Of course, makeup isn’t a necessity, but I like using it. My first step was to declutter. I had a big makeup stash, and several items were a decade old. I washed and recycled what I could and donated the new unopened stuff I didn't want. But a lot of it had to be sent to landfill because it was rancid, dried up, or in composite packaging. It sucks that most cosmetics are unrecycleable. I'm still using up some products I had that I still like, so you'll see some plastic packaging in my makeup kit (pictured below).
Going forward, I'll be focused on not buying excess makeup, keeping a simplified makeup routine, and avoiding packaging waste. Most of my new makeup is from Elate, a great company with strong ethics and an environmentally friendly mindset. Their products are vegan, toxin-free, and low waste. The products come in sustainable packaging (although the mascara contains plastic - see below).
I researched a few ways to DIY it, but got overwhelmed. Finding the right shade and consistency felt like a chore, so I decided to try readymade foundations. First, I tried one from a shop on Etsy with great reviews. It had simple ingredients, and was shipped in a glass container with minimal packaging (many of their customers are zero wasters). It ended up being too runny and didn’t have the concealing power I was looking for. Then, I found Elate.
Full tint foundation from Elate
Sold in a glass container with a plastic lid. I apply it with my fingertips. No need for foam brushes or anything.
Cream Revealer from Elate
Sold in a glass container with a plastic lid. I apply it with my fingertips.
Powder blush from Elate
Arrives as a tin wrapped in seed paper that can then be planted in soil to grow wildflowers. I store it in a bamboo capsule. When empty, tin can be recycled.
Eyebrow powderSwap it
I’m still using my old eyebrow powder, but when I use all of it, I’ll switch to Elate and add it to my bamboo palette.
Pressed eye color from Elate
It's packaged like the blush.
Back in the day, mascara came in dry, pressed form (called cakes). It had to be moistened before applying to the lashes with a wand. Nowadays, of course the usual form is a liquid in a plastic tube. It’s more convenient, but harder on the environment. There’s an old-school inspired pre-moistened version of the cakes I’ve seen DIY bloggers talk about, which is based on coconut oil + charcoal. I’m curious to try it, but I’m concerned about bacterial eye infections. Commercial mascara contains anti-bacterials which prevent bacteria overgrowth. This is something that’s missing with the DIY versions, and it’s just too unsafe for me to put my eyeballs at risk. So, again, I choose Elate (I swear I’m not a paid sponsor :-).
Mascara from Elate
It’s sold in a bamboo tube with an inner container of plastic. The plastic liner can be recycled (but must be cleaned out), and the outer bamboo tube can be composted. Mascara wands can be sent to Wands for Wildlife for use in remove fly eggs and larva from the fur of wild animals.
I’m still using plastic brushes that I already owned. There’s no need to rush out and buy new stuff. When those fall apart, I’ll buy bamboo ones.
Makeup Removal or Toner ApplierSwap it
I use reusable Hemp + Cotton rounds. There are several sellers on Etsy. You can use them just as you would use a cotton ball. I leave them on a shelf in the bathroom to dry overnight, then store them in a box until I’m ready to do laundry. On laundry day, I toss ‘em into my GuppyFriend bag (you can also use any other washing bag) so they’re easier to sort out and don’t end up everywhere. To extend their life, I don’t put them in the dryer. I air dry them (in a single layer) on a nylon laundry bag spread across my desk.