Sustainable Toiletry Swaps

sustainable toiletries

I’m excited to share another post about one of my favorite topics-sustainability! We started a series a while back about updates to make to work towards living more sustainably. In case you missed our first installment, check out my post about ideas for making sustainable choices in the kitchen. Today I’m continuing this series with sustainable toiletry swaps. I’m focusing on toiletries specifically because I think cleaning products deserve their own post, so I’ll cover that in the next installment of this series. I’m also not really going to get into makeup/cosmetics because I’m not very far along in my sustainability journey in that category. I haven’t bought makeup in over a year because I haven’t been wearing it much during the pandemic. I’m looking forward to finding sustainable cosmetics once I’m back out in the world though, and I’ll share on my progress!

There are two goals I’m working towards any time I’m evaluating potential sustainable toiletry swaps:

  1. Cutting out single-use packaging, particularly plastic, and replacing it with biodegradable or recyclable options.
  2. Eliminating harsh chemicals in the ingredients of my products and working towards more natural, clean products.

My sustainability journey in this area actually started several years ago with transitioning to clean beauty. I was worried about ingredients long before I was worried about packaging. One tool that I found really useful is an app called Think Dirty. It lets you scan bar codes of products when you’re in a store and tells you about ingredients which are potentially carcinogenic or are likely to trigger allergies. I try to avoid anything with sulfates in it, and I absolutely will not buy anything with parabens (which studies have linked to cancer) or microplastics (I look for polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, acrylates copolymer, and nylon). I’m at the point now where most of the products I use have ingredients I can actually pronounce and understand, so I don’t think about this one anywhere near as much as I used to.

In terms of reducing trash and plastic packaging, here are the sustainable toiletry swaps I’ve made:

  • I look to use bar versions of soap wherever I can. I like face soap bars with charcoal in them (I most recently purchased this one by UpCircle), we use Love Beauty and Planet shampoo bars, and we use bar soaps for body wash. I look for bars that come in cardboard boxes without wrappers.
  • In terms of skincare, I look for products that come in glass jars. I use this moisturizer by Upcircle, and this Triple C Night Cream by Mad Hippie. For a serum, I use “Buffet” by The Ordinary. I have to admit, my approach to skincare is not very strategic. I kind of just pick products that sound meaningful and hope my face doesn’t get as wrinkly. I have no idea if any of these ingredients are right for my skin type.
  • I found this shaving cream by Truly that comes in a glass jar, although it has a plastic lid. I’m hoping to find a bar version of shaving cream at some point soon.
  • For dental care, I use bamboo toothbrushes and silk dental floss, which are both compostable. I’ve been making our toothpaste using Trash is for Tossers’ recipe, but I’m worried about the oil in it going through our plumbing. I’m going to switch to this toothpaste instead.
  • For any products that come in tubes, I look for options where the tube is made out of cardboard and is compostable. I absolutely LOVE Meow Meow Tweet’s products for this. I use their repair balm for lotion (this stuff is basically magic in terms of hydration) and their lip balm.
  • Another Meow Meow Tweet product I like: their sunscreen is reef-friendly (so no scary chemicals) and comes in recyclable packaging. It also isn’t as chalky as a lot of mineral sunscreens, and it smells amazing.
  • EVEN MORE Meow Meow Tweet-I like their deodorant. They have one that comes in a cardboard tube, but the jarred versions are more cost efficient. Aluminum in deodorants was one of the things that freaked me out and kicked off my clean beauty journey, so I’m glad I found a deodorant I like. Native also has a deodorant that comes in a cardboard tube, but I haven’t tried it.
  • I use reusable cloths like these pads instead of cotton balls or face wipes to remove my makeup.
  • Reusable period products, like a menstrual cup or period underwear, are sustainable alternatives to single-use tampons and pads. I love Thinx period underwear. They are so much more comfortable to wear than tampons or pads.

There are a few areas I’m still working on figuring out:

  • Conditioner-I’m going to try out this conditioner bar. I’m skeptical it will work as well as liquid conditioner, but it’s worth a shot!
  • Razors-I have a backstock of replacement heads for my plastic razor, but when I use those up I’m going to try a metal razor. I have a friend who really likes Leaf. Package Free Shop also has this more affordable option.
  • Epsom salt-I like to take baths with Epsom salt in them when my muscles are sore from running, but so far I haven’t been able to find any that aren’t in plastic bags. If you have a brand you like that comes in paper or glass packaging, hit me up!
  • Bubble bath-I want to try Lush’s bubble bath bars.

And finally, for transparency’s sake, I want to share that there are two things that I could completely do without, but I choose not to. I tint my eyebrows myself using Just for Men beard dye (so I guess it’s not just for men!). I dye my hair with Good Dye Young semi-permanent hair dye in Narwhal. The Good Dye Young dye at least has pretty clean ingredients, but both it and the eyebrow tint come in plastic tubes. This is one area where my vanity wins out over sustainability.

I hope this list of sustainable toiletry swaps has been helpful and inspiring for you. Do you have any tips of your own? We’d love to hear from you and are hoping to add to this list over time. You can connect with us on social media, or in the comments below, and sign up for our email newsletter to get updates of new post content!

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