Cutting out plastic and my unsustainable habits wherever possible has truly altered the way I think, eat, shop, and live for the better. I value my purchases so much more now because I pay attention to what’s in them, I buy products that work for me, and I actually use them up.
In the past I found myself investing in things that I liked in theory, but would never really use. Those impulse buys piled up in my bathroom, pantry, or closet for ages, untouched. Getting rid of and repurposing the unnecessary clutter over the years has been incredibly liberating—not only in the literal sense, but mentally and emotionally as well.
One area of my life that I’ve given a good overhaul is my makeup bag. Just a few short years ago, I don’t think I could’ve imagined giving up all of my favorites for a zero-waste skincare and makeup routine. But here I am, loving it and not feeling like it’s all that much of a sacrifice. Helping the planet doesn’t have to mean renouncing winged liner and a good red lip on a night out. Trust.
My favorite thing about my makeup bag now is that it’s filled with products almost exclusively from women-run businesses, most are handmade, and all of them align with my values. It’s empowering to know what’s going on your face, having brand trust, and being able to communicate with the people creating the products you use.
On that note, here are five zero-waste dream products that are effective, plastic free, and will make you feel and look like a million bucks.
5 Zero Waste Beauty Products that will change your life
Getting myself to break up with Glossier’s Boy Brow required serious willpower, but after the mourning period had passed I realized that Elate Cosmetic’s Brow Balm was a real upgrade. It has about 70% less ingredients, almost all of which are recognizable, which is big in my book. It’s easily buildable, the color blends nicely with my eyebrows, it lasts all day and comes off with one swipe of oil. I use it multiple times a week and still have plenty left—and I’ve had it for over a year. I also love the bamboo packaging. If I decide I don’t want to re-up when it’s finished, I can keep the container and try out an eyeshadow or concealer from them instead.
This eyeliner from Dirty Hippie Cosmetics has been a straight up blessing. When I switched to natural makeup six or so years ago, I could not find a quality liquid liner to save my life. The cat eye has been my go-to beauty move since high school, and I was coming to terms with the fact that I might not to be able to pull it off in the natural makeup world. Most of what I experimented with ended up smudging all over my eyelids within a few hours, and wasn’t packaged in a way that was up to my standards. My love affair with Etsy brought me to this incredible brand that uses fairly simple ingredients, is always zero waste, and makes products that last. This stays on all day, is gentle on my eyes, and is a true, sharp black. My recommendation would be to invest in a good liner brush if you don’t already have one and message them when purchasing that you don’t need the accompanying brush—I tried it a few times and find that it doesn’t give you much control as the brush I’ve had forever, so I just use that instead.
I was using W3ll People’s Expressionist Mascara for a long time, and still stand behind it being an all-around effective and natural product. But I was determined to find something without plastic that I liked just as much. Dab Herb is another Etsy company that I stumbled upon recently that I’m really excited about. They’re primarily zero waste, almost all of their products are completely food grade and organic. They offer refills, and even do plastic-free samples if you’re on the fence about something. What I love about this mascara is that it doesn’t smudge, it goes on really smoothly. It feels like a traditional mascara and bumps up your lash length beautifully. My only downside is that it isn’t super volumizing or intensely black, but I love knowing that it’s free of chemicals. So I’m willing to sacrifice a little fullness and definition for that. Plus, if I layer a few coats on I can pretty much get it where I want it.
A truly clean, high-performance lipstick is hard to find. As someone who doesn’t like to wear a lot of lip gloss or lipstick in general, I try to look for things with staying power, i.e. options that last without needing reapplication every twenty minutes. Kjaer Weis’ lipstick in KW Red is probably the most luxurious product I’ve tried out on in the zero-waste beauty world. It’s a little bit of an investment, but the case is beautiful and timeless. I love that you can refill it, and I still have plenty left after having it in my makeup bag for a year plus. It’s a rich, staple red, goes on like velvet, fades in a way that doesn’t make you look like a hot mess after hours of wear, and is mostly organic. Praise be.
Fat and the Moon is one of the first minimalist and low-waste beauty and skincare companies I came across. While I’ve experimented with a lot of DIYs and other brands since, I still have a huge soft spot for their Glow highlighter. It works incredibly well on olive skin tones (and probably all, but I can only speak for my own). Glow comes in a cute, lightweight tin, and reminds me of sunshine. I use it as a gold cream eyeshadow, on the apples of my cheeks, and below my brow bone for a subtle sheen. Note that there is beeswax in this formula. If that goes against your ethics, RMS has some beautiful highlighters (though sadly they’re not strictly plastic-free anymore to my understanding). Dirty Hippie Cosmetics has some lovely highlighter options I’m dying to try next.
Do you have any zero waste heavy hitters in your beauty routine?
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Photo: Fat and the Moon; Respective brands