Reduce, Reusable Beauty, and Recycle
Feature Image: Take My Face Off
With an ever-expanding need to preserve our environment, companies and individuals alike have been making strides to become more environmentally conscious, and this shift to being more green has infiltrated the beauty industry by means of the reusable beauty movement. But what is reusable beauty? According to Amanda McIntosh, founder of Take My Face Off, “reusable beauty is anything that tries to replace what we have in our existing beauty arena with something that works better or lasts longer.” As a result, most reusable beauty materials result in a more environmentally-friendly product. And while many of us partake in the beauty industry in various ways, some of the products we accept as ‘normal’ or ‘fine’ are detrimental to the environment. When you think about it—though affordable tools for removing or applying product—cotton balls and swabs are examples of convenient, yet wasteful single-use items. One of the easiest ways to have a green beauty routine would be to eliminate or, at the very least, reduce how much you use single-use items.
Another way in which the beauty industry participates in wasteful processes is through selling sample sizes. Sample sizes seem logical at first glance, as consumers get to sample a product before purchasing an expensive, full-size product. However, sample sizes, though adorable, require packaging and shipping, just as their full-size counterparts do. And while many companies have made the switch from plastic to reusable glass packaging, what many of us don’t realize is the ways in which packaging and shipping of any kind can be harmful to the environment. While McIntosh applauds companies who even attempt to be more green, she urges brands to continue doing their research. She notes that “not all glass is as recyclable or environmentally friendly as we think.” More important, however, is the fact that glass is delicate and, in turn, requires more care in terms of packaging and shipping. Because most companies pack their products with materials like bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or crinkle paper, many online beauty consumers are unknowingly contributing to a packaging process that is seriously harmful to the environment.
Undoubtedly, companies striving to be more green are faced with a complex problem. How can they offer products that are both good for their consumers and the environment all while keeping company costs low? Well, McIntosh proposes that companies get more creative in terms of packaging and shipping and urges us, as individuals, to identify which aspects of our beauty routines are most harmful. In running her own beauty company, McIntosh doesn’t want consumers to have feelings of guilt or to feel that they’re not ‘green’ enough. Instead, she hopes consumers will educate themselves on which materials, processes, and ingredients are most harmful to the environment and their bodies. Rest assured, “[educating yourself] doesn’t have to involve giving anything up.” Take My Face Off is just one example of a company doing it right, as McIntosh works hard to “upgrade your routine while using something that is vastly more green.” As mentioned earlier, single-use items can be wasteful and—despite seeming like an affordable option—are more expensive over time. Make-up removing wipes are another good example of these, but because guilting consumers into going green isn’t the answer, McIntosh aims to show the financial benefits of using reusable beauty supplies, and specifically using reusable make-up removing products. Companies that offer money-saving, eco-friendly, and better-for-you products have a chance at shifting consumer interest from convenience and familiarity to a focus on consumer health and what’s better for the environment.
Another material McIntosh urges consumers to be mindful about is cotton—and for two reasons. First, “cotton production only counts for 16% of all wordwide agriculture, but it’s over 25% for all the pesticides, and the pesticides we tend to use on cotton are aggressive.” So, when we use cotton balls to remove or apply product, we’re not only using single-use items, we’re also using a product on our skin that is potentially drenched in pesticides. Second, cotton is extremely water-hungry, and we tend to get our cotton from third-world countries where water supply is scarce. Additionally, these countries use child labor and do not have strong regulations regarding these chemicals. Because of that, “chemicals are dramatically changing the water landscape of those whole areas and ruining entire ecosystems.” While the solution to this may be obvious, i.e. to use organic cotton instead of pesticide-doused cotton, organic cotton is non-GMO, which requires more water and is, as a result, more wasteful.
In all, having this type of mindfulness is required for nearly all disposable products. McIntosh reminds us “that it always matters where something comes from. It always matters what something’s made of.” The process of making disposable items is oftentimes harmful, as it involves the supply chain, the transportation, the packaging, the shipping, and more. With disposable beauty products like cotton balls or pads, that process is repeated every time you use that product—with every cotton ball, for example. The combination of all those things “starts to pile up on the pollution-o-meter,” according to McIntosh. In short, it’s important to consider not only the ingredients of a beauty product but also the packaging and transportation needs, such as the use of packing peanuts or how much truck fuel is required, respectively. Therefore, it seems the ultimate solution to these pressing problems and the best way to be more green is to reuse. However important the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle” song is, reusable beauty is the motherlode!
What are some ways you can make your beauty regimen more green?