Last year, I decided to cut down on the amount of waste my personal hygiene routines create–that’s everything from showering, feminine hygiene, and skincare. With a good attitude and a willingness to adjust to a little less convenience (though not in every case!), I have dramatically reduced the amount of garbage I create. In fact, save for a few teeny blades I toss each month from shaving, showering has become a waste-free activity. A low waste face-care/skincare routine, on the other hand, has been harder to peg down! This one took a lot of persistence, and there are a few facial cleanser and moisturiser bars in my cupboard that are destined for the garbage, because they just didn’t work on my skin.I definitely haven’t had this much “bad luck” with conventional products. Unfortunately, natural products don’t have the best reputation when it comes to performance, and my experience aligned with this bad rep. Keeping this in mind helped me to manage my expectations; I knew I might run into a few rough patches and would likely have to spend a few extra dollars on products that wouldn’t work as advertised before finding workable alternatives.
And, guess what? I’ve finally got something that works! Below are the details of my daily face care routine.
Cleanser: Fresh Farmacy from Lush
Fresh Farmacy lives in that sweet spot of actually cleaning your skin without being abrasive that vegan facial cleansing bars tend to miss. And it’s not a soap! I thought this point would would be a no-brainer: that bars labelled as facial cleansers would not be soaps. But unfortunately, there are plenty of small businesses that seem to label their soaps quite archaically, calling some shampoos and others face washes or shaving creams, when really the only thing they make is just soap.The problem with soap is not just that it can be really drying for your skin, but it can leave a film of residue that could clog the comparatively bigger pores on your face. So you might end up with breakouts in days and dry patches in months–ones you wouldn’t otherwise have. So resist the temptation to wash your face with a bar of soap and call it a day.Back to Fresh Farmacy. It’s cruelty free and vegan and great for sensitive skin. Its base of calamine powder makes it feel like you’re washing your face with a very gentle pink clay (it does not lather at all). Lush offers other package-free, bar format face cleansers, as well, and if you want to try something altogether different, look on Well.ca. They carry brands such as Sibu and Ethique, both of which sell solid, minimal packaging face cleansers, and I can vouch for a great shopping experience with Well.
Exfoliator: Silicone Face Brush
It’s been months since I last used actual face scrub, and that’s coming from someone who used a pea-sized amount nearly daily! I’ve found that a silicone face brush gets the job done just as well. You can change the pressure to change the level of abrasion slightly, and since there’s no scrub to threaten to wear the skin on my fingertips raw, I’m a lot more patient with massaging my face to increase blood flow.
I use my face brush four or five times a week. Really, the goal is to use it every morning, but sometimes I’m in a bit of a rush to just get ready and I skip over those extra two to three minutes. It feels pleasant to use, and I have noticed better textured skin in the last few months. I’ve found it helps to fade red marks from past breakouts along with minimising scars.
I usually just use this to massage over my cleanser. So I’ll rub my cleansing bar over my wet face, and then exfoliate with the silicone brush over top for about two minutes. Voila! Fresh skin.
Serum: Argan Oil + Carrot Seed Drops & Vitamin E
I’ve given up moisturizer for serum. I make this at home and use larger, plastic packages to mix this once every few weeks. Over time, I save on plastic and paper packaging, so while this part of my routine is still wasteful, it’s a better solution than purchasing a prepared product.
The base of my serum is argan oil. Argan oil is considered a dry oil. Dry oils were all the rage about ten years ago, and the idea is that some natural oils are less comedogenic, or less likely to clog your pores. Argan is one of them. It’s also rich in vitamin E, but I add extra anyway. Our skin easily absorbs vitamins E, A and C, and it’s super easy to find the first one in stable solutions over the counter or online.
The idea to add carrot seed oil came to me when I really wanted a retinol product. Retinol is a synthetic form of Vitamin A commonly added to anti-aging and nighttime skincare products. From what I remember of my reading, over an extended period, think two years, the use of concentrated retinol products is associated with thicker (younger!) skin and fewer wrinkles.
But the more I searched, the more I realized that whatever retinol product I chose, with it I would need to compromise my goal of moving towards a more environmentally aligned routine. So I looked to see what else I might find.
Carrot seed oil immediately stood out. It’s basically the next best thing: It’s an oil that contains a number of antioxidants that may be beneficial for aging skin (but not vitamin A!). Beyond the miracle-touting claims made on health websites, what caught my eye about this oil was the amazing reviews left by users.
I wear the serum, made of argan and carrot seed essential oil and vitamin E, each morning and night, and my skin has been looking brighter and healthier.
I purchased all three items required to create this serum from a local wholesaler. They come in larger bottles, which translates to plastic savings as compared to purchasing the same yield of product in smaller packages.
Sunscreen: All Good SPF 50 Sunscreen Butter
As my daily sunscreen, I am using the All Good Sunscreen Butter, which comes in a teeny tiny aluminum or tinplate twist-top tin. It’s a reef-safe, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen, and All Good is Leaping Bunny certified (they do not test on animals). I couldn’t find information on whether the product is vegan-friendly, but I’ve sent them an email and will update this when I know.
The product has a very thick consistency and probably wasn’t made to be used as daily sunblock (their website says it offers sun protection “in the most extreme environments,” which I’m assuming doesn’t look like sitting in front of a computer for most of the day).
Gram by gram, All Good’s tin sunscreen may appear a bit pricey. At $12.99 + tax (Whole Foods) for just 28 grams, it’s about 25% costlier than Derma-e’s SPF 30 facial sunscreen (113 grams for 19.54 on iHerb). But you need a lot less of it! I only use a few swipes of my index finger against the zinc-loaded “butter” to get for full-face coverage. It glides on surprisingly well on its own, but wearing a serum under this really helps, too.
While for the first hour or so of wear, it does leave a chalky residue, this low waste sunscreen has been a surprisingly great solution for me. I haven’t broken out as I expected I might, and I have peace of mind knowing my faccia is protected from all those UVA/UVB rays.
That’s all for now! I hope this post inspired you to rethink and innovate parts of your daily face care routine. If you have any questions or plan on trying anything I’ve mentioned in the post, feel free to drop a comment below.
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