13 Zero Waste Beauty Essentials

Cloth makeup rounds in a stack

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When zero waste lifestyle bloggers debate their go-to beauty products, these are the ones that keep coming up.

One of my guilty little habits is spending far too much time scrolling through the Instagram feeds of zero waste lifestyle bloggers... and then reading all the comments. Often I spend far more time on the comments than I do on the original posts; it's just so fascinating to read the back-and-forth conversation between followers.

Recently I got engrossed in various discussions about zero waste beauty essentials. People (mainly women, from what I could tell) revealed the products and tools they use to keep their faces, hair, and bodies clean and healthy. Here's what's hot in the zero waste/plastic-free beauty world these days:

1. Reusable Facial Pads

Made of organic cotton/flannel, hemp, or bamboo, these washable pads replace the disposable variety and are used to remove makeup. General advice is to get black if you can to avoid a stained appearance over time.

2. Toothpaste Tabs

These little tablets dissolve and foam in your mouth as you brush. They are lighter than toothpaste and good for travel. The ones by Lush are good, but come in a plastic container.

3. Natural Toothpaste

There's a lot of talk about new ways of brushing one's teeth. Georganics makes natural toothpastes in glass jars, including an activated charcoal one that many people seem to love. Tooth powders are another popular item, such as this Dirty Mouth tooth powder by Primal Life Organics.

4. DIY Toothpaste

A popular formula that's been around for a while but never seems to grow old, many zero wasters make their own toothpaste to avoid the non-recyclable tubes. Use 3 tbsp coconut oil, 1.5 tbsp baking soda, 25 drops peppermint essential oil.

5. Plastic-Free Dental Floss

There's concern about the Teflon-like substance coating conventional floss that exposes users to toxic PFCs, not to mention the waste issue. Compostable natural floss solves these issues. Dental Lace makes a refillable floss container with 33 yards of natural mulberry silk floss. You purchase the container up front, then refills after that. It also sells a vegan version (part bamboo, part polyester with candelilla wax).

6. Shampoo Bars

These brilliant hair-washing bars have gone from the fringe to mainstream in shockingly little time. You can now find them everywhere – at Lush (which kickstarted the whole trend), Unwrapped Life, Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve, and pretty much any artisanal bar soap maker.

7. Homemade Makeup Remover

One blogger recommends mixing witch hazel and grapeseed oil in a 1:1 ratio for removing all kinds of makeup, including waterproof mascara. Pure oil (jojoba, grapeseed, sweet almond, olive, coconut) also work, but can be messier.

8. Natural Deodorant

I'm seeing more natural deodorants in cardboard tubes, which is awesome. Natural Vegan Club and Hammond Herbs are two companies doing this. (I'm sure there are many more. Please share any names in the comments below.

9. Bars & Body Butter

Anything in solid form can be sold without packaging. So that's why I'm seeing a plethora of solid bars everywhere – olive oil face wash bars, shaving bars, shea butter post-shave and massage bars, facial moisturizer bars. There are also countless pictures of homemade body butters made with whipped coconut oil, cocoa butter, and essential oils, usually photographed mounded prettily in mason jars.

11. Refillable Containers

Ever since Plaine Products launched its refillable stainless steel containers of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, face wash and moisturizer, they've been everywhere. It's a brilliant green business model that makes zero waste more accessible for those people who might not want to go the solid bar route (yet!).

12. Bamboo

Bamboo is the new go-to material for toothbrushes, combs, hair brushes, body brushes, face cloths/pads, even biodegradable bandages.

13. Menstrual Cup

It used to be weird if you had one; now it's weird if you don't. Everyone is using reusable menstrual cups and, based on online discussions and face-to-face conversations with my friends, it's a switch most people wish they'd made years ago. The only challenge is figuring out how to insert it smoothly and consistently. (Read: 7 reasons to love a menstrual cup)