You’ve got a designated recycling bin in the kitchen; your glass water bottle is forever by your side; and you wouldn’t dream of using a plastic straw. But as sustainable as your life may be, does it stretch to your skincare routine?
It might be something you've never really considered; our day-to-day habits are deeply entrenched, and while it’s easy to see the amount of plastic covering a vegetable, navigating the ins and outs of sustainable bathroom etiquette aren't so simple. To that end, here’s a guide to washing your face, the sustainable way.
Say goodbye to disposable cotton pads
Every swipe of micellar water over your face utilises at least one cotton pad, and when you’re doing that a couple of times a day, the cotton pad tally really mounts up. “Producing cotton uses a huge amount of water, even more so if the cotton is organic, so the less one-use cotton pads in your routine, the better it is for the planet,” says Andrea Pfeffer, founder of Pfeffer Sal in London.
She recommends incorporating reusable cotton pads into your routine and buying seven, so you can wash them all at once ready for the following week. Try Urban Outfitters’ Eco-Friendly Reusable Cotton Rounds or Mille Saisons wonderfully soft silk cotton pads, that even come in pink, and remove make-up in a swoosh. For cotton swabs, Hydrophil’s Cotton & Bamboo Cotton Buds are totally biodegradable.
Muslin cloths are another great option for the entire face and can help reduce your water usage: “They are also brilliant at removing make-up, dirt and debris. Just like your cotton pads, have at least seven on rotation so you have a fresh cloth to cleanse with every day - damp, dirty muslins create the perfect environment for bacteria.”
Avoid cleansers that contain palm oil
“Demand for palm oil is contributing to huge deforestation throughout the world, destroying many of our natural rainforests and the wildlife that call them home,” says Pfeffer. Palm oil is a source of vegetable oil and comes under many different guises on ingredients lists - it is rarely labelled clearly. You might find it listed as vegetable oil or fat, palm fruit oil or even sodium lauryl sulphate, but the easiest way to check is to Google or consult WWF’s comprehensive list of products that contain palm oil. One of the best palm oil-free cleansers is Dr Hauschka’s Cleansing Cream, which is also as soothing as they come.
Reduce the temperature of your water
The hotter the water the more energy used, which is why taking the heat down a notch can help contribute to saving the planet. “You’re also benefitting your skin, too,” says Pfeffer. “Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and tight. If you can stand it, shower and cleanse in lukewarm water and, hot or cold, don’t keep the water running longer than it has to.”
Recycle your bathroom waste
Any beauty junkie will know the myriad plastic tubes and bottles they go through each year: “Most skincare products are now made from recyclable material but often get forgotten about when we split our rubbish. Check the packaging or get in touch with the brand to find out the best way to dispose of them,” recommends Pfeffer. Be aware of metal springs within products that are made with pumps – these need to be removed from plastic ahead of recycling.
Some brands also offer recycling services in store; Origins recycle cosmetic empties from any brand - all you need to do is bring them to counter, while the department store John Lewis is trialling a scheme that rewards customers for recycling beauty products with them with a R100 voucher.
And then there are brands that offer refill services. Neal’s Yard has recently launched a refill initiative in 10 of its stores, while Garnier has partnered with recycling giant, TerraCycle, to offer the UK’s first free recycling programme for bathroom waste. All you have to do is bring your waste to a local drop-off point – and it’s all for free.
If you really must use face wipes...
Make them biodegradable ones. The majority are made from materials like polyester, which means they will linger in landfills for up to 100 years. “They’re also really no good for your face and are unable to effectively remove all dirt and debris from the skin,” Pfeffer points out. “But if you can’t give them up for good, make sure you buy wipes made from compostable materials, such as plant fibres.” NIVEA’s new Biodegradable Cleansing Wipes are made from natural viscose and break down in 28 days.
[Via Vogue UK]