From shampoo to soap, shower gel, period products and more, these sustainable essentials can help you go green for good
The world of sustainable beauty has transformed over the last few years. No longer is being eco-friendlier seen as a niche need, but more of a pressing one with a growing number of brands ranging from the mainstream to the more specialist consciously doing their bit to provide a greater choice of products that deliver both in terms of eco-credentials and performance.
From sustainable skincare to plastic-free packaging and sustainable beauty brands, here’s what you need to know in order to make your routine greener.
What is a sustainable beauty product?
In a nutshell, a sustainable beauty product is one that is kinder to the environment. There are a range of ways that brands are looking to achieve this. Some use sustainable packaging that is recyclable, plastic-free, biodegradable or made from recycled materials. Others use renewable ingredients in their formulations, a mixture of both and even adopt a zero-waste approach, meaning that all elements of production and consumption have been developed to eliminate, and reuse, waste while conserving resources.
How can you make your beauty routine more sustainable?
Thanks to huge strides in development and formulation, it’s never been easier to make your beauty routine more eco-friendly. From shampoos to shower gels, soaps and cleansing bars, there is something for every need and bank balance. Small changes can make a big difference. Try these 20 swaps to reduce your carbon and plastic footprint.
Check out these other great sustainable beauty options here.
Best sustainable shampoo
• Size: 60g
If you’re looking for an eco-friendlier swap for your plastic bottle of shampoo, try a shampoo bar. As well as being generally longer lasting, it’s also more compact to save you shelf and suitcase space. This sustainable zero plastic waste option from Garnier is great for a range of different hair types. Its packaging is recyclable, it has a 97% biodegradable formula and with sustainably sourced coconut oil and aloe vera, it offers benefits for both hair and the environment. Intrigued? Read more about solid shampoos in our guide to the best shampoo bars for all hair types.
Best sustainable conditioner
• Size: 300ml
Whenever a bottle of this conditioner is returned, it’s washed and reused to cut down on waste and single-use packaging. It’s also vegan and full of gentle, natural and sustainably sourced ingredients such as aloe vera and coconut oil, to leave hair feeling soft and hydrated.
Best sustainable shower gel
• Size: 400ml
As well as being 100% recyclable, this zesty scented shower gel is vegan and contains a skin-softening combination of gentle cleansers and nourishing essential oils. Its blend of grapefruit and orange also works as a great pick-me-up on dreary mornings.
Best sustainable soap
• Size: 110g
This organic soap boasts a host of qualities that make it kinder to your skin and the planet. In addition to being plastic-free, it also contains RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil and is formulated without harsh detergents such as SLS, as well as alcohol – both of which can leave dry skin types feeling stripped.
Best sustainable makeup remover
• Pack of three
Reusable and recyclable, these dual-sided cleansing pads are a game-changer. Simply wet them and gently sweep across face and eyes to quickly remove all remnants of the day – no rubbing needed. You’ll wonder what you did without them.
Best sustainable eye makeup remover
• Size: 150ml
Shake to activate this bi-phase eye makeup remover, housed in a fully recyclable bottle and cap. Containing natural AHAs, it also has a subtle exfoliating effect to brighten the eye area, too.
Best sustainable cotton buds
• Pack of 200
Let bamboo take the place of plastic on the cotton bud front courtesy of these eco-friendlier alternatives from Bambaw. Biodegradable but sturdy, they offer both form and function to seamlessly slot into your routine.
Best sustainable dental floss
• Size: 50m
It’s extremely hard to tell the difference between this and traditional dental floss thanks to its durable material and delicious flavour. Made from a corn-based PLA and coated in vegetable wax and spearmint oil, it’s completely compostable and its glass dispenser can be refilled and reused too.
Best sustainable toothpaste
• Size: 75ml
This sustainable toothpaste’s carton and tube can both be recycled. Its high performance formula provides plenty of reasons to smile, too. Want to go completely tube-free? Try Pärla Original Naturally Whitening Toothpaste Tablets (£7). Containing 62 vegan and gluten-free tablets, it will have you rethinking your entire dental regime.
Best sustainable toothbrush
• Tapered slim-tip bristles
• Charcoal infused
Made from 100% sustainably sourced biodegradable bamboo with bristles that can be removed and composted, this brush has been developed to ensure that its afterlife isn’t an afterthought. Performance is at its core thanks to its non-slip handle, tapered bristles that are infused with charcoal and a beeswax coating to prevent it from going mouldy. If your teeth or gums are particularly delicate, opt for the Colgate Bamboo Charcoal Soft Toothbrush (£3) instead.
Best sustainable mouthwash
• Size: 500ml
With its elegantly designed bottle, this mouthwash proves that sustainable packaging needn’t be boring. Made from carbon-neutral sugarcane and recycled plastic, it offers bags of style as well as substance. Plus, its zero-alcohol formula containing mint extracts will leave your mouth gently refreshed.
Best sustainable face wipes
• Pack of 25
• No added colour or fragrance
Face wipes – their convenience have usually come at a cost for the planet. This is where sustainable versions like this come in. Biodegradable, plastic-free and enriched with soothing aloe vera, they aim to be as caring to the environment as they are to skin.
Best sustainable facial cleanser
• Size: 75g
Soap-free, plastic-free and pH balanced, this cleansing bar wrapped in recyclable paper packaging provides an innovative way to go bottle-free where your face wash is concerned. Containing a nourishing blend of ingredients such as almond oil and blueberry, it gently cleanses skin to leave it perfectly prepped for the rest of your skincare.
Best sustainable face cream
• Size: 50ml
As well as a recyclable jar made from 97.5% recycled plastic (excluding its cap) and a box made from 70% recycled paper, this hardworking day cream serves up impressive skin benefits, too. Containing antioxidant-rich fermented olive oil, as well as coconut and avocado oils, it helps to strengthen the skin’s barrier and soothe away dryness for a more glowing complexion.
Best sustainable pads
• 15 pack
These sustainable pads, made with 100% organic bamboo, are absorbent and breathable too. Wrapped in plant-based biodegradable packaging, they’re a better choice for the environment but what’s also great is that 5% of the brand’s profits go to charities supporting girls and women in need, too.
Best sustainable tampon and tampon applicator
• Contains: 1 DAME reusable tampon applicator, 3 DAME 100% organic regular tampons, 3 DAME 100% organic super tampons, 1 zippable carrying pouch
The reusable tampon applicator in this kit, designed to reduce the amount of plastic applicators that go to waste, has been created with safety and convenience in mind. As well as being made from medical-grade Mediprene, it also contains self-sanitising Sanipolymers so that maintenance is quick and easy. The brand’s tampons (£3.30) are 100% organic cotton and are naturally biodegradable when binned.
Best sustainable period product
• Made of soft medical grade silicone
For those looking for a more discreet alternative to pads, try a reusable menstrual cup – especially if your flow tends to be heavier. It can hold up to three times as much as a tampon and when full, can be rinsed out, wiped and reinserted.
Best sustainable period pants
• Available in S, M and L
For a complete period product overhaul, consider period pants. With in-built protection to keep you feeling dry and comfortable, simply pull up, cold wash, dry and wear again. Designed to absorb up to five regular tampons’ worth of fluid, to prevent leaks and wick away moisture, they’re particularly effective on lighter flow days.
Best sustainable hand wash
• Size: 354ml
From packaging to formula, Method products have been created with a cleaner home and planet in mind. As well as being recyclable, the brand use 100% recycled plastic in their bottles (excluding caps, triggers and pumps) to reduce their footprint. The company also offer refill pouches so that topping up their stylish bottles is refreshingly easy. We also love their scents, such as this re-energising plant-based blend of pink grapefruit, blood orange and cassis, and use of biodegradable ingredients too.
Best sustainable perfume
• Size: 50ml
• Fragrance family: oriental
A perfume bottle such as Mugler’s Angel is like a work of art and thanks to the brand’s refill service, you can keep enjoying it for years to come. After spraying your last spritz, visit your nearest Boots store and save up to 37% when you refill it at the Mugler Source Fragrance Fountain. As an extra perk, each empty bottle is polished and reconditioned to keep it looking its best for longer. Can’t get to a store? No problem. You can order an Eco Refill bottle online, and enjoy a 20% saving too.