toothbrushes being produced, used, and thrown away each year has grown steadily since the first one was made in the 1930s. Since plastic is virtually indestructible, that means nearly every single toothbrush made is still out there in the world somewhere, living on as a piece of trash.
Today several brands offer a better alternative in the form of a bamboo toothbrush, which comes with a biodegradable bamboo handle. It lasts much longer, and when you are ready to dispose of it, it doesn’t add to the waste. Instead, the handle can be used as compost for your garden, rather than merely filling up our landfills.
Similarly, you can replace other everyday single-use products like makeup wipes or cotton balls. Reusable cloth wipes are a good alternative. They save you way more money in the long run.
Simplify Your Routine
When developing a routine that’s suited for you, consider products which you love using and others which are merely taking up space on your bathroom counter.
Sustainability is synonymous with reducing needless consumption and waste. Make a list of what exactly you want to buy before shopping for products. It helps you stay away from buying unnecessary products simply because they were on sale. If you find yourself throwing away expired but unused products, it is time for a change.
Also learn the right way to use your products. Often we buy a product just out of its charm without knowing how or when to use it. When using makeup, reach out to professional makeup artists or stylists on social media platforms. You may learn the most optimum way to apply foundation, or how to wash your brushes to make them last longer.
Just Do Your Best
Try not to get overwhelmed by the task of improving the world one moisturizer at a time!
There are so many ways to be more sustainable and green in your skincare routine. Just as I mentioned above, sustainability comes in all shapes and sizes. You could start by using products with all-natural ingredients or only by trying not to shop as often as before. All that matters is to begin.
As we at Conscious like to say: Sustainability is not about making a significant change one day. It is about taking small steps each day. So when it comes to adopting a sustainable skincare routine, start with one product or purchase at a time.
Rutuja is a freelance fashion designer and influencer from Pune with a degree in fashion design. She has been a womenswear designer for over four years, working exclusively with handloom fabrics. In her free time, runs an Instagram page called @thefashionconscience dedicated to promoting slow fashion practices and sustainable fashion brands.