Create less waste with these 9 reusable and refillable beauty products

It’s becoming easier and easier to replace common products with reusable ones – coffee mugs, straws and food bags – but what about the things that I can not replace so easily? Like the bottles, jars and jugs that hold our lotion and soap?

Many cosmetic brands promote the recyclability or biodegradability of their packaging – sometimes with a fair amount of greenwashing involved – but recycling alone is not a viable solution to our global waste problem; since 1950, less than 10% of the plastic produced has actually been recycled, and according to waste management company TerrraCycle, the cosmetics industry itself produces around 120 billion units of disposable packaging annually.

In the midst of this plastic pollution crisis, companies are stepping in and making reusable and refillable cosmetics available to customers, so we can continue to take care of ourselves (and sometimes pamper ourselves) without the same environmental cost.

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Refillable deodorant

Those twisted plastic deodorant tubes are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, both household names and small brands offer reusable options.

Proverb’s aluminum-free deodorant refills are available in different colors, scents and dosages and are wrapped in paper. With its refillable aluminum capsules, Grove Collaborative avoids plastic and aims to be completely plastic-free by 2025. Haeckels also sells reusable aluminum cases and its products are made with just eight sustainable ingredients, all sourced from suppliers within 2km from the company. For a discreet case to keep in your bag all day, try Fussy, whose compostable refill pack is also made from sugar cane pulp. Refills for humanity are made from cardboard and plastic, which can be recycled, and customers can also pay a small monthly fee to help offset their impact through the company’s ocean plastic removal compensation program.

Conventional brands are also jumping on the trend; Dove, Secret and Old Spice now sell reusable cases and refills of deodorant.

Round in washable cotton

Instead of buying those mega-packs of cotton pads from the beauty aisle, try washable cotton rounds instead. Use them to apply liquid products such as micellar water, facial cleanser or toner, or replace products that come as saturated wipes, such as makeup remover, with the liquid form of the product to apply with these reusable pads.

LastRound – available at the Package Free Shop – come in a cute dispenser for your bathroom cabinet and are machine washable. The Versed Skincare cotton rounds also come with a mesh bag for washing; Place the used pads in the bag before putting in the washer and dryer with the other laundry. Beauty brands Paula’s Choice, Garnier, Sephora, and Cocokind also have their own reusable rounds.

Refillable skin care products

Big and small brands are inventing solutions for small single-use plastic bottles, jars and dyes that contain our favorite skincare products.

Based in Nashville, The Good Fill has their own filler in person, but you don’t need to be a Tennessean to use their products. Their sortable refill bags for skin care products are made with 93% less plastic than the bottle and are then sent back to the company for reuse. Youth to the People products can also be refilled, and subscribers can save $ 10 on each refill.

Tata Harper takes a different approach with her silicone-free Water-Lock moisturizer; Refill pods are supplied in recyclable packaging and close in the original container. To refill the Zyderma foaming facial cleansers, order the glass vials of the concentrated product to be diluted with water and use them normally. Yves Saint Laurent also offers refills for its Pure Shots Perfect Plumper Face Cream, as well as Rihanna’s Fenty Skin for a range of products, from face sunscreen to body scrub.

Silicone sheet masks

Placing on a cloth mask makes every night a luxury, but these disposable products inevitably end up in the trash. Pamper yourself without waste with a reusable fabric mask to keep your favorite skincare products closer to your face for better absorption. The Honest Beauty silicone mask is a must for skincare gurus; apply skin care products – or make your own mask blends, like these oatmeal-based masks – before applying the mask to your face. Rinse after each use and keep for the next night of pampering.

Reusable eye masks

Eye masks work much like face masks by trapping the product for better absorption. Diex Forever Silicone Eye Mask targets the area under the eyes to keep your favorite eye creams and serums close to the skin (it also comes in a super cute case). These masks sell out quickly, but Pacifica also has an affordable and effective reusable eye mask, available at Target.

Refillable makeup

Who knew makeup could be refillable? These brands are tackling the task of waste-free beauty. Plus, refills are often much cheaper than the original product, so choosing a sustainable option will save you money in the long run.

Guerlain, Fenty Beauty, and Dior all offer refill tubes for their lipsticks, as does Hourglass, which also sells refills for their popular eyeshadow palettes. The Glossier Monochromes eyeshadow trio also have refills in 10 different shades that can easily get in and out of the original container. Kjaer Weis is among the most refill-friendly brands, with 100% recyclable and compostable packaging for concealer, mascara, blush, brow gel, eye shadow, eye pencil, bronzer, highlighter and reusable lipstick, with full refill instructions.

Exchanges of silicon

For all your tampon needs, ditch the hundreds of packs from the drugstore and opt for these silicone alternatives. Try LastObject’s popular LastSwab or grab an affordable multipack from Walmart. Wash the exchange with soap and warm water after each use and store it in the included carrying case.

Refillable hair products

Along with plastic-free shampoo and conditioner, some companies offer another low-consumption alternative to traditional hair care. Love Beauty and Planet products are vegan, cruelty free and contain no dyes or parabens and offer 32-ounce refills, as does Ouai for their shampoo and conditioner for fine, medium and thick hair. Natura 300ml refills give you great value for money for their many shampoo and conditioner products as well.

Refillable soap

With all that COVID-aware handwashing, you may be going through a bottle of hand soap faster than you can replace it. Check out ESPA and purchase a reusable pump bottle to refill from their refill bags of hand and body soap, as well as shampoo, conditioner, hand cleanser, and lotion. The Follain Everything Soap is great for dogs, clothes, counters and hands alike; grab their small glass bottles to fill them from a larger refill jug. Bathing Culture’s pretty glass jars can also be refilled from their one-gallon body wash bottles or visit one of their refill points in California.

Linnea graduated from Skidmore College in 2019 with a BA in English and Environmental Studies and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, Linnea worked at Hunger Free America and did an internship with WHYY in Philadelphia, Saratoga Living Magazine and Sierra Club in Washington, DC.

Linnea enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors, reading, practicing her German and volunteering on farms and gardens and for environmental justice efforts in her community. Along with journalism, she is also an essayist and writer of creative nonfiction.

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