Reading Time: 5 min

My Skincare Addiction

“10 STEP KOREAN SKINCARE ROUTINE” (https://youtu.be/Yqt-hqZ66GY)

“K-POP STAR TIFFANY YOUNG’S 18-STEP BEAUTY ROUTINE” (https://youtu.be/hKTIYo3X5mI)

“IRENE KIM’S 25-STEP KOREAN BEAUTY ROUTINE” (https://youtu.be/3I67ilgsYmQ)

And these are only some of a plethora of videos that I consume on a daily basis regarding skincare and beauty.

Hi, my name is Danielle Lim, and I am an addict –

A skincare addict that is.

Ever since I was a young girl, I was fascinated by beauty and skincare routines by famous celebrities, YouTubers, and influencers. How did they get that perfect “glass skin”? Free of blemishes and pimples. What new product could get rid of my own acne? Was it this new moisturizer with Aloe Vera gel? Or was it this company’s line of skincare where the ingredients are hand-picked by monks? (Yes, something like that actually exists). Are 10 steps enough? What about 20? Regardless of what it was, for the past few years, I have tried countless products and spent a ridiculous amount of money trying to somehow make my skin pimple-free.

Today, I’m going to discuss my revelation about my skincare routine, the current impact the beauty industry has on our environment, and my tips in trying to become zero-waste in beauty.

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

The Revelation

One day, I was trying out a new toner with a magic ingredient called “Witch Hazel”, which is said to be the cure to acne. I reached for a cotton pad and realized I had run out. I sighed and took out a new package of 100 cotton rounds that I had purchased at Costco. I took a cotton round, soaked it in the toner solution and swiped the cotton pad on my face, hoping my skin would absorb the liquid and somehow make my blemishes disappear. I then promptly tossed the used cotton pad in the trash bin and continued on with my skincare routine.

But something made me stop and look at my trash.

I looked and realized that it was basically filled with just cotton rounds. I took a moment to think. The toner I had said that recommended use was twice a day. That means once in the morning and once at night, I would take a disposable cotton pad, use it for about 15 seconds, and then toss it. My pack of 100 cotton pads would last me about 1.7 months, not including times when I use more than 2 cotton rounds a day. Meaning, over the course of one year, I would use more than 700 cotton rounds and send them to the trash. 

It just didn’t sit well with me thinking about how much trash I was producing from one step of my skincare routine alone. I did some major reflection and I wondered about all the other empty products I used over the years. How much trash was I responsible for just the sake of my personal beauty routine? After having this revelation, I made a promise to begin to take steps in reducing my waste from my own beauty routines as much as I could. 

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

The Current Impact

From the cosmetic industry alone, over 129 billion units of packaging are wasted every year. According to an article by National Geographic, “the amount of plastic packaging on U.S. products (not just on personal care items) has increased by over 120 times since 1960—with almost 70 percent of that waste piling up in landfills. Globally, the packaging industry for beauty and personal care products, which primarily reflects plastic packaging, makes up nearly $25 billion in sales.”

The easy thought to think is “Why don’t we just recycle the plastic?” But the dirty truth about recycling is that although you can put that plastic bottle in the blue bin, often times it just makes it to the landfill. The recycling process is expensive, and more often than not, it is just cheaper to produce virgin plastic than to create plastic from recycled products.

So, the question is how do we as a society attempt to become more sustainable? After some research, here are the steps that I am currently taking to make my beauty routine less wasteful.

Tips to Reduce Beauty Waste

Using Reusable Cotton Pads

Before taking any steps in reducing you waste, I recommend that everyone analyze their trash to see what they throw away the most. For me, that was cotton pads. So, the natural first step for me was buying reusable ones. I purchased mine from Etsy. That way, not only do I not have to buy cotton pads ever again, I was also helping to support a small business.

Cheek’s Ahoy Reusable Facial Rounds

Using Bar Beauty

What is Bar Beauty you ask? It is the solution to the packaging conundrum! Products like shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and moisturizers are often in a liquid form which calls for excess packaging. However, products in the form of a solid easily reduce excess packaging and are significantly more environmentally friendly in the long run. Yes, it may take some getting used to in the beginning, but these products work just as well as their counterparts.

Lush Cosmetic’s ‘Naked’ line sell’s products that are package-free. This includes shampoo bars, hair conditioner, body moisturizer, bath bombs, and even deodorant. My personal favourite is the ‘Seanik’ shampoo bar; and the best thing is that it lasts up to 80 washes! So now there’s no need to deal with plastic bottles for the shower anymore.

Lush’s Seanik Shampoo Bar

Shopping Clean Beauty

Maybe you don’t want to take the plunge and immediately go for the organic, zero-waste, toothpaste tablets you see at Whole Foods. (Yes, these also exist). A good first step is to shop clean beauty. There are countless companies that are taking steps into being mindful of the environment when creating their products by not using any harmful ingredients, using sustainable packaging, and being cruelty-free.

Here are some notable brands that I personally like:

  • NOTO Botanics: is a beauty company focused on sustainability and inclusivity, using natural and organic ingredients in their makeup and skincare. From their packing list to their shipping, NOTO ensures sustainable and recyclable materials are used.
  • Buck Naked Soap Company: a Canadian soap company that uses natural ingredients, limited packaging, and are cruelty-free and vegan. Their products include bar soaps, bath bombs, hair care, shaving products, and even candles. They also have partnered with WE Charity to support clean water initiatives in Kenya!
  • The Soap Works: a family-owned, Canadian soap company that focuses natural, package-free soap products. All of their bars are hand cut and they have a high environmental focus in their company!

Now let’s be realistic. I don’t expect anyone to go immediately package free or zero-waste immediately because it is extremely difficult and takes extreme dedication. But taking one step is as good as any. I encourage everyone to even try changing on step in your routines to see how you can be more sustainable. So do your research, find what inspires you, and don’t forget to feel great in the process. Good luck! 

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