When I first started working to minimize my waste bathroom products like necessary changes but also daunting. These are the products most of us use every day or at least multiple times a week. Even those with the most minimal beauty routines are still likely using hand soap (maybe in a plastic container and maybe with unhealthy ingredients), toothpaste (in a non-recyclable container and with fluoride), and your basic shampoos and conditioners (also in non-recyclable containers and likely with many toxic or irritating chemicals). Switching to most minimal waste products in the bathroom is a really sweet place to begin moving toward a minimal waste lifestyle. What most people recommend is just adding a zero (or minimal) waste product into your routine when you run out of your conventional product. This helps divert the cost of switching by spreading it out over the course of several weeks or months. I've found that my priority needs to be to integrate products that are safe for my body (and my baby's body) and that involve minimal or no packaging or other waste. When I can't have it both ways (which is rare), I opt for the safer products and do a bunch of research until I can find a product that meets both my needs).
Here are some of my recommendations for products and some general tips for shifting to a more minimal waste bathroom and beauty routine.
1. Swap out disposables for reusables, or at least disposables that are compostable or biodegradable.
We use electric toothbrushes that we got for really cheap on black friday almost four years ago. There's no sense in me throwing these out for the sake of going more "green." Throwing out perfectly functional items is wasteful. Don't get swept up in the assumptions you or others make about what it looks like to go green.
I did, however, start purchasing bamboo toothbrushes to have on hand for when guests forget theirs. These come in recyclable packaging, are made of bamboo which is quick growing and sustainably sourced, and they can be composted when done.
I also switched from traditional razors to a safety razor (if you're really trying to go zero waste, maybe consider not shaving. There's definitely some social conditioning that goes into our view of body hair). Safety razors are usually made of stainless steel and twist open at the top, allowing you to insert a fresh razor blade. These blades are two-sided and very sharp. Shaving with a safety razor takes some getting used to, but the blades can be recycled and the handles should last a lifetime if you care for them well. I bought a pack of 100 Astra blades for about $10. I swap out the blades about once a week or so depending on how much I've used it. The razor handle itself cost about $35 for me and I picked it up at my local coop. There are a ton of different handles out there and they can get pretty expensive. My recommendation would be to get one that isn't too cheap, is made of stainless steel, and ideally has a longer handle (mine has a short handle and it can be a little tricky). For more information on safety razors, check out this post.
2. Switch to package free products!
There are a lot of ways in which you can minimize your waste just by choosing products that have no packaging. LUSH offers a lot of "naked" products which is their way of saying package free. I used their shampoo bars for about 9 months and really like them. They are basically little round bar soaps that are specifically designed for different types of hair. You can purchase little metal containers for them when they're not in use. I moved away from these because many of them contain SLS which is a common irritant. It didn't seem to both me too much, but I liked the idea of using even more natural products. LUSH also offers deodorant bars that are package free.
I have also opted to use only bar soap or bulk purchased castile soap in my house for hand washing and dishes. I buy the bar soap from my coop or Whole Foods package free. The castile soap I buy at the coop, bringing my own jar and filling it up in their bulk section.
I have also used almond oil as a face moisturizer and really liked it. It takes some getting used to, but is really gentle on your skin and especially nice in the dry winter months. I can buy it waste free at my coop and just bring in my own jar.
3. Swap things out as you go.
There's no need to toss out all your recently purchased lotions, body wash, etc just because you're trying to go greener. Use up what you have and as you run out switch to zero waste (or minimal waste) products.
4. Check out companies that reuse their containers or use biodegradable containers if you can't find or don't like the zero waste options out there.
My hairstylist recommended Davine's products. Davine's is a certified B-corp, plants trees for all their carbon immissions, uses biodegradable containers and is totally non-toxic. I decided to give them a try and am only halfway through a bottle after five months. If you don't love the shampoo bars or other zero waste options, Davine's products are an awesome option.
I've also been using Plaine Products lotion for the last six months or so. Plaine Products uses stainless steel containers for all their shampoos, conditioners, lotions and more. When you empty your bottle you just send it back to them for a refill. Products come with one pump that you can reuse with all your refills. I am loving their lotion. I personally haven't loved lotion bars or any of the homemade lotions I've tried, so this has been perfect. They offer a subscription service too so you never need to run out.
5. Think outside the box. Who says you need three different moisturizers, a body wash, a face wash, and traditional toothpaste? I've found one of the best ways to move toward less packaging waste with bathroom products is by simplifying my routine. Here's what I use:
I really don't feel like I'm missing anything or sacrificing by using less. I actually find the minimal routine really freeing. So maybe consider trying to slim down your routine. What are a few things you could cut out that you might not really miss as much as you think?
6. Make your own! I've made my own lotion, lip balm, tooth paste and tooth powder.
My favorite DIY has been an activated charcoal tooth powder. Get the recipe here. When you aren't finding a zero waste option that works for you, considering trying to make your own.
For some quick reviews on products that I love and ones that weren't my fav check out this post!