Conscious Consumerism: Creating a More Sustainable Beauty Routine

February 3, 2023

Sustainability, as a movement, has been gaining momentum steadily over the past few years. In 2020, according to Lyst’s 2020 Concious Fashion report, the term ‘slow fashion’ created more than 90 million social impressions. This suggests a new shift in shopping behaviours, as the movement is encouraging consumers to shop more mindfully, in a way that is kinder to the planet.

However, an area which often gets overlooked is a personal beauty routine. For example, Euromonitor International claimed that 152.1 billion units of beauty products were sold in 2018 alone. Sadly, only a very small proportion of these were recyclable.

By making more eco-friendly switches in your own routine, it is possible to change the general shift in consumer habits, and larger companies will become more accountable in creating a greener future in beauty.

Here are a few ideas for a small number of changes you can easily implement in your own routine over time:

Have a one in, one out system

This is a really useful rule to have in the back of your mind when shopping, whether that be for a beauty product, or for a new piece to add to your wardrobe. Essentially, if you run out of a mascara, you can buy a new one. However, if you already have an eyeshadow palette, for example, and you find yourself wanting to buy a new one, consider repurposing the old one. Giving products that you don’t necessarily need or want to a friend is a great way for them to have extra life. Alternatively, if you haven’t used a product very much, there are websites where people are keen to buy makeup second hand. Although, items like mascara shouldn’t be shared because it increases risk of eye infection.

Multi-use products

This is a much more cost-effective way of having a more minimal beauty routine. You can use products for more than just what they are sold to you as. For example, lipstick can be used as blush, matte eyeshadow powder can be used for eyebrows, and, if you have a thin angled brush, you can use the product in a mascara tube as eyeliner. If you stretch the uses of products, you require fewer items, and you are more likely to finish the product before it goes out of date too!

Reusable packaging

Reusable packing is a great way to have minimal wastage so that fewer units end up in landfill. More brands have started creating refill products where you buy the initial packaging but then only need to buy refills after that. Not only does this mean that there is less plastic which ends up being thrown away, but it also works out much cheaper in the long term because much of the cost of a makeup item is the packaging.

You can also use reusable items instead of disposables. For example, you can buy reusable cotton pads that you pop in the wash with your clothes after each use. This, again, works out cheaper for you long term, and it is much kinder to the planet.

Vegan and cruelty free

There are lots of benefits that come with using vegan products. Firstly, if it is an entirely vegan brand, they typically go to greater lengths to make sure that the product is sustainable. Secondly, the ingredients, in most cases, naturally occur in nature which means that fewer resources in laboratories are used or equipment for extracting materials.

It is also important to mention, however, that the most sustainable thing you can do is use up the products you currently have before switching to cruelty free or vegan products.

Make a Wishlist

Often, I find that a Wishlist helps me to shop more mindfully and prevent me from impulse purchases. If there is something that I decide I want/need I will pop it on a list on my phone and if it is still there a few months later then I will consider buying it. I review the list fairly regularly and I find myself taking off a lot of items which I do not feel that I need anymore. This approach has helped me to spend longer researching an item too.

A more individualised approach

Finally, a more individualised approach to your beauty routine is another way which you can prevent wastage. For example, you can buy single eyeshadow pans and create your own personalised eyeshadow palette. In this way, you know that you’ll use every single shade because the selection process will have been a deliberate and mindful process.

While change can sometimes be overwhelming, the benefits of being a more conscious consumer are numerous, both for you, your bank account, and most importantly, for the planet. 

Ellie Miller