Sustainable hygiene products have only very recently become available to the mass. For years, plastic – together with not-so-eco-friendly ingredients – has permeated every corner of the beauty industry. But, as the tide begins to turn, sustainable hygiene is becoming more and more accessible.
Following our previous article on how to have an eco-friendly house as part of our ultimate guide to sustainability series, we’ll be taking a look at personal hygiene. This guide will include all of the top tips to transform your beauty routine into a more eco-friendly one, one step at a time. We’ll be moving through skincare, haircare, dental hygiene, and sanitary products!
Lush is sustainable hygiene’s leading brand
Everyone has heard of Lush. From their beautiful packaging right down to the incredible scents wafting out of the high street doors, we’ve all come across this brand. Luckily for us, they’re committed to sustainable hygiene. Whether you love short hairstyles or long ones, they have the perfect sustainable shampoo for you!
Additionally, they never test on animals. Their products are top quality and they have a crystal-clear environmental policy. Every ingredient they use in a product is clearly listed on the outside of the box.
If you’re trying to avoid one particular ingredient, Lush makes it easy to do so! Even the packaging they use is environmentally conscious, although their aim is to improve even further in the coming years. Many of their products come without packaging, and much of the plastic they use is 90% recycled!
However, the downside to these brands is their price. Lush is on the expensive side, meaning that not all of us can afford to buy all of our day-to-day products in their stores. So, how can we be sustainable without breaking the bank?
Sustainable hygiene doesn’t have to be expensive
Instead of going straight for the market leaders like Lush, let’s talk about some alternatives. One of the best ways to cut down on the amount of plastic you’re using in a beauty routine is to change up the products. If you walk into your bathroom right now, there is likely to be a lot of plastic bottles.
Luckily for us, you can now get shampoo and conditioners in bars. Instead of throwing out plastic bottle after plastic bottle, switch to a bar! They last a long time, smell great, and tend to come in a cardboard box, which is normally completely recyclable. There are plenty of brands and options out there. This list of best shampoo bars is a great place to start.
If a bar isn’t for you, try using a refillable eco-friendly shampoo and conditioner service. Even small changes will help you cut down on plastic use!
Toothpaste and facewash
Many kinds of toothpaste and facewash brands use micro-plastics in their products. Micro-plastics are non-biodegradable and almost impossible to remove. They litter the ocean after they go down our bathroom sinks. Shockingly, there are 8.3 million pieces of micro-plastic in a typical cubic meter of ocean water.
When searching for toothpaste and face wash, make sure to avoid products that have ingredients that start with ‘poly-‘. That is normally a signifier of the presence of micro-plastics. Another way of telling is to download ‘Beat the Microbead’ app. By scanning the barcode of a product, it will signal if this brand uses micro-plastics in their products.
There is a misconception that micro-beads are the best way to exfoliate your skin. Luckily for us, there are actually a number of natural alternatives. Used coffee grounds and crushed up walnut shells are frequently employed in skincare. What’s more, you could even opt for making your own face wash from some of these products. It really doesn’t get more natural than that!
Another common misconception about skincare is that you need a harsh barrage of skin-care products. In reality, since Victorian times, people have been taking care of their skin using the bare minimum. One fantastic option if you want to go for a simple routine would be to use rosewater and glycerin twice daily. You can buy the products and then mix them yourself!
If you use disposable cotton pads, consider switching to machine washable cotton pads. Or, switch back to the old fashioned way of using a flannel! You can also replace any plastic cotton buds with eco-friendly alternatives.
Sustainable hygiene: moisturisers and sun creams
Many lip balms are petroleum jelly based. Petroleum jelly is a by-product of the oil extraction process. Obviously, fossil fuels aren’t sustainable. Considering this jelly is a by-product, it means it would otherwise go to waste. While this is a bit of a grey area, there are ways to get around the problem completely.
If you’re looking for a day-to-day moisturiser, Boot’s Botanics range is cruelty-free, suitable for vegans, and sourced from sustainable ingredients! They even take steps at every single stage of the product journey to reduce their environmental impact. Even though it’s cheaper, the product performs just as well as brands that charge several times more!
If you’re spending time in the sun (oh, sunny, sunny England) and need some sun cream, there are a few sustainable approaches. The Independent has compiled a list of the best eco-friendly sunscreens currently available in the UK. These mitigate the harmful effect that sun cream can have on marine life.
Razors and shaving
In 2018, 163 million customers used disposable razors in the US alone. Think about the sheer quantity of non-biodegradable waste that produces! We can turn the tide on these wasteful practices by moving towards electric or straight razors.
Let’s not forget about the good, old straight razors. These are made from natural materials and are also more efficiently packaged! If you find these hard to get the hang of, check out some of these reusable safety razors.
Sustainable hygiene when it comes to sanitary products
Just like razors, lots of disposable tampons are used every year. One report found that 5.8 billion disposable tampons were purchased in the US in 2018 alone. All of these products head straight to landfill thanks to the plastic interwoven into modern products. Each of these takes a shocking 500 years to decompose.
Thankfully, there is a range of alternative options. A more eco-friendly way to tackle menstruation is to use a menstrual cup. Not only are these better for the environment, but they could also save you a whole lot of money!
If you prefer pads, you could switch to washable cloth pads. They’re reusable, and therefore more eco-friendly over the long run. While you’d be correct to assume that there is more of an upfront cost, this calculator demonstrates how you’ll save money in the long run.
Interested in this option? Luckily, you can even get a free cloth pad to try out here. If you want to take this a step further, consider trying out period pants. There are several different options to try out!
Hygiene is important. Frustratingly, it can even be pretty expensive. Nevertheless, by switching to a more sustainable form of hygiene, we can ensure that our practices are, at least, non-harmful to the planet. And, in many cases, cheaper than their non-sustainable counterparts.
Let us know in the comments down below if you have any more tips for a sustainable hygiene routine!