7 habits to ditch if you want to embrace the clean beauty trend

Adopting a clean beauty approach doesn’t have to be complicated. Green up your beauty routine with these simple sustainable swaps.

Once a difficult task due to a lack of options, transitioning to clean beauty has never been easier, thanks to a growing range of eco-friendly make-up and skincare products on the market.

Everything from re-usable cotton pads and biodegradable face wipes to refillable make-up and skin care is helping to reduce our carbon footprint.

But for many people, eco-friendly beauty goes beyond sustainability – it also embraces the complementary movement of “clean beauty”.

Here are seven habits to ditch if you want to embrace a clean beauty approach.

So, what is ‘clean beauty’?

New Zealand make-up artist Amy McLennan is a sustainable beauty advocate who is passionate about clean beauty.

While the term doesn’t have a linear definition, it usually refers to avoiding certain ingredients linked to skin irritation.

Amy has adapted her professional kit to consist of cruelty-free, ethical, natural and organic make-up.

“Sustainability and organic ingredients have always been important to me in my food and lifestyle, so it was a natural progression for me to take it into my profession,” Amy says.

“When I first became interested in clean beauty seven years ago, I wondered if it was possible to be a commercial make-up artist and still get results with clean beauty, and it turns out you can.”

As the sustainable beauty sector continues to grow, major beauty brands such as Garnier and Maybelline are hopping aboard by adapting their products to be more eco-friendly.

How to adopt a sustainable approach to beauty

From sustainable ingredients to planet-friendly packaging, there are a number of things to consider when moving to clean beauty.

“Certifications are essential because that’s what gives consumers the confidence they’re buying something that is clean and eco-friendly,” Amy says.

“I also suggest they pay close attention to company policies on recycling and sustainability – when shopping for make-up and skin care, do some research and ask around to identify which brands are promoting themselves as clean.”

Also, before purchasing, consider a product’s shelf life and its recyclability, Amy suggests.

Canadian beauty journalist and content creator Joëlle Paquette has interviewed a variety of clean beauty experts, educators and entrepreneurs over the past 12 years.

“Those discussions really opened my eyes about the ingredients and packaging used in beauty,” Joëlle says.

“I also became more aware of how packaging is made, where it goes once discarded, and the sheer amount of waste that it creates – and a desire to offset this is one of the reasons I decided to embrace sustainable beauty.”

Switching all of your products at once can be overwhelming and costly. Joëlle says a more realistic approach is to use your existing products first, and choose eco-friendly alternatives when it comes time to replace them.

7 easy eco-friendly beauty swaps

Keen to adopt eco-friendly beauty practices?

Try these easy swaps to kick things off – Joëlle encourages you to start with one sustainable habit at a time:

1. Instead of disposable face wipes, choose eco pads

Not only are eco make-up remover pads soft on the skin, they can be washed and re-used hundreds of times.

On the other hand, disposable wipes are a big contributor to landfill globally.

According to a 2021 review in the Environmental Challenges journal, it can take up to 100 years for them to decompose.

Choosing reusable, such as Swisspers Earth Kind Reusable Eco Cleansing Pads, has the potential to have a big impact on waste reduction.

2. Instead of cute minis, buy bulk-sized staples

Beauty minis have surged in popularity since the BeautyTok skincare craze caught the attention of tweens.

But beyond the cuteness factor and their usefulness when travelling, skincare and make-up minis aren’t exactly practical, nor are they good for the environment.

When it comes to sustainability and cost-effectiveness, bigger is actually better.

Our experts suggest seeking out bulk-sized versions of your beauty staples in addition to refillable options, to avoid packaging being thrown out unnecessarily.

If you’re travelling, opt for re-usable mini containers, which can be filled with whatever existing products you have in your beauty cabinet.

3. Instead of buying viral products, sleep on it

BeautyTok may have reinvigorated the beauty industry, but it’s also influencing buys that aren’t necessarily suitable for everyone.

Next time you’re being swayed, research the product first.

Look into how sustainable the brand is, as well as its recyclability.

Consider whether it’s a product you are lacking in your current beauty inventory and would benefit from.

If you’re still on the fence, another option is to get a product sample to trial it before you buy it.

4. Instead of building your beauty range, use up what you have

A sizeable beauty collection might look pleasing to the eye but, in reality, it’s not eco-friendly – or even practical, given the short shelf-life of many skincare and make-up items once opened.

It’s more eco-friendly to work your way through your collection before adding to it.

Always prioritise the items with the shortest remaining use-by date, and replace items as you go.

5. Instead of single-use liquid shampoo and conditioner bottles, choose refillable

Look after your locks and do your bit for the planet with refillable aluminium options.

With approximately 75 per cent of aluminium ever produced still in use today, refillable canisters, such as Schwarzkopf Sustainable Colour Shampoo, offer a sustainable and cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for plastic bottles.

6. Instead of single-use plastic, choose biodegradable

Bamboo is a sustainable material because it grows quickly, is biodegradable, and is naturally antimicrobial.

Choosing a bamboo toothbrush significantly reduces plastic waste, as millions of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills and oceans every year.

Bamboo handles can be composted at the end of their life, further minimising environmental impact.

Products made from plant-based ingredients, such as Manicare Tools Biodegradable Make Up Sponge Blender, also offer an eco-friendly alternative to plastic.

7. Instead of aerosol hair sprays, consider non-aerosol pump sprays or hair mists

Aerosol cans often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can contribute to air pollution.

Non-aerosol alternatives provide a more environmentally friendly option, with many brands offering natural ingredient formulations.

More on clean, eco-friendly beauty:

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.