By Charlotte Simpson
By now, you’ve probably noticed the sharp uptick in single-use plastics and disposable items that were used during lockdown, and have been used in the months following re-opening. We are using disposable masks and going through bottles of hand sanitiser.
Cafés are no longer allowing keep cups, and menus and cutlery have been replaced with disposable, take-away options. You may even be buying pre-packaged groceries (after I witnessed a woman sneezing and coughing down the aisles of the produce section, with mortified fellow shoppers looking on, you’ll have to forgive me for being less sustainable in this area).
This made me wonder how I could offset my plastic-use in other ways, and the easiest way to do that was making some simple beauty swaps in the areas of skincare, body care and haircare. As an indicator, a package-free solid shampoo bar from Ethique has only 8% of the carbon footprint of a liquid shampoo bottle, and it saves three of those bottles from landfill. With this knowledge, and after exploring other brands such as Drunk Elephant, Lush and Viva La Body that offer plastic- and packaging-free beauty items, I created a routine with products from that I would try for five days, to see what products would later become part of my everyday beauty regimen.
On day one, I was super eager to try as many products as I could in the one routine. I started with Ethique’s Heali Kiwi shampoo bar, The Guardian conditioner bar, and Lush’s Scrubee body buffer. The shampoo bar is described as being gentle on sensitive scalps. As my scalp is prone to itchiness from eczema, I figured this would be the best one to start with.
For my first shampoo, I swiped the Heali Kiwi bar across the top of my hair 3-4 times as directed. It really just felt like I was wiping soap on my hair! It wasn’t until I rinsed it off and did a second shampoo that it created a nice, soft lather.
To condition, I swiped The Guardian conditioner bar about 12 times along the mid-lengths to ends of my hair. The directions state 4-5 swipes, however I could not feel enough product on my hair, so I went crazy with it! This bar is suited to dry hair, as it contains lots of cocoa butter and coconut oil to add moisture.
Last in my shower routine was Scrubee. This cute little bee has ground coconut shells on the top, and nourishing shea and cocoa butter on the base. I found the best way to use this was to exfoliate with the rough side, rinse it off, then use the butter side to moisturise while still wet. When you rinse that off, your skin will still be soft and silky.
To cleanse, I used the Drunk Elephant JuJu Bar. This bar comes as a set in a travel size pouch with their Pekee bar. The Pekee bar is an everyday cleanser, whereas the JuJu bar is a physical exfoliating cleanser with clay, which is a lot better for the environment (and your skin) than microbead cleansers. My face felt super clean after using it, however this isn’t an everyday cleanser, due to it being a bit rougher on the skin.
An important thing to note is that it wasn’t until I opened the case that I realised each bar in the cleansing duo came wrapped in a thin layer of plastic! While this was an annoyance, it was only a little bit of plastic compared to the waste from a traditional bottle.
To moisturise, I used the Viva La Body Night Serum, with the Viva La Body Day Cream layered over the top. First impressions? Wheeeeewww. The night serum had a very overwhelming earthy smell, like I literally rubbed my face in dirt. But if you can get past that, it does have lots of nourishing oils such as jojoba, rosehip, and carrot. The directions say to put a dab on the forehead and each cheek, but I ended up swiping the bar across my face as it wouldn’t spread. The day cream had a much more pleasant smell – imagine walking through a rose garden in spring. It’s filled with apricot kernel oil and shea butter, and was much easier to apply with a few swipes on the face.
I started my morning routine by cleansing with the Pekee bar to remove any residual oils left on my face from the night before. This bar was much gentler on my skin, as it doesn’t have any exfoliating granules. The real test was next. How does the day cream bar sit under makeup and sunscreen? As it turns out – wonderfully! It just felt like I was wearing a regular moisturiser, and my makeup stayed on throughout the day.
In the evening, I tried Ethique’s Wonderbar, which claims to be a shaving bar, conditioner, and moisturiser all in one. I used it as a shaving cream, but since the product doesn’t lather (and is very small), it did take a long time to actually shave with it! In this case, shaving with just regular soap would work better. Tip: for extra glowy skin exfoliate with the Scrubee prior to shaving.
I finished my night routine with the Pekee bar, which removed makeup with two cleanses, then applied the night serum and day cream.
In the morning I repeated the Pekee and day cream routine.
That evening my hair felt a little oily (perhaps I did over-condition?) so I used Ethique’s St Clements shampoo bar for oily hair. It’s filled with lime and orange oils which act as astringents to cleanse the scalp. I applied the bar the same way as I did with the Heali Kiwi bar, and followed it up with the Guardian conditioner bar again. I used Scrubee, and did my usual skincare combination of peeke, night serum, and day cream.
After applying my Pekee and day cream combination, I noticed that my hair was looking a tad frizzy and dry. Since I do have naturally dry hair, the St Clements bar may have been a bit too strong! However If you do have an oily scalp, or you like a deep cleanse every so often, then this bar would work for you.
In the evening I switched it up and exfoliated with the JuJu bar, as I noticed a few whiteheads starting to appear. I followed this with the usual night serum and day cream combination.
Remember how I noticed a few whiteheads on day four? Well, multiply that by ten! In the morning I noticed my face was COVERED in them, and my skin had a very strange bumpy texture.
This may have been caused by the rich oils in the night serum and day cream, and the fact that I wasn’t using my regular chemical exfoliators. For my morning routine I used the Pekee bar, followed by my regular moisturiser instead of the day cream bar.
My poor Scrubee is disappearing so quickly! But that little bee has been one of my favourite products, so he’ll definitely be getting re-purchased! In the night, I used Ethique’s Frizz Wrangler bar followed by The Guardian conditioner bar, to tame that frizz from day three’s wash. The Frizz Wrangler felt similar to Heali Kiwi, and left my hair soft from the coconut oil and cocoa butter. For my skincare routine, I used the Pekee cleanser, followed by a lactic acid serum (to try and zap those whiteheads!) and my regular moisturiser.
I stopped using the day cream and night serum on my face, and instead I’ve been using them on my hands – a much needed treatment after sanitising multiple times per day! After a week of using my regular chemical exfoliators and moisturiser, the bumps on my face disappeared (thank god!). Now that Scrubee has disappeared, the JuJu bar has now become my body exfoliator, since I’m no longer using it for my face. My favourite products have been the shampoos and conditioner as it’s gentle and makes my hair super curly! I will definitely be repurchasing those and the Scrubee.
It’s great to know that there are effective plastic-free and packaging-free beauty items on the market that can help us make a more sustainable switch in our routines, and I only tried a handful of the options out there. The beauty industry creates 120 billion units of packaging waste every year, and considering that 91% of plastics don’t get recycled, the more we can do to eliminate our reliance on it and one day eradicate its use, the better.
Will you be trying a zero waste routine, and are there any products here that you like the sound of? Show us on Instagram by tagging #bubblemagazine and/or @bubble_mag_
Our editor's top pick this season:
ASUVI is a Sydney based brand focussed on style, simplicity and sustainability at the forefront of their mission. Their first product is the natural, refillable deodorant stick. The refill tubes are completely biodegradable (a world first) and the ingredients are both natural and sustainable.
Founder Thomas Richard said “ASUVI was born out of wanting to create something better for our bodies and the planet, so I continuously look at every aspect of my business to ensure we make sustainable, innovative and ethical choices and support environmental initiatives.
"We believe that the products we use should nurture our bodies and reduce the harm to the natural world on which we depend. Which is why with every purchase of an ASUVI deodorant, people will be helping to divert plastic from landfill, reduce single use plastic waste and reduce their carbon footprint.”
bubble. magazine editor Claudia Siron said: “The deodorants are aesthetically pleasing (especially the little miniature ones!) with their minimalistic style and array of textures. I think the best part of this brand is the fact that the deodorant sticks are sustainably produced – something that is extremely important to Gen Zs and millennials when purchasing beauty products.
"The deodorant sticks are all natural and boast sweet, subtle aromas. It’s definitely the perfect purchase this season when zero-waste is at the forefront of your mental checklist when desiring to buy ethically.