3 Sustainability Activists Share The Beauty Products They Actually Use

aimee simeon
·7 mins read

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In 2020, sustainable beauty isn't just about cardboard packaging and recyclable jars — it takes into consideration the entire life cycle of a product, from the ingredients used to how it leaves the warehouse and the way the bottle is discarded when it runs dry.

Adopting a more sustainable beauty routine might seem like a lofty task in an industry dominated by consumerism. But with beauty brands responsible for more than 120 billion units of packaging every year, it's vital to the future of our planet that we take the steps to make our routines more mindful— and demand reform from big beauty brands to do the same.

Ahead, we spoke to three sustainability activists on the beauty products they actually use and how they recycle (and upcycle) them when they hit the pan. If they can do it, so can we.

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<h2>Kjaer Weis Lipstick</h2><br>When seeking ways to make her beauty routine more sustainable, Jhánneu says she looks for makeup brands that sell individual shade refills to eliminate unnecessary packaging. "I love this brand because nearly everything they sell is plastic-free," she explains. "It makes it easy to recycle packaging, or you can keep it and purchase new colors you want to try." Jhánneu also swears by the Kjaer Weis <a href="https://kjaerweis.com/products/cream-foundation-iconic-edition-lightness" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:cream foundation" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">cream foundation</a>, a clean formula that offers refillable pods. <br><br><strong>Kjaer Weis</strong> Lipstick, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fkjaerweis.com%2Fproducts%2Flipstick-iconic-edition-sucre" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Kjaer Weis" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Kjaer Weis</a>

Kjaer Weis Lipstick


When seeking ways to make her beauty routine more sustainable, Jhánneu says she looks for makeup brands that sell individual shade refills to eliminate unnecessary packaging. "I love this brand because nearly everything they sell is plastic-free," she explains. "It makes it easy to recycle packaging, or you can keep it and purchase new colors you want to try." Jhánneu also swears by the Kjaer Weis cream foundation, a clean formula that offers refillable pods.

Kjaer Weis Lipstick, $, available at Kjaer Weis
<h2>Tree Naturals Hair Detangling Conditioner Bar</h2><br>Jhánneu encourages her followers with <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/natural-hair-styles" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:natural hair" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">natural hair</a> to explore low-waste bars versus hefty plastic bottles. To add slip to her curls, she turns to this detangling bar from Tree Naturals, which is also <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2020/06/9851835/black-owned-beauty-brands-products" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Black-owned" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Black-owned</a>. "Even I was a little skeptical about a bar conditioner, but this works well," she says. The bar comes in biodegradable paper and cardboard packaging, which you can use to store the product and easily recycle when it runs its course.<br><br><strong>Tree Naturals</strong> Hair Detangling Conditioner Bar, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Ftreenaturals.com%2Fproducts%2Fdetangling-conditioner-bar" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tree Naturals" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Tree Naturals</a>

Tree Naturals Hair Detangling Conditioner Bar


Jhánneu encourages her followers with natural hair to explore low-waste bars versus hefty plastic bottles. To add slip to her curls, she turns to this detangling bar from Tree Naturals, which is also Black-owned. "Even I was a little skeptical about a bar conditioner, but this works well," she says. The bar comes in biodegradable paper and cardboard packaging, which you can use to store the product and easily recycle when it runs its course.

Tree Naturals Hair Detangling Conditioner Bar, $, available at Tree Naturals
<h2>Pacifica Clean Mascara</h2><br>In addition to being free of potentially harmful and irritating ingredients, Jhánneu likes this Pacifica mascara because of its generous take-back program, which allows you to mail back up to eight empty items and simultaneously earn rewards points toward a new purchase.<br><br><strong>Pacifica</strong> Clean Mascara, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pacificabeauty.com%2Fcollections%2Fmascara%3Fgclid%3DCj0KCQjwqrb7BRDlARIsACwGad5EZm8T86SIYdgxNPB79YPFOlCgLsJFs9LZJC7XhudXRuFUcgYuhuEaAh2FEALw_wcB" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pacifica" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Pacifica</a>

Pacifica Clean Mascara


In addition to being free of potentially harmful and irritating ingredients, Jhánneu likes this Pacifica mascara because of its generous take-back program, which allows you to mail back up to eight empty items and simultaneously earn rewards points toward a new purchase.

Pacifica Clean Mascara, $, available at Pacifica
<h2>Butter & Lye Moisturizing Rosehip Face and Body Soap</h2><br>Jhánneu recommends multi-use bars to streamline your shower routine (and to reduce waste). She uses this soap bar from Butter & Lye for her face, body, and even for shaving. "You can purchase the naked bar or get it in a cardboard box which can be recycled," she says. "Once it's gone — it's gone." <br><br><strong>Butter And Lye</strong> Moisturizing Rosehip Face and Body Soap, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbutterandlye.com%2Fproduct%2Frosehip-soap%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Butter And Lye" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Butter And Lye</a>

Butter & Lye Moisturizing Rosehip Face and Body Soap


Jhánneu recommends multi-use bars to streamline your shower routine (and to reduce waste). She uses this soap bar from Butter & Lye for her face, body, and even for shaving. "You can purchase the naked bar or get it in a cardboard box which can be recycled," she says. "Once it's gone — it's gone."

Butter And Lye Moisturizing Rosehip Face and Body Soap, $, available at Butter And Lye
<h2>Foxbrim Orange Blossom Water Toner</h2><br><br>Green uses this 100% natural toner made of orange blossom water to balance her skin. "This comes in a glass bottle, so when I finish the liquid, I save the packaging for any potential DIY projects or plant propagation," she says. <br><br><strong>Foxbrim</strong> Orange Blossom Water Toner, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxbrim.com%2Fproducts%2Forange-blossom-water-toner" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Foxbrim" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Foxbrim</a>

Foxbrim Orange Blossom Water Toner



Green uses this 100% natural toner made of orange blossom water to balance her skin. "This comes in a glass bottle, so when I finish the liquid, I save the packaging for any potential DIY projects or plant propagation," she says.

Foxbrim Orange Blossom Water Toner, $, available at Foxbrim
<h2>Clove & Hallow Pressed Mineral Foundation Refill Pan</h2><br>Green also opts for refillable color cosmetics, like this vegan foundation compact. "When the foundation is finished, I toss the metal pan in curbside recycling," she says. "The tricky items are plastic spray nozzles and lipstick tubes, which are not widely accepted with most public recycling programs."<br><br>In Atlanta, where Green lives, she utilizes the <a href="https://livethrive.org/charm/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials)" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials)</a> service to recycle more challenging items. She also recommends <a href="https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:TerraCycle" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">TerraCycle</a>, a nationwide recycling program that partners with various companies and offers direct-to-consumer solutions.<br><br><strong>Clove + Hallow</strong> Pressed Mineral Foundation Refill Pan, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcloveandhallow.com%2Fcollections%2Fcomplexion%2Fproducts%2Fpressed-mineral-foundation-refill-pan" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Clove + Hallow" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Clove + Hallow</a>

Clove & Hallow Pressed Mineral Foundation Refill Pan


Green also opts for refillable color cosmetics, like this vegan foundation compact. "When the foundation is finished, I toss the metal pan in curbside recycling," she says. "The tricky items are plastic spray nozzles and lipstick tubes, which are not widely accepted with most public recycling programs."

In Atlanta, where Green lives, she utilizes the CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials) service to recycle more challenging items. She also recommends TerraCycle, a nationwide recycling program that partners with various companies and offers direct-to-consumer solutions.

Clove + Hallow Pressed Mineral Foundation Refill Pan, $, available at Clove + Hallow
<h2>Marley's Monsters Reusable Cotton Rounds</h2><br>Green also uses reusable cotton rounds to sweep on skincare (and remove makeup). Unlike disposable rounds, these can be washed with your laundry for continued use. <br><br><strong>Marleys Monsters</strong> Cotton Facial Rounds - 20 pack, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpackagefreeshop.com%2Fproducts%2Forganic-cotton-facial-rounds-20-pack" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Package Free" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Package Free</a>

Marley's Monsters Reusable Cotton Rounds


Green also uses reusable cotton rounds to sweep on skincare (and remove makeup). Unlike disposable rounds, these can be washed with your laundry for continued use.

Marleys Monsters Cotton Facial Rounds - 20 pack, $, available at Package Free
<h2>Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition</h2>Chanel uses this clean moisturizer with squalane, Rosehip seed, olive, and avocado oils to nourish her skin. It comes in a glass bottle that can be upcycled or recycled when the formula runs out. <br><br><strong>Indie Lee</strong> Daily Skin Nutrition, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Findielee.com%2Fproducts%2Fdaily-skin-nutrition" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Indie Lee" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Indie Lee</a>

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition

Chanel uses this clean moisturizer with squalane, Rosehip seed, olive, and avocado oils to nourish her skin. It comes in a glass bottle that can be upcycled or recycled when the formula runs out.

Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition, $, available at Indie Lee
<h2>Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation</h2><br>Chanel's daily makeup routine is minimal, but for special occasions, she turns to this Pacifica foundation. "If I have a shoot I love using this foundation in the shade 16NT," she says. Like Jhánneu, she also utilizes Pacifica's take-back program.<br><br><strong>Pacifica</strong> Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ulta.com%2Falight-clean-foundation%3FproductId%3Dpimprod2003537%26sku%3D2540744%26cmpid%3DPS_Non%21google%21Product_Listing_Ads%26cagpspn%3Dpla%26CATCI%3Dpla-683425019412%26CAAGID%3D107718645596%26CAWELAID%3D330000200001690729%26CATARGETID%3D330000200002459488%26CADevice%3Dc%26gclid%3DCjwKCAjwh7H7BRBBEiwAPXjadnmsMweOpCVqW3r8fDN9XR2MuwuC33kGZgcUCtw7ZPRoFnvooCY7HhoCl78QAvD_BwE" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Ulta" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Ulta</a>

Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation


Chanel's daily makeup routine is minimal, but for special occasions, she turns to this Pacifica foundation. "If I have a shoot I love using this foundation in the shade 16NT," she says. Like Jhánneu, she also utilizes Pacifica's take-back program.

Pacifica Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation, $, available at Ulta
<h2>W3ll People Expressionist Pro Mascara</h2><br>Chanel approves of this cult-favorite W3ll People mascara, which she recycles using TerraCycle. "I clean out the tube and dispose of the excess product in a jar," she says. "Then, I ship the bottles to be recycled with the free <a href="https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/garnier#@40.77027075200147:-95.93705549677736zoom:4" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Terracycle x Garnier recycling program" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Terracycle x Garnier recycling program</a>. <br><br>Chanel uses this process with most of her foundations, moisturizers, and bottled cosmetics and ships out emptied items in bulk once a year. She also collects all-paper packaging and does bulk drop-offs at a local recycling center every few months. However, her ultimate advice if you're in the early stages of a more sustainable routine is to use what you have. "The most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already own," she says. "Once you use up all of those products, recycle them, <em>then</em> purchase sustainably."<br><br><strong>W3LL People</strong> Expressionist Pro Mascara, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.w3llpeople.com%2Fexpressionist-pro-mascara%2F150010-F.html%3Fgclid%3DCjwKCAjwh7H7BRBBEiwAPXjadjRPtIIEE3a7rovuKRPKsam26PmuZLatT4Grapd-idJNw-GzFVtvmRoCwMwQAvD_BwE" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:W3ll People" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">W3ll People</a>

W3ll People Expressionist Pro Mascara


Chanel approves of this cult-favorite W3ll People mascara, which she recycles using TerraCycle. "I clean out the tube and dispose of the excess product in a jar," she says. "Then, I ship the bottles to be recycled with the free Terracycle x Garnier recycling program.

Chanel uses this process with most of her foundations, moisturizers, and bottled cosmetics and ships out emptied items in bulk once a year. She also collects all-paper packaging and does bulk drop-offs at a local recycling center every few months. However, her ultimate advice if you're in the early stages of a more sustainable routine is to use what you have. "The most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already own," she says. "Once you use up all of those products, recycle them, then purchase sustainably."

W3LL People Expressionist Pro Mascara, $, available at W3ll People

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