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How to Become a Sustainable Beauty Consumer
Have you ever realized just how much waste we actually throw away? It can be overwhelming. So much of our everyday necessities are made of materials that aren’t biodegradable, so we end up disposing of a huge amount of plastic that lasts up to a thousand years. Even menstrual products contribute a ton of plastic waste.
Personal care products can be wasteful, too. After all, most of them come in plastic bottles that ultimately end up useless once we’ve finished them. Being skincare and beauty enthusiasts, I’m sure we’ve accumulated a store of empty bottles, tubes, and plastic jars over the years.
That’s why many brands have switched to more sustainable means of producing beauty products. Whether it’s in the form of ethical sourcing, eco-friendly biodegradable packaging, or marine-friendly ingredients, there are so many ways that companies can help mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.
So where exactly do we fit in? Our role is to be the sustainable beauty consumer. This means being conscious of the products we buy, the values we support, and reducing our own waste. Find out how you can do that here.
What Does It Mean to Be a Sustainable Consumer?
Because sustainability has become so popular, companies have turned it into a buzzword. Often, instead of practicing eco-friendly production methods, brands simply greenwash their products and market themselves as “sustainable” without doing the hard work.
What does sustainability really mean? Cruelty-Free Kitty, a resource website for sustainable, vegan, and cruelty-free brands, defines sustainability as “the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the food, feed, and fiber needs of our country and the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”
In simpler terms, it means being able to use nature’s resources without causing it harm. This can be done by replacing single-use products with reusable items, supporting brands that don’t test on animals, and even using vegan products.
So, even if we can’t control a company’s practices, what we can do is practice sustainable consumption. We can start by looking at our beauty products. Are the ingredients environmentally safe? Does the brand have biodegradable packaging? Which parts of our routine produce the most waste and how can we reduce it?
As someone who swears by sustainable beauty, I’ve found that it can be an arduous task. However, the fulfillment of being able to give back to the environment is worth it all, and so I want to share my best tips on how you can do the same. Without further ado, here are 5 easy tips to start becoming a sustainable beauty consumer. Read on to find out!
How to Practice Sustainable Beauty
It’s great to practice sustainability in every part of our lives, but it can be overwhelming. That’s why we recommend starting your minimal-waste journey one area at a time.
With the popularity of eco-conscious beauty brands, it’s becoming much easier to become a sustainable beauty consumer. But there’s more to it than buying from brands marketed as environmentally friendly.
Here are our top 5 tips on how to become a sustainable beauty consumer:
1. Support Eco-Friendly and Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands
This is perhaps the most common way to practice sustainable beauty. By supporting zero-waste, vegan, and cruelty-free brands, it shows the big businesses that there is a market for reusable and sustainably designed products.
However, do be conscious of marketing terms that brands use to greenwash. A cruelty-free product doesn’t necessarily mean the brand is also eco-friendly or vegan. Cruelty-Free Kitty has compiled a list of products that fall under the large umbrella of sustainable products here.
2. Buy Local
Another great way to become sustainable is by buying local products. Supporting Filipino beauty brands helps offset the carbon footprint of importing foreign commodities, which is a huge amount. Not only are local products more affordable because they’re created locally, but you’re also helping the environment. Later on, we list our favorite local and sustainable beauty brands, so stay tuned!
3. Avoid Overbuying
We all know how exciting it can be to haul makeup and skincare, but overconsumption often leads to one thing: too much waste! Parcels from online stores always use a ton of plastic wrapping (some not even necessary) which is often thrown away and could take decades to decompose.
Just think about how much plastic packaging you throw away in your household from Shopee orders alone. Now, multiply that by around 20 million, which is the average number of households in the Philippines.
The solution is simple— avoid overbuying. The truth is, a lot of us don’t really need half of what we haul! So the next time you add those products to your cart during a mega sale, think twice. Do you really need the new beauty serum, or do you just need a quick dopamine boost? (Trust me, I know the feeling.) Being a mindful buyer is one sure step to becoming a sustainable beauty consumer, and it helps you manage finances, too!
4. Reuse Your Packaging, or Donate Them
Looking to do a little D-I-Y? Reduce your plastic waste by building your own refillable packaging. You can start with something simple, like reusing your shampoo bottles once they’re all used up.
You can also try buying from brands that reuse empty makeup and beauty product containers, like local business FINN the Label, which lets you send back their product packaging once it’s all run out so they can replace it with product. This mitigates the problem of plastic waste, which often ends up in landfills or in the ocean, harming marine life. In the same vein, you can also switch to products that use little plastic in their packaging, like shampoo and soap bars.
Another great way to reduce your personal waste is by donating your products to junk shops or stores that recycle plastic bottles. We’ve compiled the best places to donate your army of empty bottles to right here.
5. Reduce Single-Use
Our last tip to becoming a sustainable beauty consumer is reducing single-use plastic wherever we can in our routine. Do you use cotton pads for your cleanser, toner, or serum? Make sure it’s made out of 100% cotton and not mixed with synthetic fibers, which can take longer to biodegrade. Pure organic cotton typically takes a few months to decompose, so if you’re conscious about how much you’re disposing of every day, try switching to reusable cotton pads. This can help lessen your personal waste because you won’t need to throw cotton away every time you use toner or something like micellar water.
Local Sustainable Beauty Brands You Can Try
Ready to embark on your journey to become a sustainable beauty consumer? To help you out, here are a few of our favorite beauty brands that are committed to ethical, cruelty-free, or vegan beauty!
Akkula Compostable Products
Reduce your plastic waste and keep your lips super plump at the same time with Akkula‘s line of lip balms. Enclosed in a 100% compostable handcrafted paper tube, their vegan lip balms are made with plant-based products and come in all kinds of fruity flavors for anyone to enjoy. Guilt-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and locally made. What more could you ask for?
Let’s face it. Makeup and skincare products amount to a lot of plastic waste. The packaging isn’t always reusable and so they often end up in the trash once fully consumed.
RRAW is a local skincare brand that creates natural and locally-sourced products for Filipinas across the country. As a way to lessen plastic waste, you get the option to send back your empty beauty bottles and get refills.
Get sustainable haircare with Matenara’s wide selection of sulfate-free shampoos, shampoo bars, and more. The proudly Filipino brand makes use of locally-sourced natural ingredients that keep our strands healthy and clean. Plus, a lot of their packaging is reusable: you can recycle their glass bottles or safely throw away their compostable paper wrappers.
Thinking of switching to a menstrual cup? We highly recommend the Sinaya, the first-ever local menstrual cup brand. It’s made of medical-grade silicone that captures menstrual fluid so you can go for hours without having to change. Their cup comes in different sizes so you have the option to choose which one fits you and your menstrual habits better. Plus, it’s waterproof, so you can go swimming or beaching on your period without any worries.
Did you know that chemicals in your typical sunscreen can harm coral reefs? That’s why we highly recommend switching to reef-safe sunscreen for your next beach trip! Not only do they keep your skin safe from sun damage, but they also keep the seas safe.
Magwai believes in ocean-friendly personal care products. For co-founders Czar and Maffy, traveling the seas responsibly is of utmost importance, which is how they formulated their reef-friendly sunscreens. These sunscreens are made with ingredients that are safe and won’t harm corals.
They’ve also expanded to creating plastic-free shampoo bars and beach towels made of recycled PET bottles.
We hope this guide has given you some helpful tips on how you can become a sustainable beauty consumer. Remember, small actions can go a long way!
What are your favorite sustainable beauty hacks? Share them in the comments below!
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.