Zero-Waste Makeup

Written by Ivy Zhang

Bubble wraps, boxes, and bottles from a couple of shopping trips will pile up in your closet and make you question your personal consumer choices. Buying organic beauty products with eco-friendly packaging is an easy step to sustainable living. There is no excuse for not making this transition since there are so many zero-waste makeup/personal care brands on the market.  

Each year, the beauty industry wastes around 129 billion units of packaging and they greatly contribute to marine plastic pollution. A zero-waste makeup product means there is no trash – all eco-friendly packaging gets either reused, recycled, or composted. Additionally, unlike plastic water bottles, most beauty product bottles can’t be recycled since the plastics used are not recyclable. Regardless, these plastic bottles go in the recycling bin way too often.  

Keys to a zero-waste makeup routine  

Buy Less 

Advertisements are constantly reminding us to buy the newest beauty products, however, you only really need a few zero-waste makeup products to look and feel good. The easiest way to reduce your environmental impact is by limiting your purchases to just the things you need.  

Products with eco-friendly packaging  

Look for products that come in either stainless steel tins or glass jars. Alternatively, opt for paper packaging with paper that is 100% recyclable. By spending a little more time researching before shopping, your zero-waste makeup routine will contribute to saving plastic-filled oceans.  

Use your own containers  

The best option for eco-friendly packaging is BYOMJ (Bring Your Own Mason Jar). That way, you can completely eliminate any packaging. Many brands allow customers to reuse the mason jars, glass bottles, etc. sitting in their pantries to be refilled with beauty products.  

Eco-friendly packaging for shipping  

Ideally, shopping in person locally can avoid all shipping packaging completely. However, it may be difficult to find zero-waste makeup brands depending on where you are. Alternatively, stick with online retailers like Package Free who ship everything with materials that are 100% recyclable and compostable.  

Look out for the ingredients  

Even though eco-friendly packaging has been heavily emphasized in this article, sustainable ingredients are as important. Most beauty products sitting on your vanity are full of an ingredient called petrochemicals – chemical substances obtained from petroleum and natural gas. While they do not directly impact a zero-waste lifestyle, they negatively influence your health.  

Zero-Waste Makeup Packaging
Zero-Waste Makeup Packaging

Zero-waste makeup essentials 

Reusable facial round 

replacing disposable makeup removal pad 

Washable facial rounds made of materials including organic cotton/flannel, hemp, or bamboo. To avoid makeup stains, opt for black or dark shades.  

Silk Dental Floss 

replacing handheld, single-use floss 

While it is difficult to reuse floss, compostable silk is a great alternative to limit plastic waste. Dental Lace sells Silk Dental Floss in refillable glass containers with stainless steel caps.  

Diva Cup 

replacing pads and tampons 

Pads and tampons use non-biodegradable plastic applicators and linings that can easily overfill landfills. Making the switch from pads and tampons to Diva Cups is a better choice for the environment.  

Clay or cream mask 

replacing sheet mask 

Sheet masks are the new plastic straws – they are single-used and are often wrapped in plastic. Clay or cream masks that come in eco-friendly packaging are notably more environmentally friendly than sheet masks.  

Zero-waste makeup brands 

Ethique – A company that sells natural solid bars as an alternative to bottled shampoos and conditioners. In an effort to prevent generating plastic waste, all their ingredients as well as eco-friendly packaging are biodegradable. 

Dab Herb Makeup – A “Nature to Nurture” zero-waste makeup brand with only food-grade, organic, cruelty-free, and vegan ingredients. Their eco-friendly packaging consists of glass jars (lids included) and compostable cardboard sticks. 

Meow Meow Tweet – A vegan skincare company that sells zero-waste products such as skin repair balms, skin exfoliants, and soaps in eco-friendly packaging using glass jars or hand wrapped in PCW paper. 

Making the transition from using common beauty products to eliminating plastic packaging can be intimidating at first, especially all you see on the Sephora shelves are plastic palettes and plastic squeeze bottles. It takes time to search for zero-waste makeup/personal care brands but the results will be worth the efforts. Buying less and being more environmentally conscious with our next beauty purchase is a tangible step we can take to get started on our journey to zero-waste living.  

Author’s bio 

Ivy Zhang is a rising senior at the University of Toronto and a digital marketing intern at TLC Platforms Inc.

She is currently working in a passionate team of eco-friendly individuals to develop an app named Eco-prints. Designed with the intention to foster a community for environmentalists, Eco-prints thrives to bring together an eco-conscious community and support a sustainable lifestyle. 

To learn more about sustainable living and how to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, visit our homepage.


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