How to Build a Sustainable Skincare Routine

Sustainability and skincare are having a moment right now — one that will hopefully stick around for years to come. There’s something amazing about people taking initiative to better care for themselves and the planet we all live on. However, caring for your skin and caring for Earth aren’t always easy, especially when you’re trying to do both of them together.

While there are ways to build a sustainable skincare routine, it can sometimes feel like it takes skin as tough as nails to handle products whose first priority is sustainability.

Regardless of where you’re finding yourself in the journey of sustainability and skincare, there are ways to build a sustainable skincare routine that works for you. Although some of the more common ways to practice sustainability will be present when you build your skincare routine, there are actually a few tips that may surprise you. Here’s how you can begin to build a more sustainable skincare routine.

Less Is More

When it comes to the number of products you use on a daily basis, there are two schools of thought floating around the skincare world. While plenty of people and brands push the 10-step skincare routine, the other school of thought involves skincare minimalism. This involves using as few products as possible in order to simplify your routine and not overwhelm your skin.

Although some people might like to use one or two additional products a few times a week, your main skincare routine really only needs three main steps: cleansing, moisturizing, and SPF. Keeping things minimal is one of the best ways to make sure your routine is sustainable.

In the equation of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” one of the things that often gets forgotten is the “reduce” element. Keep in mind that you don’t have to worry about waste from products you don’t buy in the first place.

Learn Before You Buy

Especially as skincare has become more popular in recent years, so many new products have hit the market and taken the world by storm.

One of the best ways you can remain sustainable in your routine is to research and look into the products you’re interested in before you buy the full size. If you can get a sample, that’s great. If you can borrow it for a day or two from a friend or family member, even better.

Skip Animal Testing

Although a lot of companies’ ethics can be ambiguous and difficult to figure out, one of the best first steps into sustainability is to make sure your skincare products are not tested on animals. Usually, it’s easy to tell which brands test on animals and which ones are cruelty-free, and there is no need to contribute to cruel practices simply for the sake of your beauty routine.

Find Natural Ingredients

The term “natural” can often be a bit ambiguous, which can subject it to greenwashing. To avoid this, it can be helpful to know a few ingredients to look for and avoid. For example, microplastics can be harmful to coral reefs and aquatic life, and palm oil is often produced unsustainably and unethically.

Instead, go for more natural exfoliants — and chemical exfoliants that break down easier — and more sustainable oils.

Ingredients like jojoba oil, shea butter, green tea, and kale extract can be great ingredients, and there are so many more like them. Try to do your own research whenever you’re thinking about buying a product to see if it aligns with your values.

Find Recyclable Packaging

For what we can not reduce, we need to recycle. Although products often come with plastic or other waste, you can search for brands that produce their products using as little disposable waste as possible. Glass packaging is often the best, but many plastic bottles can still be recycled too.

Make It Sustainable for You

One of the most important parts of building a sustainable routine of any kind is the actual sustainability of it in your life. In short, if you find yourself breaking your back and wasting lots of energy to go perfectly zero-waste in your skincare routine, you’re more likely to decide it isn’t worth it and go back to your old ways.

However, if you take things slow and practice sustainability in moderation while still considering your needs, you will be more likely to continue your practices long into the future.

If you have a product you love and can’t live without, don’t try to get rid of it completely. Instead, search for more sustainable dupes or make that your one allowance in an otherwise more sustainable routine. Sustainability is a long game, and it’s important to remember that.

Sustainability in Your Skincare

There’s so much that goes into building a sustainable routine, and it’s different for everybody. As long as you are being mindful and always looking for new ways to innovate, both for the planet and for your skin, you can find a balance that works for everybody. Do you have any sustainable skincare products you already love?

About the Author

Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.

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