While I really should be greener year-round, I appreciate having one day of the year officially dedicated to reminding me to be gentler to the Earth — and my skin. After all, there are those environmental pollutants and chemicals that I may not be able to control (smog, car exhaust, radiation), and then there are those that I can, depending on what I choose to buy, ingest or apply to my skin.
So I’ve determined to make little changes in my skin care routine to minimize waste as well as the bad stuff, both on my skin and in the environment. Thankfully, going green is no longer a crunchy, granola affair. With the beauty industry as technologically advanced as it is, natural products are not only just as effective (and may in fact help with sensitivity or reactive skin) but its textures, scents and packaging can be quite elegant. So herewith, some tips on how to go green without sacrificing on substance or style.
Choose Organic Sheet Masks
My skin is not very sensitive to most ingredients, so I was really surprised when one of those fun printed sheet masks (this one had a Carnival-like design) gave me a mild rash on my neck. Actually, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The mask was super cheap, so who knows what sort of chemicals they used to print on it.
I’ve learned my lesson. When it comes to sheet masks, something you physically leave on your face for 20 to 40 minutes, I’m sticking to the quality stuff. Soyedodam Organic Sheet Mask is not only soaked in 6-year-old Korean ginseng, manuka honey and aloe, the sheet mask itself is made of skin-beneficial, plant-derived cellulose.
Take it one step further with Whamisa’s Organic Sea Kelp Facial Sheet Mask, which is pure, fermented seaweed shaped into a mask. The mask is not only certified Ecocert, which means that it is deemed natural and organic by the global certification body dedicated to sustainable development, it’s also certified natural by BDIH, a German-based nonprofit with strict guidelines on not just the ingredients of a product but also its ecological impact.
But you almost don’t need those official designations to know that the Sea Kelp sheet mask is all-natural — the mask not only looks and feels like sea kelp, it smells like positively oceanic. So you get all its nutrients and minerals — and multiplied because it’s been fermented for better penetration and less preservatives.
Say No to Microbeads
Plastic microbeads, found in many exfoliating scrubs, are environmental pollutants that are being phased out by next summer, thanks to a new federal law. But don’t wait till then. If your exfoliating scrub has any of these listed in the ingredients — polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polylactic acid, or nylon — toss it. (Not down the drain, though — read here for what to with your offending product). Then say hello to more effective, eco-friendly exfoliating options, like Dr. Oracle’s The Snow Queen Enzyme Powder Wash, which you mix with water for a gentle physical scrub, or Primary Raw’s DoYou 2-Step Milk Peeling Kit for fun exfoliation in an oversized, AHA-soaked swab.
Read the Ingredients List
You read the ingredients label on your food, so why not on your skin care products? While you don’t have to be a skin care Nazi and only use, say, Ecocert products (it can be exhausting), try to move towards products whose first five ingredients are ones you can pronounce. The Yuri Pibu line, Glow Recipe co-founder Sarah’s latest obsession, often have ingredient lists that start with something like this: artichoke extract, witch hazel, glycerin, olive oil, aloe. All pronounceable, all recognizable. All good for your skin.
Upcycle Bottles and Jars
I innately dislike waste, so one of my favorite ways to go green is to use products with pretty bottles and jars that I can upcycle. Most of Primary Raw’s glass containers are specifically made for that purpose, with minimal graphics so as not to detract from its usability once it’s empty. Cluster the toner bottles together with a variety of single buds for a unique table setting. Or repurpose the glass cream jars to hold odds and ends on your desk. You can even fill the Bio Lumpoule bottle with essential oils and bamboo sticks for a DIY diffuser.
After all, I’m doing my part to help beautify the Earth; what’s wrong with beautifying my vanity while I’m at it?