My 4 major ZERO waste beauty swaps

After nearly 18 months on this zero waste journey, I’ve come to the conclusion that beauty products present the most challenges.

Finding great products that actually work, in environmentally friendly packaging, that are preferably certified organic, has seen me sample a multitude of different lotions and potions.

It’s also been the area where I’ve sunk the most coin – trying out all those cleansers, moisturisers and lip balms can quickly add up. If a product hasn’t delivered for me though, I still use it until it’s finished to avoid being wasteful (even if that means using a lip balm I haven’t found nourishing enough for dry lips as a hand cream).

Here are my four major non-toxic, zero waste beauty swaps. I’ve included what I used to use every day (before I discovered what’s really in those mainstream beauty products), what I now use in place of them, and also where it sits on the “waste-o-metre”.

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Facial cleanser

What I always used: Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion (nasties include: cetrimonium bromide, disodium EDTA… among others)

What I now use: Certified organic extra virgin olive oil

Waste-o-metre: Zero waste – I purchase this in bulk from Source Bulk Foods.

Rubbing cooking oil on your face, I hear you ask?! Okay, stick with me. It took a bit of convincing for me to switch from a formulated cleanser to using extra virgin olive oil as a facial cleanser, but honestly, I’ve never looked back.

I have quite dry skin so I love using oils on my face (I use Rosehip oil as a facial moisturiser), but I understand that if you’re used to a cream it may take some adjustment. The oil does absorbs very quickly though and I wipe away any remnants in the shower with an Exfoliating Organic Muslin Cloth from Pai, so it’s not like the grease follows me out of the shower.

Using olive oil as a cleanser removes make-up, won’t strip your skin of its natural oils and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Apparently actress Chloë Grace Moretz is also a fan of the olive oil cleanser: “I swear my skin is so much clearer because of it,” Moretz told Allure magazine in 2016.

Almond, apricot, avocado, coconut and jojoba oils are other great oils you can use to cleanse your face, but good ‘ol olive oil seems to do the trick for me.

Keep aluminium cans out of landfill by using tapioca flour instead of dry shampoo.

Keep aluminium cans out of landfill by using tapioca flour instead of dry shampoo.

Dry shampoo

What I always used: Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (nasties include: Isobutane, aluminium starch octenylsuccinate, fragrance (parfum)… among others)

What I now use: Tapioca flour

Waste-o-metre: Zero waste – I purchase this in bulk from Source Bulk Foods.

This is a beauty “product” I wish I’d discovered the moment dry shampoo came on my radar back in 2015… I would’ve saved myself so much money and the world wouldn’t have seen quite so many aerosol cans go to landfill (I used to go through a can a month).

Now, I simply tip a small amount of tapioca flour into the palm of my hands, rub them together and then lightly pat the oily parts of my hair. I let it sit for a few minutes and then brush it out. If I’ve had to apply more flour than usual (if it’s been a few days between washes) then I’ll add extra powder, brush my hair and then blast with a hairdryer to eliminate that powdery look.

Suitable for babies and sensitive skin types.

Suitable for babies and sensitive skin types.

Body wash

What I always used: Dove Triple Moisturising Body Wash (nasties include: sodium laureth sulfate, BHT, fragrance… among others)

What I now use: Mokosh Handmade Organic Olive Oil soap (ingredients: olive oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) and rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract).

Waste-o-metre: Zero waste – the paper goes in our worm farm

Mokosh’s soaps are super luxurious and come wrapped in paper, which I either add to our worm bin or, as the print on the paper is so pretty, repurpose into gift tags.

It’s important to store the soap in a soap dish with drainage holes so it can dry out between uses, otherwise it can become somewhat slimy and you’ll go through bars much quicker.

Tapioca flour does double duty as both dry shampoo and a face powder to help illuminate shine.

Tapioca flour does double duty as both dry shampoo and a face powder to help illuminate shine.

Face powder

What I always used: L’Oreal True Match Cream Powder (nasties include: talc, dimethicone… among others)

What I now use: Tapioca flour

Waste-o-metre: Zero waste – I purchase this in bulk from Source Bulk Foods.

I use just a teeny, tiny amount of tapioca flour to take the “shine” off my face.

Just dip a wide makeup brush into your pot of flour, tap gently on the side of the pot to shake off the majority of it and dust away.