Mother Earth Living

A Green Makeover for Your Skin Care Regimen

Change your skin care regimen to be more environmentally friendly.
By Amy Korst
May 2013
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Try to find products in a glass jar or a recyclable bottle and use your own washable cloth to apply the product to your face.
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Learn how to generate less trash and live a healthier and more sustainable life in The Zero-Waste Lifestyle (Ten Speed Press, 2012). Author Amy Korst offers hundreds of ideas for throwing away less in all aspects of your life. In this excerpt taken from chapter seven, “The Zero-Waste Bathroom,” find out how your skin care regimen can be more eco-friendly.

You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: The Zero-Waste Lifestyle.

Skin care is another huge arm of the cosmetics industry. Americans spent $33.3 billion on cosmetics in 2010, and a good chunk of this was in lotions and potions designed to give us smoother, younger-looking skin. Among the skin care products available to us: antiaging serums, wrinkle removers, UV protection creams, cleansers, moisturizers, scrubs, and toners. Whether these products really work to make our skin appear younger and healthier is debatable, but they sell like wildfire because they make us feel younger and healthier. What to do if you want to pamper your skin and the planet, too?

Avoid facial cloths: As much as possible, avoid any single-use cloths designed to scrub your face or remove makeup. They are treated with chemicals, which means that after you use them, they are garbage. Instead, try to find a similar product in a glass jar or a recyclable bottle. Use your own washable cloth to apply the product to your face.

Avoid scrubbing microbeads unless your product specifically says they are derived from natural ingredients: Most exfoliators, which are touted as the perfect way to slough off dead skin cells, are actually made from plastic. That’s right, those little microbeads, used to gently scrub your face, are tiny particles of polyethylene that are washed right down the drain and into our waterways. Some companies do use natural exfoliating ingredients such as walnut shells; these are A-OK.

Check the packaging: As with anything else you bring into your zero-waste home, make sure the packaging is recyclable before you buy it. We know that plastic isn’t great, but if you have to buy skin care products, buy them in recyclable bottles. Look for number 1 and 2 plastic containers, glass jars, and cardboard boxes. Steer clear of foil-plastic composite pouches (like those that single-use face masks come in) or anything else made from mixed materials.

Use as few products as possible: Ask yourself whether your skin care regimen really needs to involve more than four or five steps. Perhaps there are one or two products you can part with. Remember the principle of reduce—can one product do the job instead of two?

Take it from me, skin care does not have to involve as many steps as today’s skin care lines would have us believe. I had notoriously bad skin as a teenager, but today my skin care routine consists of bar soap in the shower, a dab of blemish cream at night as needed, and a moisturizer/sunscreen combo cream each morning.

More Zero-Waste Bathroom Tips

• Eco-Friendly Makeup Options
3 Types of Natural Deodorant
• Natural Hair Care

For more from The Zero-Waste Lifestyle, check out the article: Zero-Waste Lifestyle: The Bathroom

Reprinted with permission from The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: Live Well by Throwing Away Less by Amy Korst and published by Ten Speed Press, 2012. Buy this book from our store: The Zero-Waste Lifestyle.


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