6 Ways to Green Your Beauty Routine
Read The Symbols
"Finding products that are packaged and bottled in recycled materials is an easy first step," says Danny Seo, an eco-friendly lifestyle expert and the founder of the Wholearth Beauty & Bath line. "The symbol is usually right on the box, because companies want the bragging rights."
"Use fewer products or products with few chemicals and additives," says Summer Rayne Oakes, a model and the author of Style, Naturally (Chronicle Books), a shopping guide for sustainable fashion and beauty. Oakes also suggests multitasking products, such as a body wash that also works as a shampoo and conditioner.
Make It Count
If you're going to buy products from eco-friendly companies, think about the everyday items that you use the most: body wash, shampoo, and body lotion. (You can find a list of green companies at here.) The face cream or anti-aging serum that you can't live without? Don't worry if it isn't organic. "It's just fine to keep that one in your routine," says Seo.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics offers resources on the ingredients in beauty products, plus a link to Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group's cosmetics-safety database. "Be aware, but also be sensible and practical. If you cannot green up your entire beauty routine, start with products that you reapply and use regularly," says Oakes.
Wash with a bar of soap (which tends to have less packaging) or a certified organic shampoo—or, at the very least, a formula that is free of sodium laurel sulfate. "Products without it are just as effective," Seo explains. "Many of the ingredients in traditional body washes and shampoos—synthetic fragrance, dyes, and sodium laurel sulfate—end up being ingested by aquatic wildlife and take hundreds of years to biodegrade. And when the product is used up, the bottle goes into the trash."
Look for plastic marked 1 or 2 on the bottom; you can recycle these with other household goods. Remove the caps since they're a different type of plastic and can contaminate the load. Origins, Aveda, and M.A.C. will accept packaging for recycling, including harder-to-recycle plastics. See their websites for details