16 Easy, Achievable Sustainable Beauty Tips You Can Start Today

Photo by Camille Robiou Du Pont

From simplifying your skincare routine to looking for plastic-free packaging, these are the sustainable beauty tips to embrace every day, not just on Earth Day.

Switching to sustainable beauty choices requires breaking out of old habits and changes in our daily actions, which as a transformative move can feel overwhelming. But the journey begins right when we start becoming more aware of how our consumption, purchases and behaviour influence the state of our planet at an individual level. Our carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by our lifestyle. What, how and how much we consume and discard contributes to the disruption of balance on our planet, threatening its future. The beauty industry generates over 120 billion units of packaging every year, plastic being primary—most of which remain in landfills, clogging ecosystems for centuries. That’s just to give you an overview of the multitude of collective carbon footprint caused by humans. So, here are 16 easy, achievable sustainable beauty you can start today to bring that number down.

Ask yourself

“How will this add value to my life without having a negative impact on my planet?” The first step towards living sustainably is reducing our consumption. The less we consume, the less we discard. The next time you add to cart, ask yourself questions like: Why do I need this? Can it be replaced by something I have already? How often am I going to use this? Can I find a sustainable option to replace my current product?

Shop from sources that will help you in your journey

E-commerce and retail stores are following practices to promote a greener future. Attractive discounts aside, look instead for those who follow principles to house eco-conscious brands, are dialling back on plastic packaging for delivery and encouraging programs to send your empties back. Beauty e-retailer uses 100% recyclable packaging that is free of plastic, and has an Empties program to recycle and upcycle empties. The Body Shop launched its first flagship sustainable activist workshop store in Mumbai, with a Return Recycle Repeat program, through which the brand pledges to drive up its recycling goals to at least 1 million plastic bottles by 2024.

Simplify your skincare routine

Keep it simple. “A lot of people are using too much skincare when in reality, their routine could be stripped back to essentials – i.e. a cleanser, basic moisturiser, sunscreen, retinoid,” says Dr Anjali Mahto. Practise a slower approach to your skincare where everything you do—from purchasing an eco-friendly product with toxic-free ingredients to prioritising holistic wellness—embraces slow, conscious living.

Look for plastic-free packaging

Plastic is the most abundant form of debris found in the ocean, with at least 14 million tons of it ending up in the sea every year. Look for brands consciously creating sustainable or plastic-free packaging that is easier to recycle, like glass or aluminium. The Tribe Concept’s products that are only made in powder and cold-pressed oil form come in aluminium tins and bottles. Same with most products at Vilvah, including body wash and shampoos. Neemli Naturals’ products come in glass, with an outer packaging of recycled paper.

Discard right

Separate as many materials as you can from your empty product—the label, the pump; wash out the contents inside and let it dry. For your product to have a recyclable future, do your bit to make it easy.

Reuse and repurpose

Turn your empty glass and candle jars into holders for things like brushes, keys or flowers. Use your old cotton T shirts as head towels after a shower instead, which is gentler on wet hair.


Since its mainstream infiltration in the 1950s, only 9% of plastic has been recycled. Switching to refillables will help reduce wastage. Haircare brand weDo/ Professional’s refill pouches for their shampoo, conditioner and hair mask use at least 80% less plastic per ml compared to a plastic shampoo bottle. At asa Beauty, you can find refills for your lipsticks, concealer and more.

Switch to zero-waste products

Or simply look for products that don’t need any discarding at all, like shampoo and soap bars. Try brands like The Switch Fix for shampoo and conditioner bars, or Bare Necessities whose every product—think handwash and tooth powers to natural loofahs and reusable wipes—is based on a zero-waste philosophy.

Pay attention  to your water consumption

A lot of beauty consumption correlates to how much water we use with it. Every little drop or change in your action counts, like not leaving your tap running while you soap your hand or brush your teeth. Try shampoo and soap bars, like those from Earth Rhythm or Fiducia Botanicals instead of liquid ones in plastic bottles. Consciously reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower.

Find multipurpose solutions

By opting for products that do more than one job, you end up using less in general. A tint for the lips, cheeks and eyes, like Tsara’s Universal Blush Tint, or a single serum, like d’you’s Hustle that is a well-rounded blend of actives and ingredients that target multiple issues.

Whatever amount of cleansing product you’re using, reduce it

The beauty of our skin is that it has the ability to heal itself. You don’t need a lot of products or too often to keep it clean and nourished. We equate overuse to effectiveness, which is often not the case. For example, a coin-sized amount of cleansers (shampoo, face wash) are enough, emulsify it in your hand before you begin cleaning.

Shop from responsible beauty brands

Start with the ones you are currently consuming, studying the back of the bottle, researching ingredients and their source, reading up on their sustainable initiatives. Discover slow beauty brands that focus on ethical ingredient sourcing, cruelty-free practices, fair trade and other mindful initiatives, like Purearth, Moringa What and Pahadi Local.

You don’t need single-use wipes

We don’t realise how many single-use products occupy our shelf spaces. Like the convenient makeup remover and cotton wipes we instinctively reach for to clean our face, in turn dirtying the planet (globally, over 1 billion wet wipes are discarded every year which can take up to 100 years to biodegrade). Look for cleansing balms, bars or oils instead that will really take the gunk out of your face or soft, antibacterial makeup remover towels like the Cinnamon Goodnight Makeup Remover Towel or Earthist Bamboo Reusable Makeup Remover which you can use for up to 10 years!

Replace plastic tools

Everything from our loofah and reusable cotton buds to toothbrush and comb can be made from eco-friendly materials. Look for anything other than plastic from zero-waste brands and retailers like Brown Living, Beco, Ecobaato and Ethico.

Read up on recycling programs from brands

Brands are making efforts to inculcate eco-conscious practices and philosophies—notice them, support them. Many like Plum, Juicy Chemistry, The Body Shop, Forest Essentials accept empty containers with rewards and redeemable points under their recycling programme.

Shop locally, physically

If you can get it at your local store, avoid ordering it online. A lot of shipping material goes into bringing a product to your doorstep—shipping container, labels, tapes, packing paper, and the fossil fuels burned to transport them to you. Stores also have refill and recycle programs where you could take your old container or drop off your empties to get them recycled, and receive rewards for your action.

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