Beauty Buddies: 4 Ways to Improve Sustainability (and still have fun)
by Heather Smith on Jan 18, 2022
It's time to make a beauty BFF!
We love eco friendly beauty tips almost as much as we love zero waste skincare products. Having beauty buddies is a great way to up your sustainability game.
Taking a spa day with your BFF is always wonderful, but there is a lot you can do at home to improve your ecological footprint.
What is sustainable beauty?
Sustainable beauty has a broad definition because there are so many areas where improvements can be made. Trying to go 100% zero waste is probably impossible. With education and advocacy we hope the culture will start to shift.
One of the 10 Easy Sustainable Beauty Tips we recommend is having a beauty BFF.
This is a fun one!
When it comes to BFFs, sharing is caring. Think about your cosmetics graveyard that is filled with unused samples and products. We all have one. They're often full-sized items that we just don't part with, but we also don't use.
Swapping and sharing is like the ultimate free sample, and who better to do this with than your besties?
Shelf-life and contamination are both things to consider. Products that touch your body directly (ie. mascara brush) are not great to swap with friends. Something like a lipstick or balm you only tried once might be ok depending on your own belief about risk (some of us kiss our friends and share straws, some of us don't). Sharing makeup is generally a bad idea - significant eye infections can arise from shared mascara brushes or shadow brushes plus cold sores (oral herpes) could be transmitted with lipsticks.
Products that are dispensed by pump, pouring, or droppers are your best bet for this reuse tactic.
Here is a list of ways that you and your beauty BFF can reduce cosmetics waste and have a lot of fun:
#1 Cancel Your Beauty Sample Subscriptions
Ok, we know this doesn't sound fun. Just bear with us.
Beauty samples create millions (?billions) of short-term, single-use plastics that are almost never recyclable. More than half the time, you just throw them straight into the garbage or your cosmetics graveyard.
Tell the cosmetics industry this isn't acceptable. Tell them with your voice and your actions. We can force change and more sustainable options do exist.
#2 Throw a "Throwaway" Party
Get your beauty buddies together have everybody bring the contents of their cosmetics graveyard. Dump it all out on the bed and make sure to take some pictures (and of course, wine is optional).
The first thing to do is to claim what you love!
After that, sort everything into 3 piles.
The first pile is for 100% unused/unopened products. The second pile is for all those things you opened, "tried once" but didn't like. The third pile is for the things you know should be thrown away (VERY old products, those used more than once or twice, those with a high potential for contamination).
Starting with the 100% unopened pile, do not open them to just check them out. These make excellent gifts and stocking stuffers, especially when full-sized. There is also likely a large number that would be suitable to donate to a local Woman's or Homeless Shelter. You also probably have a large number of little zippered cosmetics bags, so get creative and make care packages for family, teachers, etc.
After that, you're going to be left with a pile that has been opened/touched, things that are too small (or crappy) to go into your care packages, and the trash pile. Once you've decided they aren't useable, that means they're trash. Try to see if any of them are recyclable and, if so, wash them out and get them sorted into the correct bin. If any of the containers are reusable, then rescue them and keep them for another purpose. Washing them out isn't always so simple though, read more about liquid microplastics in this article.
#3 Pair Up for Purchases
Find a friend with similar skin-type and shopping preferences as you and agree to go halvsies on future full-sized purchases. When it arrives, divide it up into 2 (hint: great way to reuse some of the leftover containers from the party). This can reduce further additions to the cosmetics graveyard especially if you want to try something but aren't sure if it will be a 'keeper' or not.
Buying bulk or larger sized products is another great idea. There are some incredibly expensive luxury products out there. Often, the price per ounce is **much** lower if you buy the large version. Splitting with a friend or two then dividing it up, you end up with more product than you would have (and paid much less for it) than if you had purchased the sample size.
#4 Share a Subscription
If you can't do without beauty samples, start a club and share. After going through the process of seeing (and purging) your cosmetics graveyards filled with all that plastic, you can now go about re-subscribing in a way that takes sustainability into account. Two or three friends sharing one subscription is way better than the alternative. If you spend some time online researching, you can also find companies that specialize in more sustainable subscription boxes. This article from EcoHub should get you started.
Be deliberate in your choice. Cosmetics are about fun and joy and beauty, but don't forget our earth.
Do you have a beauty BFF? Will you be throwing a throwaway party soon?