'The 4 easy and simple ways I managed to zero-waste my beauty routine.'

When first starting out on the path to zero waste, many “zero wasters” will tackle the easy swaps first – replacing their daily takeaway coffee cup habit with a KeepCup, plastic water bottles with a glass bottle, and lightweight plastic bags for a reusable tote bag.

Next, they may address those frequently used single-use kitchen items – paper towels, cling wrap, etc, before moving onto the bigger areas like the bathroom cupboard.

Bathrooms are usually teeming with plastic products, which is why I found it the most intimidating area to zero waste.

I loved my beauty products; and after years of trialing this latest miracle cream and that must-have eyeliner, had settled upon my favourites.

The idea of letting all of those products go in order to be zero waste was more than a little daunting.

The beauty purge begins

The first things to go were the bottled shampoo and conditioner, swapped out for shampoo and conditioner bars.

It actually took many months (those bars last forever) of trying every shampoo bar out there until I found the right one for my hair type (Ethique’s Sweet & Spicy Shampoo Bar).

Take heart if you’ve tried a few bars yourself with varying results – the perfect one is out there, it just takes a bit of trial and error.

Next, my makeup bag received an overhaul. First, I looked at what I could do without. Goodbye eye primer! Then I searched for zero waste alternatives to my must-use products.

After exhaustive research (read: trawling Instagram) I discovered Dirty Hippie Cosmetics. Organic, vegan and fair trade, this completely plastic-free brand has all the makeup staples – mascara, eyeliner, concealer, and plenty more – as well as skin and body care products, all of which come in glass jars or tins.

Labels are printed using recycled paper and vegetable-based ink, and shipped using recycled paper tape and boxes.

You can also have your full-sized tin and bottle products refilled, which will be posted back to you free of charge.

Some other great zero waste makeup brands you may want to try are Elate Beauty, Antonym and Kjaer Weis.

The next big beauty swaps

After I zero wasted my makeup and hair care, there were still four big waste generating culprits to tackle – body wash, cleanser, dry shampoo and lip gloss.

Here is what I replaced them with, why I love them and most importantly, whether they actually work.

Zero waste beauty swap #1: Body wash for soap bars.

This one is a no-brainer; switching out your liquid body wash for a soap bar is one of the simplest changes you can make in your efforts to go zero waste.

Up until recently, bar soap sales were on the decline, but as the consumer backlash against plastic waste gathers force, the humble bar of soap is making a comeback.


You can opt for a “naked” soap bar or one wrapped in paper. Personally, I’m a fan of The Source’s Rose & Australian Pink Clay soap. They’re completely package free, and free from preservatives or artificial fragrance.

Little tip: be sure to store your soap bar in a soap holder with drainage slats so that it doesn’t get all slimy.

Zero waste beauty swap #2: Cream cleanser for olive oil.

sustainable makeup
Image: Supplied.

Okay, stay with me here. I know the idea of rubbing olive oil on your face may seem a little controversial, but even actress Chloë Grace Moretz is a fan of this unconventional beauty practice.

“I swear my skin is so much clearer because of it,” said Moretz in a 2016 interview with Allure magazine.

I purchase certified organic olive oil from a bulk food store and store it in a glass bottle, which eliminates any packaging and also saves a pretty penny when compared to the cost of mainstream oil cleansers.

I have dry skin so using olive oil feels amazingly hydrating. It also removes makeup in a cinch (I use a muslin cloth to wipe off any oily residue), won’t strip your skin of its natural oils and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Zero waste beauty swap #3: Dry shampoo for tapioca flour.

sustainable makeup
Regular tapioca flour works just as well. Image: Supplied.

Remember when dry shampoo in a can became a thing? Women everywhere rejoiced at extending the days between hair washes.

Those aerosol cans of dry shampoo were a game changer… but they aren’t so great for the environment.

Not only are they rarely recycled; their contents emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which enter the atmosphere and cause air pollution.

If you’ve ever used talcum powder to take out the “shine” of unwashed hair, you’ll know it sucks up all that oil. Regular tapioca flour works just as well, if not better.

I keep a glass jar of it in my bathroom cupboard and if I want to skip washing my hair that day, I’ll sprinkle a small amount at the roots of my hair, let it sit for a few minutes, and then brush and/or blow-dry it out. Works a treat!

Zero waste beauty swap #4: Lip gloss for lip balm

Obviously most big brand lip glosses and lipsticks come in plastic tubes, so finding a lip balm in glass or a stainless steel tin was essential.

I swapped out all my candy-coloured tubes of lip gloss for just one pot of Mokosh's Coconut and Blackcurrant Lip Balm.

This skincare brand is amazing. Not only are all their products certified organic, palm oil free, free from preservatives, emulsifiers and synthetic ingredients, all their packaging is either glass or paper.

Empty jars can be returned for steralisation and refilled in three participating stores in Perth (where Mokosh headquarters are located), with plans to roll out the same service in their other stores around Australia soon. Until then, I wash and reuse the amber jars for my DIY beauty projects.

Ready to zero waste your bathroom? Be sure to recycle all your used up beauty products through Terracycle.

For more from Emma, you can read her blog here or follow her on Instagram here.

For more on this topic, read:

'Exactly what I did to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle. With a baby.'