4 ways to start a green beauty routine

woman looking in mirror
CC BY 2.0 Kylie Aquino

Want to go green but not sure where to start? Here's our advice.

Have you made a New Year's resolution to clean up your beauty routine? Perhaps you want to use more natural products and eliminate unnecessary packaging. Doing it all at once may seem daunting, not to mention expensive, so here are some suggestions for starting with small yet effective changes.

1. Get a new hair routine.

Do you lather up daily? There's no need! Breaking the hair-washing habit has countless benefits. You'll save a ton of time spent washing and styling, reduce the amount of product you use and the number of plastic bottles it probably comes in, which also means saving money.

Start by washing every other day. Don't repeat the shampooing step to save product and to conserve a little bit of oil in your hair. Learn to style hair that's not freshly washed (it's a lot easier, actually). Swap conventional brands for truly green, clean brands; these will cost more, but if you use less, it balances out.

It is possible to train your hair to go longer without washing. I've gone from washing every second day to waiting a full week, and my hair has never felt so healthy, shiny, and strong. Admittedly, it was a 41-day no-washing experiment that was the real turning point, showing me that slightly-greasy hair is far more manageable than I'd previously thought. Read: 9 steps to washing your hair less

You can try washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar -- a practice that I've found highly successful.

2. Go package-free.

Bar soapritual/Public Domain

Plastic pollution is one the greatest environmental problems we currently face, which means that we all have a responsibility to reduce the amount of plastic we use. Beauty products are a major source of individual plastic pollution, but fortunately many plastic-free options exist.

My favorite is bar soap, bought 'naked' at my local health store. Bar soap works just as effectively as liquid soap and body wash and generates no additional waste. It's also far cheaper.

Some bulk stores offer shampoo and liquid soaps in bulk form, allowing you to refill reusable containers, so that's another good option. Learn more: On creating a Zero Waste beauty routine

If you're a menstruating woman, buy a menstrual cup right now if you don't own one already. It will change your life and save you money within a couple months.

3. Use what you have.

makeup & skin products© K Martinko -- My current collection of favorite makeup and skin care products

It would be fun to 'green' one's routine by going on a shopping blitz and purchasing a whole new set of fabulous eco-friendly products, but that's not practical. It would be costly and terribly wasteful. From an environmental perspective, the best thing to do is use up what you have for now (as long as it's not too toxic). Do not replace products until you have none left. And then, maybe you'll decide that you don't even need them anymore.

Learn basic substitutions, such as coconut or almond oils for facial cleansing, removing makeup, and moisturizing; baking soda for exfoliating, softening, and washing air; apple cider vinegar for almost everything imaginable.

4. Shower less.

I'm not advocating for smelly armpits and B.O. by saying this. I'm simply encouraging shorter, more efficient bathing methods for the sake of water conservation. Keep it quick. Use fewer products. Consider washing just your 'pits 'n bits', which will make your skin microflora much happier than if you subject it to a full scrubbing. Check out Melissa's list of 7 ways to skip a shower. (See, I'm not the only one!)

If you have kids, skip the nightly bath; make it two or three times a week instead, as per the American Academy of Pediatrics' suggestion.

Related Content on Treehugger.com