8 easy ways to make your beauty routine more eco-friendly
14 June 2021 | Aimee Tweedale
When it comes to building a sustainable beauty routine, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are more and more brands on the market with different definitions of eco-friendly make-up and skincare. But luckily, we’re here to let you know that when it comes to sustainable beauty: less is more!
Eco-friendly beauty doesn’t have to be complicated – and you can do it your way. It could be about dropping heat styling from your routine. Or it could mean swapping your single-use face wipes for a flannel.
Scaling back your daily beauty habits isn’t just good news for the planet. It could also save you time, energy, and money. Here are our top 8 easy tips for getting ready the greener way.
1. Give your hair a break from heat
Here at OVO, we’re always talking about ways to save energy at home. That’s because being energy-efficient isn’t just cheaper, but it also lowers the carbon footprint of your home. The less power we’re all using, the fewer fossil fuels are being burned to generate electricity.
That’s why cutting back on your hairdryer, straighteners, and other powered products is a great first step in building your sustainable beauty routine.
Using an average low-power hairdryer for 10 minutes each day would use 73 kWh over the course of a year. (Not sure what kWh means? Read all about it here.) If you stopped using it completely, you’d knock about £13.65 off your energy bills over the course of 12 months. More importantly, you’d also save around 26.8kg of carbon from being released into our atmosphere1. That’s about as much as you’d emit by driving halfway from Lands End to John o’Groats2.
Turning down the heat can also make your hair healthier, as heat causes your hair strands to break. Here’s the ironic part: healthier hair is likely to look good without heat styling! If you’re thinking about breaking up with your curling tongs, but you’d like to keep styling it, there are also lots of fun heat-free styling options to try.
For people with wavy or curly hair, ditching heat from your routine could really bring out your curls. You might even discover a curl pattern you didn’t know you had3!
2. Ditch the single-use face wipes
There’s a golden rule for being more sustainable in all areas of life: don’t buy things that are made to only be used once.
When it comes to sustainable skincare, the first step is getting rid of single-use wet-wipes. Even the UK government is cracking down on them, saying that they should soon be phased out.
Why? Because wet wipes are behind 93% of sewer blockages4. They’re also made of non-biodegradable plastic, meaning they’ll take hundreds of years to decompose. In the meantime, there’s so many of them clogging up the London Thames that they’ve formed their own riverbed5.
Cotton pads and cotton buds aren’t much better. Cotton takes a huge amount of water and pesticides to produce – and all that’s just so we can use them once, then chuck them in the bin. Plus, they’re not biodegradable, either6!
Instead of wipes, try a muslin face cloth with a gentle cleanser to remove your make-up. There are also eco-friendly alternatives to cotton pads and buds on the market, made from biodegradable materials. Even better are the reusable versions, which you can throw in the washing machine and keep using over and over again.
3. Get a water-saving eco shower head
As well as cutting down on electricity, saving water is a key part of being eco-friendly at home. In fact, the amount of water we use at home accounts for 5.5% of the UK’s carbon emissions7.
Eco-friendly shower heads are one way to make sure you’re only using as much water as you need when getting ready in the morning. You could also try washing your hair less often. The idea might strike fear into the hearts of some, but hear us out: if 1 in 4 people in the UK washed their hair once less per week, we could save 98,000 tonnes of carbon in a year. That’s the same as planting a whopping 16 million trees8!
Here are some more ideas for ways you could save water in your beauty routine:
- To extend the time you can go between hair washes, try using products like dry shampoo – but remember to go for an environmentally-friendly powder, rather than an aerosol
- Take shorter showers (multi-use products might help with this step – see below!)
- Bring a bucket or bowl into the shower you to catch any excess water – which you could then use for your skincare routine, or give to your plants!
- Remember to turn taps off while doing things like brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving – every little helps!
4. Research the ingredients of your favourite products
Of course, one of the major factors that makes beauty products sustainable is what they’re actually made of. To find out if your favourite beauty brands are really eco-friendly, check out their ingredient lists, and their websites. You could even reach out to a brand directly, to ask them what they’re doing to make their products more sustainable.
Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to the eco-friendliness of your skincare and make-up.
Are you using cruelty-free and/or vegan beauty products?
If you want to know that your beauty routine isn’t harming the environment, then you’ll probably also want to rest assured it isn’t harming any animals. Thankfully, vegan and cruelty-free make-up and skincare is becoming increasingly easy to get your hands on. After sales of vegan cosmetics shot up by 100% in 2017 alone9, many mainstream brands are extending their ranges to include vegan products.
To check whether your beauty products are vegan and cruelty-free, check the label. The leaping bunny logo is the gold standard for cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare.
Check out whether your favourite brand offers animal-friendly options over at Ethical Elephant.
Are the ingredients natural and organic?
Avoiding toxic chemicals is another key step to building a beauty routine that leaves no trace on the environment.
The brand Neal’s Yard is so committed to using natural ingredients that they even lobbied the government to ban microplastics and microbeads in skincare10. Other brands, like start-up Upcircle, use would-be waste products (like coffee grounds) for their skincare concoctions.
Is your sunscreen reef-safe?
Wearing sunscreen when you’re at the beach is a vital way to protect your skin. But did you know that your sunscreen could be damaging the beach itself?
Many sunscreens contain chemicals that, when they wash off our bodies and into the sea, pose a serious threat to sea life. Oxybenzone can kill coral, and cause serious damage to the creatures living in it11.
To avoid contributing to the problem, look for a reef-safe, mineral-based sunscreen. Check Save the Reef for a helpful list of ingredients to avoid.
5. Multi-task with all-in-one products
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: less is more!
The best way to build an eco-friendly beauty routine is to buy fewer products. With that in mind, lots of sustainable beauty brands are bringing out multi-use cosmetics that serve a few different purposes.
A cheek tint that doubles up as a lip tint isn’t just convenient, but it’ll also pull your whole look together (so you don’t need to stress about colour-matching).
Multi-tasking skincare products could also eliminate your need for an elaborate 10-step routine. Perhaps you could find a gentle moisturiser that works for your face, eyes, and lips. Or invest in an indulgent oil that you can dab all over your face, hair, and body!
6. Make your own beauty potions
The ultimate eco-friendly beauty product is one that you make yourself. After all, the result will be chemical-free, packaging-free, and it’ll use up anything you have left in your cupboards. Not to mention, it could be a fun activity to rope your friends or family into for an afternoon!
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Try your hand at this lavender body wash recipe from One Green Planet
- Get refreshed with a DIY coffee grounds face scrub from Pebble
- Check out Byrdie’s list of 10 homemade facial scrub recipes
- Or Hello Glow’s 8 ways to make a natural facial cleanser
7. Buy products in refillable packaging (or no packaging at all!)
Packaging is one of the beauty industry’s most shameful problems. So many of our favourite shampoos, body washes, deodorants, and more come in plastic containers. Why does this matter? Because not only does plastic guzzle fossil fuels during the production process, it also doesn’t decompose when we throw it away.
Each year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste makes its way into our oceans. To picture how much that is, imagine 5 rubbish bags full of plastic washing up on every foot of coastline around the entire world12.
Thankfully, more and more sustainable beauty brands are stepping up to offer recyclable packaging. Pro tip: get a recycling bin in your bathroom, to remind you to actually put your old containers in the right place. Many of us forget this step!
Some brands are going even further, by making sure that you can refill and reuse your packaging, rather than throw it. New eco-friendly brand Wild makes refillable deodorants in tins, and lipstick brand Axiology will refill your lippie tube with a new colour if you send it back to them. Vegan skincare brand REN, as part of their pledge to go totally plastic-free, have teamed up with zero-waste shop Loop to start offering versions of their products in refillable glass bottles.
On the high street, familiar beauty brands L’Occitane and Rituals also offer refillable versions of some of their most popular products. And Lush, that haven of rich scents, has long run its own recycling scheme. They also famously produce bath bombs, shampoo bars, and other packaging-free options.
8. Make use of natural light
Did you know that applying your make-up by the window, instead of under a lightbulb, can cut between 14 to 84g of carbon emissions per hour13? (That’s like the carbon equivalent of travelling half a mile on the London Underground14.)
That’s why our last (and by no means least!) eco-beauty tip is simple: do your make-up next to a window, instead of under a light.
This isn’t just an energy-saving tip. Natural light is widely recognised by beauty pros as being the best for make-up application. It’s soft yet bright, and shows you exactly what you’ll look like when you step outside your house. There’s no better way to avoid a shade-matching disaster!
Shrink your carbon footprint even more with OVO Greenlight
So: you’ve turned off the hairdryer, swapped your face wipes for a flannel, and simplified your beauty routine. What next?
Did you know that as much as 28% of your personal carbon footprint comes from how you use energy at home15?
By switching to OVO, with 100% renewable electricity as standard16, you could save as much as 1 tonne in carbon emissions per year17. Not to mention all the other perks:
- A tree planted in your name every single year you’re with us18
- An award-winning smart meter experience (Uswitch 2020)
- A £50 gift card every time you introduce a friend to us
You’ll also get access to OVO Greenlight: our free energy-saving tool for members.
With OVO Greenlight, you can see where exactly in your home you’re using the most energy. Plus, we use that data to come up with some carbon-kicking tips tailored specifically to you. Going green has never been easier!
Get a quote in less than 2 minutes, and join us on our journey to net zero carbon.
Sources and references:
8 Annual carbon saving of skipping on hair wash a week = 7.5kg CO2 (Source: Carbon Trust)
UK population of 52,351,213 adults (18 and over. Source: ONS)
A quarter of population = 13,087,803
The average grown tree absorbs 6 kg CO2 per year (Source: Carbon Trust)
13,087,803 population x 7.5 kgCO2 = 98158524 kgCO2
13,087,803 population x 7.5 kgCO2 / 6kgCO2 = 16,359,754 trees
13 Based on the average lounge (17.09m2) that requires 4,270lm, equivalent to 6 x 10W LED bulbs or 6 x 60W incandescent bulbs.
14 Emission calculation based on How Bad Are Bananas: the carbon footprint of everything by Mike Berners-Lee, where 1 mile on the London Underground emits 0.16kg of carbon dioxide
15 Based on analysis carried out by the Carbon Trust for OVO Group (2020), 28% of an average individual’s carbon footprint in the UK comes from energy. In this analysis, the carbon footprint includes the following lifestyle categories: energy, transport, shopping, food and drink and holidays. See table below for each category. This carbon footprint data has been calculated using BEIS 2020 emission factors. This excludes emissions from things that the average person cannot directly control such as supporting the NHS, defence, government bodies, etc. Please note these figures are not reflective of potential changes to your habits during the coronavirus pandemic.
16 100% of the renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates and how these work. A proportion of the electricity we sell is also purchased directly from renewable generators in the UK.
17 By switching to OVO Energy you could reduce your carbon footprint by up to 1 tonne of carbon per year. This is based on the carbon emissions caused in the production and consumption of the 100% renewable electricity OVO provides as standard, compared to the emissions caused by the production and consumption of UK grid average electricity. Average UK household energy consumption figures were sourced from BEIS (2019). The carbon emissions factors were calculated by the Carbon Trust.
18 Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.