Sustainability and Skincare: Get You a Routine That Does Both
On planet Earth, everything is connected.
That means that the choices that you make in your daily life -- like how long you run the water in the shower, if you use reusable grocery bags at the store and even the products you use daily -- have the power to ripple out and affect everything else, even if it’s in a small way.
Understanding this fact of life can help you make decisions that support the Earth, instead of causing it further harm.
One of the best places to look for helping preserve the environment is starting with your skincare routine. Prioritizing the well-being of the planet and your face while you create a sustainable skincare routine will only do good in this world and in your life.
Because at the end of the day, your products are more than just an opportunity to help clear your face and get your glow on... they can also help protect the planet we call home!
This philosophy is called sustainable skincare. It’s the future of skincare, self-care, and the planet. Are you wondering what sustainable skincare looks like, and how to practice it in your own life? We’ve got you covered.
What is the Importance of Sustainable Skincare?
Now that you understand a little more about the importance of sustainable skincare, but what exactly does the term mean?
Your tube of mascara or bottle of lotion may not be as innocent as they seem.
The beauty industry, especially in the United States, unfortunately, lacks significant regulation around what goes into products and how products are made. Many mainstream beauty and skincare products are full of toxic ingredients and come in wasteful packaging that ends up in landfills and the ocean.
You have the power to make a difference with each small choice you make, though! An important place to start is choosing sustainable skincare brands. Each dollar that you spend is an opportunity to do good for the planet – and your skin.
There are so many different variables that go into whether or not a product is “sustainable.” When it comes to skincare, two of the biggest factors you should look at is if your products are made with ingredients AND packaging that are clean for the planet.
Sustainability is a spectrum from a high to low impact on the environment. While there probably isn’t a perfect option out there, there are brands that aim to have as low of an impact on the environment as possible by using natural ingredients, manufacturing in an environmentally friendly way, and opting for sustainable skincare packaging.
Why Choose Sustainable Skincare Brands?
As a consumer, the decisions you make not only impact your health but the health of the planet. Supporting sustainable skincare brands not only is the best choice for the environment, but it’s also better for you and your skin as well.
The same toxic beauty ingredients that leak into waterways and in the soil, can also make an impact on your body when you use non-sustainable products. Sustainable skincare products are typically made with ingredients that are better for you and the planet.
The eco-conscious brands that are creating these products care about more than just making a quick buck. They understand that the products they create can negatively or positively impact both their customers and the environment. Reducing the impact on the environment is ALWAYS a good thing.
Think of it this way – your body is your home. Your skin is the walls that enclose that home. The Earth is also your home. Both these things are affected by every choice you make. By choosing sustainable skincare brands, you get to work together with these companies to give yourself healthier skin while creating a healthier planet.
What to Look For in Sustainable Skincare Products
There is a growing push for sustainable skincare products. With so many options out there, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are the best for you, and whether or not those brands are actually “sustainable.”
Although the beauty industry hasn’t always had the best reputation when it comes to sustainability, this change in the tides and desire for people to prioritize the environment has made space for more and more innovation when it comes to sustainable skincare products.
Now, there are a lot of brands out there that are doing your skin and Mother Earth right... but how do you find the right one for you?
Walk into almost any beauty store these days and you’ll see plenty of labels that claim “all-natural” packaging covered with (sometimes deceiving) leaves and flowers, and the promise to do it all. This can be exciting, but also overwhelming!
So here’s exactly what to look for when building your sustainable skincare routine.
First things first – what are your products made of? Just because a company claims to have “natural ingredients” doesn’t necessarily mean they live up to the standards that you want to go for.
High-quality sustainable skincare products are made from ingredients that have been minimally processed, denatured, or chemically altered. Basically, the closer an ingredient is to its natural form, the better it is for your skin. Less processed ingredients = cleaner for your face and the environment.
Sustainable ingredients aren’t always the less processed, though. You want to make sure you understand where the ingredients came from, how they were grown, and how they were harvested. All of these factors come together to create a sustainable product, well before it ever touches your skin.
When choosing a product, it’s helpful to look at how many ingredients are in it, not just what kinds. For the most part, fewer ingredients mean a more sustainable product. It also helps you understand what ingredients work best for your skin, and rule out any that might irritate it or cause a reaction.
Another factor is how readily available the ingredients are. Are they able to be grown fairly fast and easily?
Even if it’s all-natural, if an ingredient takes years to grow, using it in products isn’t necessarily the most sustainable option as it’s a slow renewing resource. Using these ingredients may also harm their surrounding ecosystem because they don’t grow as readily as other sources.
Two examples of clean, all-natural and environmentally-friendly ingredients can be found in Terasana’s skincare products – CBG and Squalane. These are both derived from sustainably harvested Brazilian sugarcane, through processes that create a minimal carbon footprint.
So you have a high-quality product that’s made with high-quality ingredients that are minimally processed, and made from readily available resources. Now it’s time to see what container these products come in.
Sustainable skincare packaging is just as important as the product itself. Take a peek at your bathroom cabinet. Can you see just how many bits of packaging and plastic go into keeping your products contained?
Choosing a sustainable skincare product isn’t just about choosing the product with sustainable ingredients, it’s also about paying attention to what you do after you’re done with them. Just because they no longer serve a purpose in your medicine cabinet doesn’t mean they just evaporate.
The packaging they come in then go out on their journey into the world either causing more pollution or getting recycled into something new and fabulous!
In 2018, at least 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were produced by the personal care industry. That number has only increased since then. That’s a whole lot of plastic seeping into the environment, and plastic isn’t the only issue when it comes to sustainable packaging!
You’ve heard of the saying “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Well, it’s time to put that into practice.
Make sure you do your part for the planet by choosing products with sustainable skincare packaging.
This means avoiding plastic and opting for glass and metal. If you do choose a plastic product, don’t fret, just try to make sure it’s recyclable. PET (polyethylene), PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) are the easiest plastics to recycle.
Before recycling your containers, just make sure to clean them out completely and take them apart so they can be more easily recycled.
Many brands these days have recycling programs where you can send your empties back in or take them to the store, often in exchange for a sweet little discount. Companies like Terracycle make it possible for you to send in your empty containers and know they will be properly recycled for their next life.
If you’re into do-it-yourself projects or upcycling, it can be fun to find creative ways to reuse the packaging from your favorite products. Like how you can transform an old lotion jar into a homemade candle. Or use an empty skin serum bottle to fill with an herbal tincture.
Reducing your waste and reusing what you do have can be much more impactful than just recycling!
Products are important of course, but a skincare company has the ability to do MORE than just sell products. What else are they doing to support the health of the planet? A brand with a strong code of ethics understands that its role doesn’t stop at the shelf.
Some brands have a philanthropic arm and donate to other organizations that also work hard to do better for the planet. These brands know that each step they take towards bettering the planet ripples out and creates a more beautiful world.
When choosing a sustainable skincare brand, look at their mission statement and how transparent they are with their process, as well as what they do outside of creating products.
Building a successful company means creating financial resources that they can then use to further invest in the health of the planet. What are they doing when no one’s watching?
Are they pouring funds into restoring and maintaining the ecosystems that they get their ingredients from? Do they invest in fair labor and ethical work conditions? Do they support the communities where their ingredients are grown and their products are manufactured? Do they have specific causes that they dedicate themselves to like animal cruelty or reforesting?
These are just a few of the many ways that a sustainable skincare brand can give back to the world. You vote with your dollars. When you buy from brands that give back, you’re making a statement that says “I choose to not only support my skin, but the planet I live on, and all its inhabitants.”
Building a sustainable skincare routine doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This is an opportunity to do good for yourself and the planet, so have fun with it!
You might not get it perfect, and it can take time to overhaul your whole routine. But every little choice you make has the power to make a difference for the better.
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