By Julie-Ann Sherlock

Most of us enjoy giving mother nature a hand when it comes to looking good, and according to 2019 figures, we spend a whopping $532 billion USD a year on the beauty industry. But some of our preening and primping is hurting our environment, and we need to change our habits fast!

We have generally become more environmentally conscious in recent years. With global leaders such as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2019, Greta Thunberg, highlighting the damage we are doing to our planet, it once more headline news. So what can we do to try to limit the impact we have on Earth, while still maintaining our Hollywood Starlet glamour? 

We try to cut down on beauty waste, of course! 

What Is Beauty Waste?

Much to our planet’s dismay, we live in a throwaway world. Our love of convenience and inexpensive products has led to overflowing landfills the world over. The cosmetic and personal care industry contributes a large chunk of waste to this trash. 

Take a look in your bathroom right now. Go on, do it, I will wait. Hands up if you have disposable razors, plastic toothbrushes, shampoo and conditioning products? These are all necessary items, but they also all add to the mountains of rubbish clogging up our planet. Unfortunately, this is merely the tip of the waste iceberg

Most women have skincare routines we like to follow. Cleansers, toners, moisturisers and serums are all basics in most of our bathroom cabinets. Then add in our makeup with products such as concealers, foundations, lipsticks, powders, and paints, and we start to reach the core of the issue. 

But we still have more! Don’t forget all the brushes and applicators used for putting on our makeup or the cotton pads or wipes we use to remove it. Then take a look at the tweezers, the eyelash curlers and countless other “must-have gadgets” we collect as we try to stall the ravages of time on our faces. 

And I am sorry to say, but it’s not just the containers and packaging that are the problem here. Some of the products we use also contain microplastics and other harmful ingredients that find their way into our water systems and ultimately into the bellies of our marine life

Sigh. Even those of us with the most basic beauty regimes are contributing tons of waste a year or allowing dangerous ingredients and by-products leech into the environment. 

It’s enough to make you ugly cry. But don’t. You will only add to the problem by needing to buy some creams to cover the red puffiness under your eyes. 

How Do We Reduce Beauty Waste?

Realistically, we are not going to solve this issue overnight. Indeed, it is unlikely we will ever rid ourselves of all the potions and lotions that we think are essential for today’s beauty standards. 

However, don’t despair, there are ways you can reduce your contribution to the beauty scrapheap without sacrificing your standards or stinking rooms up with your lack of deodorant. Some innovative companies have started making a move to more environmentally friendly products and practices. 

Anita Roddick started The Body Shop in 1976 to give people the choice of using more natural, gentler skin products. She encouraged people to bring back the containers, making recycling trendy, while also saving herself money. This ethos has been part of the company since, and they have continued to evolve into a beauty business that focuses on environmental concerns and human rights issues. Right on! But they are still not perfect and have some work to do with regards to their packaging.

Another company many view as an eco-friendly option is Lush. Ever walk along a high street and get a whiff of delicious perfume? You might be near a Lush store. Their products are a delight to the senses and come with some badass environmentally sound credentials. Almost 50% of their products are “naked”, in other words, don’t have packaging. Those that require containers come in recyclable ones, and they offer incentives for returning them to the store for re-use.  

But these two well-known brands are not going to win this fight alone. Luckily, many other zero-waste companies are entering the market, and some established traditional brands are starting to read the room and follow the demand for kinder to the environment products, too. 
As we try to save the world from destruction, we can still do so with glossy hair, flawlessly made-up faces and nails manicured to perfection. But we must take the time to do our research and only buy products we need and are environmentally sound. Be a beauty superhero, not a trashy waster and let’s solve this problem together!