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Ideas for low-waste cosmetics

Interested in living a low-waste lifestyle but also enjoy wearing make-up? Rethinking what you buy, wear, and perhaps make yourself, can result in less waste while not sacrificing your look.

Reduce what you use

  • Packaging for cosmetics is often not recyclable because it is either too small for the sorting facilities to capture or composed of more than one material type.
  • Cosmetics do expire, so having an extensive selection of makeup inevitably leads to waste. Reduce your cosmetic waste by simplifying what you use. For example, limit what you have on hand to one or two shades of products like eyeliner, lipstick, or nail polish.

Make your own or use less-waste options

  • Making your own cosmetics eliminates packaging waste and reduces the number of ingredients for those with sensitivities. There are many DIY recipes online on places like Pinterest for lip stains and balms, mascara, blush, and eyeliner.
  • If DIY isn’t your thing, buy products in reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging, including metal, cardboard and glass containers. Many brands offer refills for items like eyeshadow, foundation, and lipstick, which reduce waste and cost less. Additionally, some companies, including Aveda, Kiehl’s, Lush, MAC Cosmetics and Origins, have packaging take-back programs.

Makeup removal

Skip the packaged facial wipes and cotton pads and use washable cloths or a natural sponge instead. Try using olive or coconut oil to aid in removal.