(Almost) Zero-Waste Beauty Routine

A while back, I posted my very low-key, zero-waste hair care routine. The post turned out to be quite popular, so I thought I’d have a go at writing about my extremely simplified “beauty” routine.

Now, I have never been big on makeup, always finding it took an awful lot of time for very little reward. As a teenager I tried to don some for special occasions, but I have never been one to wear makeup on a daily basis. Luckily for me, I live in a country/work in an industry where you’re not penalized for not adhering to sexist beauty standards. So if that is not the case for your area/office/profession, this post will probably not be of much use. I am reluctant to even call it a beauty routine because, much like my hair care, this is almost as simple as it gets, and yet I smell clean and fresh for work.

A brief history

I didn’t start out with the really simplified routine I now follow. Like most people in western countries, I started out using shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, facial cleanser, intimate soap, body butter, face moisturizer… you get the gist.

But, as you might have noticed, I am a very lazy frugal bum, and I don’t like spending time, energy and money on stuff that does not add anything to my life. Around the same time I started denouncing all these products in my life, I was also in the middle of studying chemistry. This made me read at the back of everything, which made me realize that even “green” or “organic” stuff is processed to the brim with shit that is not good for the environment, especially in the quantities we are pouring it into our drains and into the sea.

So I started looking for alternatives. I reduced the number of products I used and the quantities in which I used them.

For years, I looked for alternatives to buy. Because making your own care products seemed intimidating. But as I leaned towards more and more natural products with few ingredients and little processing, I started asking myself if not someone, especially a someone with lab experience, couldn’t whip together these things at home as well. And I could!

As of 2018, I’ve managed to pare down my list of beauty products to just three different things:

Soap

All homemade, all the time.

Long term readers of this blog will remember that I make my own cold-process soap. For a while I also tried to make it my sidehustle, but found it a bit too much to combine with my demanding dayjob.

But yes, I make all the soap we use in the house for personal hygiene purposes. My bars are in the kitchen and bathroom sink to clean our hands, and in the shower to clean our bodies. We even use the soap as a moisturizer for shaving, which it does very well.

An added bonus is that they make great gifts which do not clutter up the home of the recipients.

Moisturizer

Living in a country with cold winters, it is nice to be able to moisturize my hands as they get cold and dry. A general moisturizer is also a practical thing to keep around the house in general. So every other year or so, when I start running out, I whiz up a batch of whipped body butter with oils/fats or some description.

If I am feeling extra indulgent, I will add a few drops of essential oils of pine, juniper berry or other forest smells, making me feel like a proper ent. But never too much, as I use this general moisturizer for most anything, also lip balm as needed.

A recipe for whipped body butter can be found over at Wellness Mama. They are really easy to make, but obviously, being made of real fats, it does not absorb into your skin in 10.5 seconds like some modern concoctions tend to advertise.

Facial oil

The last, and probably most indulgent item on the list, is something that serves only one use: My small bottle of jojoba oil.

Jojoba, apparently, is the oil which is most like the sebum in our skin. This product is not a must by any account, but it does feel a little luxurious to massage it into my face after a nice shower. Again, sometimes I add a drop or two or essential oil of juniper berry to make me feel like a hulder/ent.

That’s it!

Apart from deodorant and toothpaste, which I have still to find a satisfying sustainable/zero-waste alternative to, that is all I use.

You might look at this list and wonder why I put “Almost zero-waste” in the title, when you might think all these homemade things would qualify for the zero-waste stamp easily.

Well, the crux is the containers I receive my ingredients in. Even though I buy in bulk, my oils, fats, essential oils and lye still arrive in plastic containers or small glass jars. I might have drastically reduced the plastic/product ratio by making it at home, but until I can convince the supplier to let me return their containers to them and refill them for me instead of sending me new ones, I am afraid this is as close to zero-waste as I am getting at the moment.

It also keeps out bathroom nice and minimalistic with only a handful of products in the shower/cabinets. I don’t know why, but this simplicity of things really appeals to me.

As with my hair-care routine, no-one has made any negative comments to me about looking greasy or less than put together. I mean, the soap I use is still soap, and there is no reason it is any less efficient than store-bought soap.

How do you think we managed before pharmacies came along and started making everything for us, telling us their stuff was obviously better than our cottage varieties?

PS: Do you want a more in-depth, detailed post about why all those products are no good for you? Check out Budget Epicurean’s glorious post on the same subject!

4 Comments on “(Almost) Zero-Waste Beauty Routine

  1. Thanks for the shout out! You are light years ahead of me in the homemade goodies department though. Soapmaking is on the to do list for sure. For deodorant, I’ve started making my own: 1 tbsp baking soda, 1 tbsp coconut oil, couple drops tea tree. That’s it! And it works great. No oil stains on shirts so far that I’ve noticed. I doubt I’ll ever do anything else.

    • Haha, I am just lazy/simplistic! Plus a chemistry background helps in demystifying soapmaking, and it’s a lot of fun.

      That deoderant sounds interesting! But I feel a bit nervous about putting so much baking soda on my skin every day, it can be a bit rough. I might have to try experimenting with deoderant recipes soon. I know some organic commercial producers use alun, which is easy to source. I might give that a go!

  2. Soapmaking has been on my list for SO long and I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I feel okay about that though, because I just make sure to pick up a bar from a local vendor at the farmers market when I need more. Nothing wrong with supporting local small business 🙂 Toothpaste is an especially tricky one, because I use a prescription high-fluoride variety in order to combat my tendency to get cavities every time I turn around. It works though, so perhaps that’s less wasteful than constantly having to go in and have my teeth filled? 😉

    • Yeah, supporting local vendors is always a good thing, we can’t all do everything! 🙂
      I hear you on dental care! I get issues with my wisdom teeth if I consume too much food with added sugar – but I just take it as a reminder to eat more fruit/veg and less candy! 😉

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