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Felicity Ingram
Make-up by Athena Paginton, hair by Anna CofonePhotography Felicity Ingram

5 great things you can do on Plastic-Free Beauty Day


TextAlex Peters

A few easy changes you can make to cut down on your plastic usage

Today (June 17) is Plastic-Free Beauty Day. After a successful kick-off last year, it is back to continue the good work: spreading awareness around the overdependence on plastic by beauty brands and igniting change within the industry.

Across the world, we generate hundreds of millions of tons of plastic every year and it is having a seriously damaging effect on the environment. Only 31 per cent of total plastic waste is recycled, while an estimated 60 per cent ends up in either landfill or the natural environment. Researchers have estimated that up to 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. If it continues at this rate by 2050 the UN predicts the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the fish and an estimated 99 per cent of sea birds will have ingested plastic.

When it comes to the beauty industry, a 2018 study by Zero Waste Europe found that the beauty and personal care sector generated over 142 billion units of packaging that year, the majority of which ended up in landfill or the ocean.

As a reaction to this, Plastic-Free Beauty Day calls on consumers and companies alike to reconsider their use of plastic. Founded by Yolanda Cooper from We Are Paradoxx, this year the haircare brand has teamed up with KANKAN, Circla, and Vanderohe to support Plastic Oceans UK – a non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the use of single-use plastics that end up in our oceans.

“The problem with plastic waste impacts us all not only on an environmental level but on a social level too. We need to raise awareness around the issue before it causes irreversible damage,” says Olivia Thorpe, founder of Vanderohe. “Consumers need to become aware of their choices impacting people in developing countries — as well as the greater environmental issue of the ocean crisis.”

All profits from the sales of the four brands on Plastic-Free Beauty Day will be donated to Plastic Oceans UK. They are also calling on you to commit to one plastic-free day and to share your repurposing of beauty packaging with them. You can visit the website Plastic Free Beauty to learn more about the myths surrounding plastic, discover brands who are doing their bit and sign a pledge to put pressure on the industry to make better environmental choices.

Here are some great changes you can make in your beauty routine to go plastic-free.

DITCH YOUR MAKE-UP WIPES

A report by the World Wildlife Fund found that in 2018, the UK used 10.8 billion wet wipes, the vast majority containing non-biodegradable plastic. The same year the Marine Conservation Society recorded an average of 12 wipes per 100 metres of coastline. Stop your contribution to this by making the switch to a Face Halo to remove your make-up. It is reusable, lasting up to 200 machine washes (that’s over 3 years) and takes the place of hundreds of make-up wipes.

If you are in a situation where you absolutely must have make-up wipes then at least make sure they are biodegradable. Lauren Napier Beauty makes recyclable, biodegradable, and cruelty-free wipes that are formulated to target different skin concerns.

SWAP YOUR SHAMPOO BOTTLES FOR BARS

Another great way to cut down single-use plastic is shampoo bars. Without the need for synthetic bottles, shampoo bars are sturdy and convenient. Plus they are perfect for the 100ml liquid limit when travelling.

Anita Grant’s namesake brand offers products that are cruelty-free, handmade, and fresh created with ingredients purchased directly from fair trade and organic farming communities. The brand has various great shampoo bar options for all types of curly hair ranging from peppermint and lavender to coconut and honey. 

If shampoo bars aren’t for you, We Are Paradoxx’s products are housed in reusable aluminium bottles and this year the brand will be introducing shampoo and conditioner eco-refills. Beauty Kitchen also offers haircare in aluminium bottles and when you are done you can send it back to the brand for free and they will wash and reuse it in their next batch.

INVEST IN RE-FILLABLE MAKE-UP

Recycling beauty products can be tricky as the packaging is often composed of mixed materials (a plastic pump, a metal spring) and while the different components may all be technically recyclable it is often cheaper and easier to throw them in the landfill than separate and recycle. Because of this investing in refillable make-up could be a good option for you.

Paris beauty brand, La Bouche Rouge makes beautiful refillable, vegan lipsticks. Avoiding plastic at all costs, the brand utilises reusable metal molds instead of single-use silicone while the re-fill mechanism contains no polyoxymethylene or polyethylene. Charlotte Tilbury also recently began offering re-fillable options for its Hot Lips collection of lipsticks, while Kjaer Weis's entire range from foundation to mascara is re-fillable.

For your hair, meanwhile, Bleach London last year introduced refill stations at all their salons in an effort to cut down on single-use plastic. Customers are encouraged to buy glass bottles which can be brought to the salon every time they need to top up on shampoo and conditioner. For even more options check out Cirla’s curated selection of refillable hair and skincare and Kankan’s refillable body washes.

TURN YOUR PERIOD GREEN

Tampons and sanitary pads are estimated to produce over 100 billion pieces of waste every year and they are the fifth-most common type of waste washing up on beaches, with nine plastic tampon applicators found per kilometre on UK beaches according to the Women’s Environmental Network. With the average menstruating person using around 12,000 tampons in their life, each of them contributes 24,000 pieces of plastic to landfill, as most applicators have two plastic parts.

In an effort to combat this DAME created the first reusable tampon applicator, for those people not quite sold yet on menstrual cups but who want to do their bit to cut down on single-use plastic. DAME is also the first period brand to be climate positive, meaning that as a company it removes more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than it emits.

If you are interested in making the switch to menstrual cups, Femly offers eco-friendly, hypoallergenic cups in two sizes and three colours.

RECONSIDER YOUR GLITTER

Glitter is great. However, not all glitter is great. The majority of glitters are a microplastic, commonly made of plastic sheets shredded into pieces smaller than 5mm. And when you wash the glitter off, it ends up in sewage, polluting the sea and all the living organisms in it.

Mindful of these, brands have started searching for sustainable glitter options. Sustainable Sparkle Bar’s #GlittahDimeBags are biodegradable and proceeds from sales go towards LGBTQ+ charities as well as currently being put towards funds for the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Bioglitz’s sustainable plant-based glitter is also great. 

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