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Zero Waste Skincare Is Quite Possible, Here’s How You Can Start

For starters, did you know that glitter which counts as a kind of micro-plastic, does no favours for ocean and everything in it?

We hear a lot about cutting waste in other parts of our lives: use less paper in the office, cut down on food wastage, bring your own containers for take-out, recycle what you cannot refuse. However, when it comes to beauty and skincare, these principles that we’ve known since childhood seem to float to the subconscious mind.

The environmental impact of the beauty industry might be larger than you think. Think about the cotton pads used for toning. The daily sheet masks and the plastic foil it comes in. The throngs of empty glass and plastic bottles and jars that once held moisturising creams, serums and oils. The glitter in eyeshadows. The micro beads in exfoliants. The oxybenzone in sunscreens. It’s nuts how pervasive it is.

But, like dealing with waste in other parts of our lives, skincare routines are not an exception. While the ideal goal is going completely zero-waste, realistically speaking, it’s really about trying to create the least amount of trash possible. It’s not easy and there will be compromises, but it’s all part and parcel of being environmentally conscious. Over the course of turning my skincare routine toward the zero-waste life – I’m not there, but I’m trying – I learned a couple of things on how to do it. Join me?


1. Microbeads Are Micro Killers

In the past two years, there has been a spotlight placed onto the harmful uses of microbeads. You know the stuff that exfoliates and smoothens your skin? Yeah, those go into the oceans and then, into marine life. Microplastics like these make up for 85 percent of plastic found in the environment. Thankfully, Singapore’s local drugstores have taken measures to remove any products that contain the hazardous beads from their shelves, but do look out for it if you’re shipping any exfoliants from overseas.


2. All That Glitters Is Plastic

Okay, this one we’re crying over. We’re mad for glitter (if the cover image above isn’t clear enough). Just like microbeads, glitter  is microplastic and washes into the ocean and escape filtration systems because of how small they are. But, wait! Eco-friendly glitter exists! Brands like LushEco Stardust, Festival Face and Bioglitz are a few brands who use synthetic yet biodegradable alternatives you can buy from and shine responsibly. Let’s hope everyone else follows suit, slowly but surely.


3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The three Rs may seem said to death, but that is only because they are as true as it gets. The fact remains that plastic is the go-to for almost every beauty company. An easy, direct way to counter this is to support makeup brands that use glass for their packaging or maybe even going so far as to DIY your own product. Think about refillable products, or brands that allow you to return used packaging for rewards, like M.A.C., Lush and Kiehl’s, or simply drop your used containers and sachets into the recycling bin. Even the simple act of declining a paper bag for your single bottle of serum at the store counts.


4. You Don’t Need Cotton Pads

Wait, what? Then, what do we use to remove our makeup? Switch to an oil-based one, or any that works like a regular face cleanser, so you can use it in the shower – convenient, efficient and you save some dollars – or make your own cotton pads. If you’re not crafty or simply don’t have the time, there’s always Etsy, or just try your best to use less. If you find yourself gravitating back, remember that cotton – this includes most sheet masks – is completely biodegradable and 100 percent compostable. Consider buying a compost bin, or making one under $20.


5. Watch What You Wash Down The Drain

Synthetic fragrances and parabens aren’t just bad for your skin and health, it’s bad for the environment when it gets washed into rivers, lakes and then, the ocean, so keep a look out for what goes into the ingredient list of your purchases. Stay away from oxybenzone (a chemical commonly found in sunscreen) as well as it’s destroying the world’s coral reefs. Natural, organic beauty products aren’t just fluff for hippies. If you’re looking to make the switch, more and more environmentally-conscious beauty brands are joining the market: Rahua, Aesop, LushKahina Giving Beauty and Tata Harper are just a few that we’re already familiar with.

What To Read Next: We Put This Chemical-Free Cult Japanese Beauty Brand To The TestThe Five Ingredients That SHOULDN’T Be In Your Beauty Routine and These Are The Natural Beauty Products That Aren’t All Talk | Cover Image: Natalyn Chan 

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