You’ve probably read how the beauty industry is one of the worst for our environment, the water used by this industry for production and manufacturing, the plastic waste that it produces, and the chemicals it leaches into our waterways. Think about the products you have in your bathroom. How many of those items are made from mostly water, housed in mostly plastic, and contain mostly chemicals you can’t even pronounce?
Thankfully, brands are innovating more than ever before, and most of the items and products we all use in our bathroom can now be swapped out for more sustainable, ethical, and healthier options.
Always Read the Label.
Let’s begin with the ingredients found in our bathroom. There are some questionable additives in many of our bathroom products. While most of these ingredients are in such small amounts that they are “deemed safe” by the FDA, it hasn’t always been the case.
Take talcum powder, for example. Johnson & Johnson’s ever popular bathroom staple in its original formulation was on the market for over 130 years. Talcum powder, made from talc, is a naturally occurring mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, hydrogen, and traces of asbestos - yikes! It was approved by the FDA for personal use, regardless of the fact that there had been some findings over the decades linking talc to ovarian cancer.
The first lawsuit was filed by Deane Berg against Johnson & Johnson around 2010 after she had developed ovarian cancer in 2006 from a result of using J&J’s talcum powder. Regardless of this lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson continued to sell their talcum powder in its original formulation right up until 2020. Up until today, over 1000 women have filed lawsuits against J&J for ovarian cancer caused by their talcum powder.
You may in fact have a J&J baby powder bottle in your bathroom right now made pre-2020. You’ll notice just two ingredients: talc and fragrance. If you’ve purchased baby powder post-2020, J&J’s baby powder has been reformulated with safer ingredients - cornstarch, tricalcium phosphate (made from naturally-derived calcium salt), aloe leaf juice, and vitamin E in the form of tocopherol. If you’ve got an old formulation of talcum powder in your bathroom, it might be best to dump the contents in the trash and recycle the bottle.
While the new formulation is a positive change that will no doubt benefit the health of consumers who continue to support Johnson & Johnson, we at Fait avec Coeur do not support carelessness and negligence from companies who should have their consumers and the environment in their best interest. There are so many brands around now that have been ethical and sustainable from the beginning, and we actively support those brands.
The point we’re making with this is, the FDA hasn't always gotten it right when it comes to protecting our health; and corporations certainly haven’t put consumer’s health above their profits. So as consumers, we really need to be aware of what we are exposing ourselves and our families to. Always reading labels, researching ingredients we’re not sure of, and sticking to clean-ingredient products as much as possible will ensure we keep our family safe.
Disposable Products Are The Norm.
Now let’s talk about products. Most, if not all of the most commonly used products in the bathroom are disposable at some point in their life. As the medical industry suggests, it is more hygienic to use single-use disposable products when you can’t sterilize them. Think of dental floss and toothbrush heads - we definitely need to dispose of those after use at a certain point. But what we’re dealing with in our own bathrooms is not open-heart surgery. We’re just brushing our teeth, doing our hair and makeup, and bathing. There’s no reason why we need a completely sterile environment - and science suggests that we need some germs to keep our immune systems healthy and functioning.
Here is a list of common bathroom items that were originally made to be disposable, but are now available in reusable or far more sustainable options:
These were always manufactured with plastic stems, and have become a real problem in our oceans and waterways. You can now get cotton tips with biodegradable or compostable paper or bamboo stems, but these still use resources to manufacture a product that will eventually be disposed of. So why not opt for a reusable swab instead. Try Last Swab.
Why we love Last Swab: This product can be reused forever, eliminating waste by 100%.
Another wasteful item that we regularly use in the bathroom are cotton rounds, or cotton pads. These are often just used for one small *wipe* and then tossed in the trash. Get some reusable pads that you can throw in the washing machine instead. Etsy has a bunch of handmade ones in adorable patterns, or try Hello Body.
Why we love Hello Body: Their pads are made from sustainable bamboo.
Microplastics are destroying our oceans on a microscopic level. Scientists estimate there’ll be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Loofahs, plastic scrubbing cloths, and other synthetic-fibered items end up in our waterways, so the best way to combat this is to swap plastic loofahs and sponges for natural fibres. Try Public Goods Sea Sponge.
Why we love Public Goods: They have a complete range of clean and simple products for the home and body. Check them out.
One billion - or 50 million pounds - of toothbrushes are thrown away each year just in the United States alone. That is incredibly wasteful. We need toothbrushes to maintain our dental health, and they need to be replaced after a certain point, so opt for a more sustainable option. Try Etee Bamboo Toothbrush with Replacement Head, or the latest bamboo electric toothbrush from Pearlbar.
Why we love Etee: They have many more sustainable and ethical products for the home.
Traditional dental floss is made from a plastic and coated in chemicals that are actually not great for our health. Swap it out for a more sustainable and healthy option. Try Brush with Bamboo Natural Silk Dental Floss.
Why we love Brush with Bamboo: They have innovated the dental space with bamboo products.
Mouthwash & Toothpaste.
Mouthwash and toothpaste tablets are an innovative product that you can easily take with you anywhere. They’re also waterless and zero-waste! Try Bite’s Mouthwash & Toothpaste Tablets.
Why we love Bite: Their tablets have disrupted the industry.
Pads & Tampons.
Once you get the hang of using a menstrual cup, there’ll be no turning back. The convenience and cost efficiency of never needing to replace your tampons every month is such a relief, not to mention your reduction in sanitary waste goes up 100%. It's a win-win. Try Flex’s Menstrual Cup.
Why we love Flex: Anyone who's used a cup before knows the struggles of removing a full cup without the mess. Flex have innovated a patented design that makes removal a breeze.
The razor wastage is almost just as bad as toothbrushes, with over 2 billion thrown away each year in the US. The metal blades themselves rust away over time, but the plastic handles remain. Opt for a plastic-free razor option. Our pick is UpCircle’s Plastic Free Razor. The handle is non-disposable chrome, and all you need to replace is the blades.
Why we love UpCircle: They are innovating the beauty industry with upcycle, rather than recycle. Their mission is to “leave the world better than we found it by transforming ingredients that would otherwise be discarded into natural, organic beauty products – better for you, better for the world”.
Using traditional plastic or latex bandages might seem like the best option for cuts and scrapes, but these do not break down in the environment, and conventional brands normally tested on animals. Try biodegradable bandages from Patch instead. These have won consumer awards for their efficacy, and will break down after 10 weeks after being tossed in the trash.
Why we love Patch: The medical industry is rife with wasteful products and practices, and Patch have disrupted an entire industry.
Skincare That Cares.
Most skincare products packaging in your bathroom are more than likely made from virgin plastic - AKA plastic that is brand new and unused - and formulated with a large number of chemicals that do harm to our environment. We found alternatives to common items that are low-waste, zero waste, toxic-free, and sustainable.
Most face cleansers will come in virgin plastic bottles with pumps or different plastic lids. Poorly made cleansers will use sulphates and cheap ingredients that can be detrimental to the environment. Read labels, and always avoid anything with microbeads, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), triclosan, silicones, and synthetic fragrance. We love Thoreau Lab’s Face Bar. It comes in compostable paper, is waterless, and is perfect for sensitive skin.
Why we love Thoreau Lab’s bars: they are a clean and gentle formulation, with a very light fragrance, and can be used for the face and body.
Many serums contain varying synthetic ingredients that are disguised as being “beneficial” to our skin, but are actually detrimental to the environment. Anything from the list mentioned in the previous paragraph may be found in serums. Try one of Earth Harbor’s face serums instead. They are housed in glass bottles, and their clean and safe ingredients are sustainably sourced.
Our favorite: Helios Anti-Pollution Youth Ampoule for a powerful treatment that protects the skin from pollutants, with strong skin renewal and anti-aging benefits.
One of the most common ingredients you’ll find in many face oils is mineral oil (AKA petrolatum, liquid paraffin or paraffin oil). It acts as a kind of barrier to help “seal in” moisture, but these are all synthetically-made from crude oil. While the mineral oils we use in food and skincare are regulated by the FDA, and deemed as being safe, the crude oil in its most natural state is carcinogenic and is known to cause birth defects - yikes! FDA approved or not, there are so many other more superior and safe ingredients out there, so why risk using mineral oil at all? Try Honua Skincare’s Olena Beauty Oil instead. Honua Skincare uses organic and wild harvested botanical ingredients from local Hawaiian suppliers.
Why we love Olena: She can be added to your cleanser to help remove your makeup!
The same nasty ingredients found in cleansers are also prevalent in poorly formulated moisturizers. All of those unnecessary ingredients are doing your skin and the environment harm. Try DEW MTY’s Bloom Jelly Serum Bar instead. The bar comes in composable paper, is waterless, and is zero-waste. It contains ingredients like jojoba oil and hibiscus flower to nourish, soothe, and treat signs of aging.
Why we love Bloom: You can use Bloom Jelly in lieu of your lotions, serums and oils, too.
Shampoo & Conditioner.
Try Viori Shampoo & Conditioner bars. They’re formulated with rice water, coconut oil, shea butter and other unique ingredients.
Why we love Viori: Their ingredients are high quality, and they even have these adorable bamboo soap holders.
Over one billion body wash bottles get discarded every year and end up in landfill. Not only that, but most body wash available on the market contains ingredients that are cheap and synthetic, like sulphates, hormone disruptors, and other nasties. That’s why we love Plaine Products body wash, and all of their products. They are housed in aluminium bottles, no plastic, and are formulated with no nasty chemicals.
Why we love Plain Products: well the main reason is because you can return your empty bottles to be reused by using the free return label. Innovation!
Lotions often contain mineral oils, and as stated earlier in this post, mineral oils can be pretty nasty. Not only that, but the energy that goes into manufacturing the lotion bottles that end up in landfill most of the time make these such an unsustainable option. Try Kate McLeod’s Body Stones instead. They are waterless bars that nourish and hydrate using only the cleanest and most sustainable ingredients.
Why we love Body Stones: It’s an innovative spin on body lotion, and they have different bars to choose from, including travel sized bars, muslin bags and bamboo canisters for storage.
Makeup That Doesn't Hurt the Planet.
It’s darn near impossible to find zero-waste makeup on the market. In fact, there is an enormous gap in the market. So when we find brands that are doing something right - and believe me, there aren’t many - we always try and bring them to your attention.
River Organics have a zero-waste concealer formulated with organic ingredients.
Why we love River Organics: They actually have a complete line of zero-waste beauty. Check them out.
Blush & Eyeshadows.
Speaking of zero-waste beauty, Āthr Beauty was one of the first on the market to design a zero-waste eyeshadow palette. They also have blush and highlighters. Try Āthr Beauty’s Crystal Charged Cheek Palette, Joshua Tree Palette and Supernova Crushed Pure Diamond Highlighter.
Why we love Āthr Beauty: They source only the finest and most ethical and sustainable ingredients, and they use real life crystals and diamonds in their formulations - to add a cosmic glow into your regime - mmm sparkles!
Elate Beauty has a complete range of low waste and zero-waste beauty, including three kinds of eyeliners. All of the eyeliners are made from sustainable materials - the pencils are made from Californian cedarwood and labels are printed in water-based paint, while the liquid eyeliner is housed in recyclable plastic and compostable bamboo.
Why we love Elate Beauty. They’ve innovated a whole range of items that are 75% waste free. They even have their “Perfectly Imperfect Program” where they sell damaged items at a discount in order to use all of their products, rather than tossing them in the trash.
Izzy Zero-Waste Mascara is a program where you purchase a mascara, when it’s empty you send your used mascara back in the prepaid parcel. Then you receive a sterilized and refilled mascara bottle every three months in another prepaid return parcel. This is how a circular, zero-waste economy works.
Why we love Izzy’s mascara: What’s not to love? They have thought of everything, from the no unnecessary, wasteful outer-packaging, to the sterile medical-grade stainless steel mascara tubes, to the on-site recycling facility that grinds up the wands, to the recycled water used for production, all within a 400-mile radius to keep carbon emissions low, and even to their subscription model for convenience.
Axiology Balmies are made from plastic-free zero-waste crayons. You can use them on lips, cheeks and eyes, and they are formulated with only a handful of sustainably sourced natural ingredients.
Why we love Axiology: They also use post-consumer plastic for their lipstick tubes, their other products are made from recyclable materials by a women’s cooperative in Bali.
There are so many more brands out there doing some truly innovative stuff in this space. We do our best to bring you our top picks on a regular basis, and we’d love you to share with us any brands you know that are doing our planet a solid. DM us on Facebook or Instagram if you know of any amazing beauty brands and we’ll feature them in one of our blog articles.
All of the brands Fait avec Coeur promote are vegan and cruelty-free, sustainably and ethically sourced and made, and are manufactured using low-waste or plastic-free packaging.
Written by Emma Masotti. Emma is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn’t cost the earth.