Starting a sustainable beauty routine may sound intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple to do. Every small step counts — you don’t have to overhaul your entire beauty stash to get on that zero-waste path. In fact, once you begin swapping out certain products, you won’t even notice the difference with time, and that’s the aim we want in the long run. 

Below, we list out some swaps you can make to your existing beauty routine that are pretty simple and won’t cost you very much.

Swap cotton pads for reusable ones

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Reusable cotton pads are perhaps one of the easiest zero-waste swaps you can make in a bid to have a more sustainable beauty routine. They are easily available in most online stores, or you can even DIY your own by sewing pieces of a clean, old cotton T-shirt together. If you’re good at crocheting, you can also crochet your own reusable cotton pads with the right yarn. 

Stop using makeup wipes

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Single-use makeup wipes are not very eco-friendly, but you easily remove your makeup with other alternatives. Micellar water with reusable cotton pads or with an oil cleanser are great. However, if you absolutely must use a makeup wipe, might we suggest a microfibre towel that only requires water to remove even the toughest of makeup, like this Makeup Eraser cloth? 

Wash-off masks and sleeping masks over sheet masks

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Similar to makeup wipes, sheet masks are also heavy on the waste. There’s nothing eco-friendly about throwing out your sheet masks once you’re done with them. Instead of sheet masks, make the swap to wash-off masks. If you’re absolutely in need of high-functioning essences, try breaking an ampoule and then applying a sleeping mask afterwards to seal all the nutrients in as you take your beauty sleep. 

Use solid products wherever possible

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Solid products are making a comeback, and for a good reason. Less packaging used means less plastic waste, making for a more sustainable product. While you can’t necessarily find everything in solid form, the heavily-used essentials can thankfully be found in a soap bar form. We’re talking about shampoo and conditioner bars, body wash bars, facial cleansers in a bar form, and even solid lotions. Brands like Lush are pioneers of this, but there are also many other local brands offering this, such as Claire Organics and LAVE Republic. 

Aim for refillable products

Image: Fenty Beauty

Wherever possible, look for beauty brands that have refillable options. You probably won’t need to look far for them, because more brands – including luxury beauty brands – are introducing refillable products. Rihanna’s Fenty Skin offers refills for some of its products. Luxury skincare brand La Prairie has also started introducing refills for its serums and moisturisers. Simply swap out the inner glass tubes for a new one, while the external vials can be reused. Even perfume brands such as Le Labo offer a refill system for the same perfume; simply bring your empty bottle to the shop to be refilled, and it will cost a fraction of the original price.