Using chemical beauty products hurts us in the long run, as well as the environment. Fix this with these 10 easy ways to go green for healthier skin and hair.
Here’s a quick experiment: count the number of products you use for your skin and hair care routine. Count everything, including the tools you use. Now ask your mother and your grandmother to do the same. Compare numbers.
What do you find? If you’re like most women your age, you’ll find that you use several more products than your mother or grandmother, and they’ve probably never even heard of some of the things you use!
It is said that on an average, a woman uses at least a dozen products a day, the total ingredients of which amount to as many as 160 chemicals. Can you imagine wilfully consuming 160 chemicals every day? Well that’s what we’re doing to our bodies. Our skin is our largest organ and whatever we apply externally lands up in our circulatory system eventually. The result is endocrine disorders, cancers and all kinds of other illnesses.
What’s more, our beauty products aren’t just harming us, they’re also harming the planet. All those chemicals are being washed down the drain to pollute our soil and water resources. Micro-beads in our scrubs are killing aquatic wildlife while many animals are being subject to product testing.
That’s not all – there’s also all that packaging. The National Geographic reports that almost 70% of the plastic packaging from personal care products ends up in landfills. Just think about it: that plastic bottle of your lotion will be around for much longer than you. Now think about how many bottles you’ve used up so far.
It’s a scary thought, but there are ways to work around this without sacrificing personal care. Here are 10 easy ways to green your routine for healthier skin and hair, as well as a cleaner planet.
10 Easy Ways to go Green for Healthier Skin and Hair
1. Use less water
Water is a resource that’s fast reducing and it has become more important than ever to conserve water. Since most of our skin and hair care routines use up water, this is a good place to start.
Cut down your shower time to less than 10 minutes. Opt for a bucket bath instead of a shower, or opt for a water saving shower head. Don’t wash your hair too frequently – it dries out the scalp and strips the hair of its natural oils.
Instead, choose a good quality shampoo that’ll ensure its effects last for longer. To get instant freshness in between washes, use a dry shampoo. You can make one yourself at home using corn starch. It also makes your hair easier to style.
2. Stop using heating appliances
Heating appliances use up a whole lot of electricity, which takes its toll on our resources. It also turns out bad for us in the long run. For instance, using hot water for your shower dries out your skin and is particularly damaging for hair, making it brittle and prone to breakage. Cool water constricts blood vessels in the skin making it firmer and also closes the cuticles on the hair shaft, making it smoother.
Heating appliances like curling irons and straighteners also affect hair quality and can cause long term damage. Instead, work with your hair’s natural texture to style it, or opt for heat-free methods like rollers to curl your hair.
3. Read the labels
Beauty products have huge marketing campaigns, whether it’s a skin care product, a hair care product or makeup. However, the marketing claims are one story, and the truth is often another. Many products that use buzzwords like ‘organic’, ‘natural’ or ‘herbal’ are quite likely to be the opposite!
That’s why it’s so important to read the label of every product carefully before buying. It is equally important to know what a label is expected to mean. For instance, an organic product should contain at least 95% organic ingredients. A vegan product should not contain any trace of a single animal product, including honey.
4. Know your ingredients
Reading the label is important, but we also need to be able to decode what it says in the ingredient list. There are many common toxic ingredients that can be found across product ranges for skin and hair care. These include parabens, phthalates, mercury, petroleum derivatives, toluene, lead, formaldehyde, polyethylene, DMDM hydantoin, diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA), PEGs, quaternium 15, BHA and any kind of fragrance.
All these chemicals have been linked with severan cancers as well as reproductive disorders and congenital defects in newborn babies. They’re just as harmful for our planet too. Instead, opt for plant-based minerals, vitamins, active enzymes and phytonutrients. Botanical extracts are much more potent than chemical ingredients, without any of the side effects.
5. Go the DIY route
Remember the experiment at the beginning where you asked your grandmother about her beauty products? Chances are most of it was based in her kitchen! DIY skin and hair care products are much more effective than commercial products, especially since we can customize the treatment exactly the way we need it.
Every part of our kitchen can be used in skin and hair care. Fruits – papaya, lemon, avocado; spices – turmeric, ginger, cinnamon; pantry staples – coconut oil, yogurt, eggs, honey, sugar and apple cider vinegar are all ingredients that can be used for all kinds of treatments.
These ingredients are completely toxin-free and they also generate almost zero waste. And when it comes to packaging, you don’t need to worry about adding more things to landfills.
6. Use every last drop
Make the most of what you have and use up every last drop of every product you have. If we were to collect all the wasted product in the jars and bottles we throw away, we would realize how it all adds up.
If it’s in a jar, use a cotton swab to scrape out every bit from the edges and corners, if it’s a square container. You can add some water to an almost empty shampoo bottle to dilute whatever is left so it flows out easily. When products are about to end, it’s better to stand them up upside down and let gravity do its job.
Make sure you squeeze out every last bit from your tube. If you promise to do this before buying new products, it will cut down on the number of products you buy.
7. Use multipurpose products
They say that the average woman has around 40 personal care products at any given time. That’s a lot of chemicals and a lot of plastic! This number can be significantly cut down by using products that do double or triple duty.
Cosmetics companies make us believe we need a different product for each need, but that is not true. For instance, a cream that is both a moisturizer and a sunscreen saves two products – three if it also includes a tint so you can replace a foundation. A single lip tint can also work as a blush and eye shadow. Many natural body washes also work for the hair.
Using multipurpose products like these not only saves us time and money, but it also reduces the chemical assault on our bodies. If you’re making your own products, you can cut this down even further. Honey, for example, is an ingredient that you can consume, apply on your skin and also on your hair.
8. Consider the packaging
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problems faced with commercial skin and hair care products is because of the packaging. If we want to truly green our routine, we need to solve this problem as well, and this is probably the most difficult to do.
However, some companies are making a change. For instance, the Lush Company has stopped selling their shampoos and conditioners as liquid; instead, they’ve removed the water from it and turned it into a bar, which can now be easily packaged and sold in paper.
Choose companies like this, which find ways to avoid plastic packaging and opt for paper or tin. You can also go with plastic that is biodegradable. Another tip is to stop buying travel sizes or samples. Buy large bottles and decant to smaller ones when traveling. This way, you can cut down on a lot of plastic waste.
9. Go green with beauty tools
When we think of plastic filling up landfills, it isn’t just the bottles and jars – it’s also the tools we use. From our toothbrush to our makeup brushes, choosing good quality tools made of sustainable materials will go a long way in cutting down waste and making our routines greener.
Another important point to consider here is choosing reusable over disposable. Cotton swabs, face wipes, ear buds etc. are things we use and throw and not all of them are biodegradable. Instead, either choose washable and reusable versions or buy disposable varieties that are biodegradable.
10. Support ethical brands
When trying to make your routine green for your skin and hair, it’s also worth your while to do some research and support the brands who manufacture their products using ethical means. Companies which support local farmers for ingredients and reduce their carbon footprint have more of a conscience than large corporates.
Read up about the company online and check out their fair trade and animal testing policies. Ethical companies also care about the people. For example, some companies have stopped using mica in their products, due to several reports of children being exploited in mica mines.
With so many tips, it might be tempting to throw out whatever you have and completely overhaul your skin and hair care routine, but this can just lead to more waste. Instead, do the transition gradually, starting with a product that you use the most or which you apply on sensitive areas of your body. Then slowly keep changing one product at a time, and you’ll soon find yourself following a clean and green beauty routine, and you’ll also notice that your skin and hair are much healthier than before.
Did you find our 10 Easy Ways to go Green for Healthier Skin and Hair interesting, please let us know in the comments section.