This year is something out of a futuristic fiction novel that not even the most esoteric thinkers could have dreamt up. Yes, 2020 just keeps on giving us one punch - or punchline - after the next.
But what I want to talk is less about what's in our face, but crucial and imperative and life-altering nonetheless. It's the plastic that's coming from all of the personal care products that we use every single day. And if you're someone who grew up in the 80s or 90s, you know that your personal care stash has increased exponentially over the years. I, like most people I know, have fallen into the trap of believing that one more product will make my hair shinier, my skin dewier and my hands softer. And there's nothing wrong with loving yourself and wanting to invest in feeling your best.
But the real tragedy is that nearly all - and I would venture to guess that 99% - of personal care products are used for 3 months or less and are packaged in plastic, deeming them practically single-use.
You can't make up the fact that our landfills, oceans and water sources are filled with plastics. We are producing 300 million tons of plastic every year, the vast majority of which is not recycled. And plastic, almost by its nature is toxic. So here we are, ingesting plastic and wreaking havoc on the environment and our bodies.
I went into further depth in my last article about home care products. Today, we're going to dive into personal care products, explore some brands trying to solve the problem and ways you can eliminate plastics in your personal care regime.
I think it is hard for any brand to get it perfect. The brands below are working towards a cleaner, more plastic-free (and toxin-free) solution.
Lush Cosmetics Lush is one of my all-time favorite brands. They're affordable, funky and use fresh and non-toxic ingredients. They offer products ranging from bath, hair, skin and face. Most of their packaging is plastic-free and they have innovative formats, like shampoo and conditioner bars. The in-store experience IS an experience, so if you have not been to a Lush store, I recommend a pop in, masked of course. In my last order, I loved that my shampoo bars came packaged in a simple paper bag with a label. Talk about no-frills! For those products that do come in pots or jars, the packaging can be returned to Lush for a discount.
The Ordinary Another Canadian brand that I love. The Ordinary really specializes in skincare treatments, like Vitamin C serum, Retinol creams, various types of exfoliating acids and hydrating serums. What I love about The Ordinary is that they're ridiculously affordable. Most serums are packaged in glass dropper bottles. Some products, like their 30% Vitamin C serum come packaged in plastic. I've noticed however, that these tend to have a pretty long shelf life because you only need a tiny bit daily. You can also check out my review of The Ordinary in my Instagram Stories.
by Humankind is a new-ish Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brand that's focused on clean personal care products that can be purchased on a subscription or refill basis. I have not tried this brand, so cannot speak to the efficacy. The product suite is focused on your basic needs, like mouthwash, haircare and deodorant. I love the innovative mouthwash drops - they're so handy. by Humankind is a bit pricier than the brands above.
What to look for
When you're at the drugstore, department store or shopping online, here are some things you can look out for to find less plastic in your personal care products.
Look for products that are "package-free", like soaps or bars, or anything that you can buy in bulk.
Look for products that are in concentrated form. I like to get concentrated hydrating oils from Amazon that I can mix with a carrier oil. I love Evening Primrose Oil and Sea Buckthorn seed oil. This is also a really affordable alternative to some higher-end brands.
Look for packaging is paper, glass or tin. We all know that paper biodegrades pretty easily. It turns out that it takes a really long time for metal, and almost a million years for glass to biodegrade naturally. Why would this be better than plastic, you ask? Well, all of these materials are already found in nature and they don't contain toxic chemicals that can leach into your body or our water sources.
Ask about shipment packaging. You might find a perfect product, packaged in glass or tin, but then it shows up at your door wrapped in bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts. This happened to me when I ordered a bougie body cream from a boutique in Detroit. I will not name the brand, but sufficed to say that I will not be ordering from that brand again.
Do it yourself
Possibly the easiest way to control your plastic consumption when considering your personal care products is to make some of them yourself. I am certainly not an expert in this field, but I have experimented a LOT and created a number of products for our family that just work.
Toothpaste: This toothpaste is so simple and is by far the most whitening toothpaste I've ever used. I've been to the dentist twice since starting and they've commented that my teeth have never looked healthier.
Please experiment with this recipe. There are so many oils to choose from based on your needs and skin type. We love this oil at night and wake up with super dewey skin.
I call this baby butter because I use it on my baby. It's a simple formula that you can make over and over again with bulk ingredients.
I want to hear your journey for reducing plastic and any additional tips you might have to create less waste while still looking beautiful.