Zero Waste: An Introduction to Sustainable Beauty

With product options increasing by the hour, that also means an increase in plastic packaging, which almost always finds its fate in a landfill. Statistics prove it. In 2016, Singaporeans disposed 8,559 tonnes of waste per day. And although incineration reduces the volume of waste by 90%, we’re predicted to run out of space on our existing landfill at Pulau Semakau by 2035. It’s an environmental crisis, and no industry is exempt from scrutiny, including beauty.

LUSH Cosmetics Creative Showcase 2017

Going packageless in the beauty industry


If you’re working to cut down your plastic footprint, you may have already switched to a metal straw or developed the habit of stashing a reusable tote in your bag at all times. However, LUSH Cosmetics wants you to consider your beauty routine, too.
From solid shampoo bars to bath bombs and soaps, nude is not new to LUSH. But in a time when pollution is a growing problem, they’ve challenged themselves to push the boundaries a tad further. LUSH’s most recent Christmas range introduced all sorts of exciting products, from naked solid body conditioners that melt onto the skin, solid shower gels packed with juicy ingredients, to sparkle jars, cocoa butter massage bars that hydrate skin and leave a dazzling final touch.

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-06 at 1.51.56 PM

If you’ve caught a glimpse of the naked shower gels, you may wonder how they differ from their packaged counterparts. The naked shower gels actually have a completely different formula to that of LUSH’s solid soap. According to cosmetic scientist and product inventor Daniel Campbell, “Naked shower gels behave and function exactly like the liquid version, you can use either.” They’re simply a concentrated formula made without water, so these funky little numbers hydrate when they hit the shower and lather up just like a shower gel.

A zero-waste approach to beauty


Apart from LUSH, getting our hands on beauty products that are completely package-free is a major challenge. It’s clear that most of the industry is still snailing behind, which is why we ought to steer our choices in a more sustainable direction. Several companies, nearly all of the organic variety, have rethought their packaging in ecological and elegant ways. Many are going plastic-free, reusable, and even biodegradable.


More bloggers and practitioners are becoming advocates of the zero-waste lifestyle too. Individuals like Kathryn Kellogg, founder and curator of her blog Going Zero Waste, as well as Lauren Singers, the founder of Trash is for Tossers, always serve a good dose of inspiration when it comes to minimising waste. In celebration of Earth Month, it’s time we reassessed our consumption habits, and start looking out for items that contain organic and cruelty-free ingredients, those that opt out of traditional packaging while they’re at it.
Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it.

1. Look for glass packaging

As opposed to single-use plastic, glass vessels are infinitely recyclable. Just be careful when you’re handling them! Consider products that come in glass pots or pump and spray bottles. Once you’ve used up every drop, simply fill it up with product and use it again.
Tata Harper is one of those natural beauty brands that stand behind environmentally-friendly recyclable packaging options. Gorgeous green glass is used to contain most of their products, and actress Natasha Lyonne‘s a fan of how “they class up the joint”. Not only that, Tata Harper’s boxes are made of 100% post-consumer recycled papers and soy based ink, while their tubes are made of corn-based plastic, which means they’re crafted from a renewable resource instead of petroleum. Sustainability is evidently at the core of the brand, a commendable effort indeed.

tata harper
Tata Harper
(L-R): Clarifying Cleanser, $99; Hydrating Floral Essence, $99; Repairative Moisturizer, $160

A responsible, beloved brand that’s constantly aiming to lessen its environmental footprint is Aesop. The chic Australia-born label has a minimalistic approach to their sleek, apothecary-style packaging, using the minimum amount required where possible and appropriate, all without compromising on the stability, quality, and integrity of their products. Dark amber glass bottles are used to extend the product’s shelf life, controlling the the amount of manmade preservatives (potential irritants) required. And on top of housing their products in recyclable materials, Aesop also incorporates post-consumer recycled material into its packaging, keeping with their commitment to sustainability.

aesop - sustainable beauty
(L-R): In Two Minds Hydrator $80; In Two Minds Cleanser $43 (100ml), $65 (200ml); Damascan Rose Facial Treatment, $101

RMS Beauty
(L-R): Lip & Skin Balm in Simply Vanilla, $35; Living Luminizer, $47; “Un” Cover-Up Concealer in 11, $45;
Lip2Cheek Tint in Demure, $45; Lip Shine in Bloom, $35

sw basics
S.W. Basics
(L-R): Hibiscus Mask, $40; Toner, $40; Makeup Remover, $30

Herbivore Botanicals
(L-R): Sea Mist Coconut + Sea Salt Beach Wave Hair Spray, $32; Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner, $59;
Lapis Oil Balancing Azulene Infused Facial Oil, $112

2. Purchase refillable makeup

At the forefront of refillable makeup is one of the most coveted beauty brands around. Founded by veteran makeup artist Kirsten Kjær Weis, Kjær Weis products don’t just look incredibly chic, they do good too by reducing waste. Each product has a refillable component, so when you purchase a signature sleek metal compact, it’s yours to keep forever. In the same vein as Tata Harper, sustainability has always been a pillar of the brand’s ethos, believing that packaging should be as good for the earth as the makeup inside is for the skin, without having to compromise luxury.
Also committed to reducing one-use packaging is Elate Cosmetics, a Canadian company that not only uses water-processed bamboo to create their cases and palettes, their pressed powder products also come in seed paper that can be planted in your garden to sprout wildflowers or herbs. How neat is that?

kjaer weis
Kjaer Weis
(L-R): Lipstick in Adore, £44.00; Lip Tint in Rapture, £35.00; Cream Blush in Sun Touched, £41.00
Shop refills on and Content Beauty

Elate Cosmetics
Top: Modish EyeColour Trio, US$56
Bottom (L-R): Brow Balm in Smoke, US$20; Universal Crème in Celestial Highlight, US$29

alima pure
Alima Pure
(L-R): Pressed Foundation with Rosehip Antioxidant Complex, $59; Pressed Foundation Refill, $38

3. Go biodegradable

Meow Meow Tweet‘s small-batch vegan products are made with pure, natural and organic plant oils, butters, essential oils and botanicals, but today, we’re zooming in on their deodorant stick, which is wrapped in Post-Consumer Waste (PWC) paper that’ll break down naturally in a year. So instead of purchasing yet another deodorant in a single-use plastic tube, look to one that’s biodegradable instead. (We can’t bear to compost them though, not with those whimsical animal illustrations and eye-catching colours wrapped around.)
Another easy way to go biodegradable is to consider bamboo, and these facial cleansing wipes by Kaia Naturals prove they have a destiny way beyond the garbage can. Made with bamboo, these clothes don’t just remove makeup gently, they’ll feed the earth too. See, bamboo helps promote healthy soil, so after you’ve taken the day off your face with this, go ahead and plant the cloth, water the soil, and watch it disappear in 60 to 70 days.

meow meow
Meow Meow Tweet
(L-R): Lavender Bergamot Deodorant Stick, $29.90; Lemon Eucalyptus Deodorant Stick, $29.90

Kaia Naturals
Juicy Bamboo Facial Cleansing Oil Cloths, $26 (20 cloths)

Given the current state of our planet, it’s safe to say we’ve never been more aware of the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment. And considering the beauty industry plays its fair part in filling the nation’s landfills, we’ve got to be a little more responsible with how we shop round the beauty section. Even if a complete zero-waste approach isn’t for you, try swapping out a few items in your skincare and makeup regimen for some of these. Give it a go, you’re sure to notice a change for the better.