Beauty comes at a high cost, and it seems like the environment is paying for it. We are all guilty of being creatures of comfort – clinging to what we are used to and resisting change. But every now and then, it is good to rethink our habits and assess if they still serve our best interest. Bad beauty habits don’t, and we are all affected by them in the long-run.

So, we’ve put together a few thoughts on how we can do better for ourselves and our world.

How to shop better

1. Do not hoard. If you use less, buy less – Having drawers full of beauty products does not equate to an effective beauty routine. Take the time to understand your skin and body’s needs or consult a dermatologist if necessary. Keep product testing to a minimum, and once you find something that works for you, stick to it.

2. Quality over quantity – Go for products with quality ingredients and ethical manufacturing. You’ll need less product and fewer steps for skin or beauty care, making having a beauty routine on the go much more manageable. Products that sit on a shelf for an extended period of time lose their effectiveness. Check the expiry date before purchasing a product to ensure it is fresh.

3. Source multipurpose products – Not everyone needs a 21-step beauty routine. If you have healthy skin and hair, finding a good all-in-one product that works could be a better solution to minimising waste. For skin, try L’occitane’s The Petit Remedy, a multipurpose nourishing balm for face, body, and hair. For an all-in-one moisturiser, try Pixi’s On-The-Glow Multi-Use Moisture Stick. Glossier Futuredew is a one-step trick to having an all-day glow while keeping your skin hydrated.

Meanwhile, Yes To make an awesome 2-in-1 travel-friendly exfoliate and cleanser stick. And for sun protection, consider Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturiser with SPF40 PA+++. For your hair, The Ouai Hair Oil works to give shine, moisturise and protect the hair from heat damage.

4. Sample products before making a full-sized purchase – So much beauty waste comes from purchases we made that looked and felt good on us in the store but later realised that it does not work well for us. Reduce product waste by opting for a sample size before making a full purchase.

Scentses & Co. offers a monthly fragrance subscription of over 560 designer perfumes. Choose from one to three scents you would like to try, and they will be delivered to you in 8ml travel-friendly cases. If you don’t like what you get, that’s alright; you can try other scents in the following month: less waste, more room for exploring.

Expand your beauty product choices

1. Swap your travel makeup wipes for eco-friendly alternatives – Most facial cleansing wipes are biodegradable, meaning they may take well over a century to decompose. So when you can, opt for compostable makeup wipes instead.

While cleansing balms and oils like Joi’s Coconut & Avocado Cleansing Oil are better alternatives for home use, when on the go, try makeup wipes like the Nudestix NUDESKIN Vegan Bamboo Cleansing Cloths and Simple Kind to Skin Biodegradable Cleansing Facial Wipes.

2. Invest in refillable makeup palettes and lipstick cases – Most of us bin old makeup cases that probably end up in landfills. One way to decrease our beauty landfill waste is by investing in brands that allow you to refill your palettes.

The Makeup Forever Refillable Makeup Palette, MAC Cosmetic Pro Palette Custom Palette, and Inglot Freedom System Flexi Eco Palette are wonderful alternatives for custom refillable palettes. Brands that sell refillable lipstick cases include Fenty Beauty Fenty Icon The Case Semi-Matte Lipstick (refills sold separately), Hourglass Confession Ultra Slim High Intensity Refillable Lipstick, and Dior Addict The New Shine Icon Refillable Lipstick.

Shop from environmentally conscious brands

1. The Hive Bulk Foods – Small daily changes can tremendously reduce our beauty waste. The Hive Bulk Foods has a good range of eco-friendly everyday beauty products.

There’s much to explore in their store that can give you a better idea of the changes you can make in your own life, but here are a few products we recommend to get you started. The Bamboo Reusable Makeup Pads, Salt Crystal Deodorant, and Chew N’ Brush Toothpaste Tablets.

No need to squeeze the last bits of your toothpaste out of plastic tubes anymore!

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2. Lave Republic – Lave Republic is a homegrown brand making natural hair and body products that use little to no packaging materials. Their products are thoughtfully handcrafted with natural ingredients and with consideration for the environment.

These include their Grease Fret Shampoo Bar for Oily Scalp, Spice Girls Cinnamon Body Butter, and Shine Bright Conditioner Bar for Glossy Hair. You can also pick up one of their Travel Buddy Tins to take with you on trips.

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3. Lush – Being a low-waste cosmetics and hygiene brand, most products have no packaging or are wrapped in fabric, reusable cans, and cardboard. Introducing products like Honey I Washed My Hair Shampoo Bar, T’eo Solid Deodorant, and Charity Pot Coin Hand & Body Lotion Bar is a great way to start your low beauty waste journey.

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Your trash is someone else’s treasure: share what you do not need!

1. Donate unused products to women-centric organisations – WAO accepts certain unused beauty products, including body lotion, deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, soap bars, combs, and hair brushes. Check the Donation Wishlist regularly to see what is needed.

2. Set aside products for friends and family – There is only so much product one body can take. If you have an abundance of beauty products that might take you a while to get through, share them with someone who will appreciate them. Even if it is a product you love and will eventually use — it has no use once it goes out of date. Generosity is a great way to combat waste.

Intentional recycling

The sad news is that most products thrown in recycling bins or at recycling centres don’t always end up being recycled. Here’s where we can take a little more responsibility for our trash – do some research for companies nearby that accept specific products and can do something good with them. Listed are a few examples:

1. The Body Shop Malaysia – Bring Back Our Bottles Campaign
Return used Body Shop packaging and get a RM1 discount on your next purchase. Terms are stated on their website. Another way to ‘recycle’ your Body Shop bottles is by using The Body Shop Refill Bottles, and you can find a refill station available at their Suria KLCC outlet.

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2. L’occitane X iCycle – Big Little Things Recycling Programme
Create a profile at the nearest participating L’occitane outlet and give them your clean and dried, full-sized empties from L’occitane or any beauty brand to be recycled. Their beauty advisors will check if the empties are eligible for recycling. The programme rewards you for constant participation. For more details, click here.

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3. Lush – Bring It Back
Lush accepts returns of their emptied-out black pots and recycles them into brand new Lush pots. Your returns contribute to their efforts in creating a closed-loop recycling process for their packaging materials. Read more about it here.

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4. Recycle electrical beauty products, hair stylers, razors, and more at e-waste collection centres
Do not dispose of your old or broken electronic products in the bin. Anything with a plug point can be recycled, even for parts. If you are unsure if something can be recycled, call an e-waste centre to inquire. Use Zero Waste Malaysia’s resource map to locate an e-waste collection centre near you.

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Embrace your natural beauty

We know it sounds cliche, but you are beautiful just the way you are (remember that famed Bruno Mars tune?). It has been encouraging to see the beauty industry make thoughtful changes over the years, dismantling the superficial ideas about beauty. Still, so much content we take in feeds off our insecurities and doubts.

Skip the fads and gimmicks. The simplest way to reduce beauty waste is by giving your hair and skin days off whenever possible. As long as you know what works for you and how your body responds to different factors, skipping a few days of a rigmarole beauty routine will do you no harm. It’s good for you and great for the environment.