Does environmental impact or sustainability affect your purchasing decisions?

Sort of, but my job entails I review products, so in many ways, it is the most wasteful aspect of my life (which ends up making me more diligent in other areas of my life). If it is a product I can wait a few days on, I will do so and make sure to order more than one thing at a time, but it doesn’t always happen. What I try to do more is to sift through products I’ve reviewed and products I bought to review more regularly so that I can pass them on (donate, give to friends/family, etc.) faster rather than letting them sit so long that they can only be recycled/trashed.

— Christine
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Yup. I mentioned this in a recent survey here but I’ll avoid products/companies with unnecessary excess packaging as much as possible. Cosmetics/skincare simply isn’t worth adding waste to a landfill for some fleeting pleasure.

The only thing I have to relax on is sunscreen because it’s very difficult to find a reef safe sunscreen that is not like acid on my skin (to the point of avoiding going out because of the reaction my skin/eyes have). Given that I know multiple people who’ve had cancer and passed from it, I simply can’t not wear sunscreen. Still hoping to find a reef safe one that works for me.

I like to buy tightly knit clothing or certified UPF clothing to reduce the amount of sunscreen I have to buy. Prana is an ethical clothing brand with some bluesign products. If you’re in the water a lot, prana also sells upf swim clothing: paddle suits, long sleeve swim tops, swim tights etc.

YES, more than ever.

I’m kinda just tired of it all. From an over saturated market, increase in plastic glitter, non recyclable packaging and no real answers on ingredient sourcing- I’m pretty done. Plus, the drama and lack of overall community.. It’s not worth it to me anymore. I’m using what I have and no more. I’m not going to look back and think about stock piles of make up or limited edition items.

I’ve appreciated you as a resource for many years but this camel’s back is broke. In every sense, lol. Thank you! Good luck! Take care!

Oh my goodness, Kate, I feel the exact same way you do! I am so over all of it. I thought it was just me and I don’t want to spread negativity on a makeup blog but I couldn’t have said it better myself. The market is completely over saturated – with no end in sight apparently – and I guess I’m just in a different place in my life where I don’t need all of this stuff anymore. Plus the fact that we are just a wasteful society to begin with. I’m trying to be part of the solution not part of the problem. I very rarely comment on here although I do read a lot of the reviews. I hope no one takes offense to this but I am done with wasting money on stuff I don’t need too. Like you said, I’m using up what I have, which will last me a long time. Then going forward, I will just buy what I need. It’s funny how you change over the years…I would have never thought this would have happened to me, say, 5 years ago. But here I am, pretty much denouncing makeup! I guess it just doesn’t give me joy anymore like it used to. I guess I’d rather have the money in the bank for my retirement instead. Anyway, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks like this…

^^^^ THIS! I remember when someone (I think it was Pat McGrath) released something that came packaged with lots of sequins – lots and lots of sequins. A lot of people were shrieking with delight over the innovative and clever packaging and all I could think was “really, how many people are actually like my late mother and do hand beading?” Guerlain’s lipsticks that cost a fortune but the cases with the mirrors were still “one use” and you couldn’t get refills…. on and on and on. More and more, I think a lot of consumers (not all, I’m sure, perhaps not even most) are going to hold companies accountable for doing a better job on packaging and recycle-ability.

The very simple thing I do to be more green with makeup purchases is to shop in person. You cut down on packaging (and beauty products are always packed with bubble wrap and paper so that they dont get damaged during shipping). Also, by seeing the products in person, I end up shopping less, and that means I’m contributing less to landfill accumulation.

The amount of useless packaging some online retailers use is ridiculous. Sometimes the waste from that alone is twice the plastic the actual products have.
With Sephora I don’t mind that much they stuff the package with paper (let’s say it’s easily recyclable and at least is not non-recyclable peanuts), but I wish they stopped putting items in extra plastic bags. At least they stopped sending randomly those fragrance sample packs with tiny amounts on paper, under a tiny plastic foil.
And some retailers simply add samples packets to orders without asking. They are usually lined with aluminium, so they go straight to landfill.

Not really. I don’t buy enough for it to make a difference, at least not makeup or skincare wise. I do reuse the boxes and packing materials that I get with shipments. With skin allergies and sensitivities, I really can’t use sustainability/environmental considerations to further reduce choices for me out there. Sorry if that offends anyone but that’s how it is for me.

Yes, very much so. I try to think through the life of an item before I buy it: what happens to it when I’m done with it? Can it be recycled or reused? And of course — and most important to me on a very personal level — it is cruelty-free? I also don’t buy things like wipes that are a single use and tossed away.

Nowadays some brand switched their wiped to compostable materials… but while the gesture is nice, it’s useless when consumers are not educated to recycle. Some materials really need to be composted (you can’t assume they’ll degrade in the environment of a landfill). Even if the plastics of the wipe packaging can be recycled it’s usually a `bag` (requires special facilities) and sometimes they have that harder plastic `dispenser` which means you have to actually separate the soft plastic bag and that hard plastic element.

I really try to avoid brands with excess packaging. I purchased the Viseart Liaison palette and I didn’t realize that they had an unnecessary piece of plastic with the shade names printed on it. I went on a rant about of for a good 20 minutes bc the shade names would have fit on the palette perfectly, so now I have the extra sheet of plastic that I probably can’t recycle. Things like that drive me nuts.

I don’t consider it as much as I should. I don’t generally buy products tested on animals and I don’t use wipes. Lately I have been applying skincare with my fingers instead of cotton pads. But I am more conscious about the impact of my purchases in other areas, such as food, than makeup and personal care.

This is an area where I do believe that I need to be much more mindful of. Especially when it comes to plastic of any sort. I do consciously avoid purchasing products with microbeads. And try to mainly purchase palettes housed in biodegradable packaging like heavily compressed, sturdy cardboard instead of plastic. This doesn’t work out so well for individual cheek products, eyeshadows or lip products, though.

While I’m not always perfect, I do try my best to reduce my environmental impact and be more sustainable. I buy lots of produce and bring always my own bags. I buy from the bulk bins. I choose cans and jar packaging. I try to avoid plastic packaging when I can, and when I don’t I try to choose plastics that are easily recyclable. I gather all the plastic foils (my curbside recycling doesn’t handle them) and I recycle them in stores with a plastic bags drop-off. If I buy animal based products I choose organic, grass-fed, humanely raised.

Make-up / skincare was the thing I always knew I needed to make a compromise with. I tried switching to reduced waste / packaging free / zero waste solutions in some aspects and it didn’t worked for me.
But I try not to be wasteful. I only own mostly a product of each category and I always finish products. I look at packaging that can be easily recyclable (plastic bottles/jars that are not a mix of materials) and I wash well the packaging before I put them in the recycling bin; I am aware that not even this means they will end up recycled, but at least I know I tried.

I am like you in many aspects.

Isn’t it amazing how back in the 70s you could recycle bottles and cans everywhere…and not just certain states? As kids, we used to collect bottles and get change for them on the islands for candy. I have a nephew who saved up for a house in 2 years going through junk and trash stripping materials that could be recycled.

If you look at older makeup, most of them were refillable and gorgeous containers. I’d like to see more of this. They closed tight and were fab. I had a powder one in a silver case that I sadly lost in a move. I used to press powders into it and reuse. It would be cool if everyone sold the same size pans and let us buy cool containers to store them in. I sadly ruined a Chanel palette trying to depot them…I had a friend doing a real cool art piece with them. Right now, I display the pretty ones.

I am appalled at plastic water bottles the most. I am a straw person and it takes me a year to go through a box of them as I soak and wash for reuse. I’m bothered their isn’t glass recycling like there used to be as well. I am honestly more freaked out about cancer causing agents in plastics. I don’t own any plastic kitchen containers and haven’t for years…except for logo bpa free cups from games I’ve collected…cheaper refills and use by the pool. They handle the dishwasher great for reuse.

And paper towels. Ugh. I grew up with tea towels. Now we have easy microfiber towels.

I don’t have a recycle bin either…my neighbors let me use theirs after mine cracked. It takes 4 months to fill up a 13 gallon bag and it just takes space. I never fill up our garbage bin either. I donate to my neighbor’s compost bin…only until we get our yard in shape.

I don’t feel guilty as the only excess I have that is whittled down is my eye palettes. And you can bet my cute glass bottles are repurposed.

I’m also sad about…get this…luggage. Airlines damage it all the time. The one place in town that fixed it went out of biz when the owner died. We have to replace the hubbies luggage at least once a year due to his high travel job. So far, this year, it’s been twice. I try to avoid Chinese made products as much as possible because of this. Cheap is not better in these cases. He reinforced my pricey Samsonite and it is still rocking. Better than when it was new.

I agree w/you regarding luggage. We finally bit the bullet and bought Briggs & Riley brand. Expensive as can be, but totally guaranteed against damage, even from mishandling by airlines. (We had another somewhat high-end brand that specifically excluded damage caused by airline handling, which was pretty useless to us.) B&R repairs for free any damages caused and pays for shipping both ways too.

Yes, I try not to buy so much when I’m feeling stressed as a “treat” and really think hard about each purchase. In this recent Sephora sale, I picked up my standard mascara and bought a Make Up For Ever empty palette (to shop my stash and play around with fun color stories). I try to delay makeup purchases until I’m out or there’s a real cause for celebration (for me, my birthday and Christmas – and I set a budget for my big ticket splurges).

Ditto on what everyone else is saying on excess packaging. My “pass” has been Pat McGrath, whose idea of luxury is unfortunately tons and tons of plastic. On social media, I comment on her Instagram about the unnecessary use of sequins. I’m sure the comments get deleted, but I know other conscious consumers must be reaching out to the company with similar remarks. Nothing changes if no one says anything though, so I am just hoping my voice counts for something in the long run. Destroying the environment flagrantly is just not a good look to me. I love her makeup and I wear it in my daily life, but it’s 2019 and we need to rethink what’s glamorous.

I am also trying to switch over my staples to companies that have an empties recycling program and use easily recycled packaging (metal, glass, silicone). I’ve been collecting empties to recycle with a Terracycle Zero Waste Box Recycling. I also made a donation of unloved and barely used items to the charity you recommended.

For me, thinking about the true cost of makeup’s life cycle makes me think even more carefully about my purchases.

For skin care, I’ve been using reusable toner wipes I made. I use coral safe sunscreen.

I have been more cognizant at first…just because of clutter. Some things, like sunscreen, you can’t really buy in bulk and I do a lot on others areas of my life. My family is from an island and you HAD to live like that. I don’t buy processed foods, recycle jars if I had them, etc…so I don’t have a lot a waste as it is.

I like good packaging for makeup. I know it bothers people but I’ve had to throw out more stuff packaged in cardboard and flimsy materials earlier and at a more frequent rate because of it. I know people don’t like packing materials but it is more wasteful to receive something broken and having to replace it.

I also buy supersize bottles of lotions, shampoo/conditioners, and mouthwash. I save smaller bottles that I refill for travel. It takes me a year almost to through a jumbo set of hair stuff. I can’t remember the last time buying anything travel size.

I no longer buy Yankee Candles…just soy wax melts because it really bothered me they didn’t recycle. I’ve done the best I could. The lady at my farmers market used to take them for candle making until someone threatened to “report” her since she was obviously using something that was obviously a YC jar. Although not makeup, I always had one in my dress up room by my vanity.

I do save perfume bottles. I actually filled one with the PMG sequins which came in a bag and it looks very cool. My neighbor’s daughter collects old makeup containers for her art. She had one piece, didn’t recognize the quad, that was opened glued on a canvas and it looked like makeup was melting out. She does all kinds of things, so I’m grateful for that. And I donate stuff all the time. Friends and family love it.

Yes. I find myself buying less makeup every year. I don’t return products unless the product itself is faulty or subpar, or I was sent the wrong item. I don’t want makeup thrown away just because I picked out a pink I didn’t end up liking on me. (If a product doesn’t work for me, I offer it to friends or donate it to a shelter that doesn’t mind sanitizing gently-used items.)

I don’t knowingly buy anything with microbeads. I try to wait for permanent products and make bigger orders, so I don’t have as many shipping boxes and extra packing materials (I recycle and reuse boxes, envelopes, and packing materials, too). I try to buy pro pans whenever possible for singles, so I don’t have a bunch of non-recyclable plastic cases left over from depotting. One of the things I like most about MAC is their Back to MAC program. I wish more companies did something like that, even if they didn’t give free product as a reward. I’d still be cool with sending stuff back for recycling. I order from smaller indie companies a lot. They tend to use less superfluous packaging, and are more likely to reuse shipping boxes and envelopes they receive, and they don’t include a million glossy paper advertisements.

There are other brands that allow packaging recycling, but mostly skincare not make-up, like Kiehl’s, Origins, Lush.

My local MAC actually accepts all make-up products for recycling, but only specific ones count towards a free lipstick / eyeshadow. That works because they recycle the packaging of the samples in stores, so adding (for example) my old eyeshadows and blush tins to the mix isn’t hard.
I’m with you, I’d do it even without a free product. In the end make-up and skincare containers need to be properly cleaned before recycling and sometimes components need to be separated; regular users/consumers might not always have the proper skills and tools. It relates to many other issues in the beauty industry lately, but brands need to start being a little more responsible and help the consumer.

I haven’t always been the best at thinking about the environment and what I personally can do to impact the damage being done to our environment. But, over the past few years I have been trying to be more aware. As far as individual packing goes, I always keep the boxes that the package comes in because I use them as part of my organizing system. Unfortunately, I have to do most of my shopping on-line so I always have larger boxes that the orders ship in. I use those boxes to store things in my craft room. It is the bubble wrap and peanuts that are the problem. It doesn’t work all the time but I do use the peanuts to stuff the bottom of large flower pots so that I don’t need to add as much soil. I have stopped buying things in plastic unless I can’t find any alternative. I don’t buy plastic bottles, water bottles or anything with excessive packaging. There is always room for improvement, though.

I have a question/concern based on fellow posters comments. What is this about microbeads and glitter? I do chemical exfoliation because I’m scared I’d overdo it. I was a child of the 80 s and the harsh apricot scrub.

Yes, it does. It’s a motivating factor to be more thoughtful about my purchases, both in quantity and quality. Although Sephora’s generous return policy was alluring when I first got into makeup, I try to avoid returns as much as possible now. Outside of something like mascara, I test everything in store to get a decent feel for it before buying.

Also, I try to avoid microplastics in cosmetics as much as possible. I really appreciate brands like Bite for avoiding them. Also, I applaud brands like Mac for their recycling programs.

To be completely honest, no.

I recycle plastics and packaging where possible, but I buy so much stuff online from overseas that my carbon miles are probably horrendous. Microbeads are illegal here but I haven’t used them for years anyway (one of my more bougie friends went OFF when she could no longer get her favourite Kate Somerville exfoliator because it was suddenly contraband) and I’ve never really used disposable wipes habitually or lots of cotton or anything like that. I tend to pass stuff on rather than just binning it but none of that changes the fact it will probably all end up in landfill eventually.

I went through a very stressful period several months ago and came pretty close to a complete emotional breakdown – I’m getting better now but one of the things that kept me going was regular makeup and beauty product purchases as a form of self indulgence. I refuse to feel guilty about it. Cheaper than therapy and chucking in my job, anyway…
It got to the point where I felt so bad about just about everything else and I really struggled with concepts like meat alternatives, dairy is cruelty against animals, being overweight leads to increased cancer risks, plastics are killing marine mammals, straws and supermarket bags have been banned here, glitter kills baby fish and even washing our clothes effs up the water supply, etc that I had to take a step back and decide that no, I was not personally ruining the planet by buying another lipstick.

There is a lot more awareness in the beauty industry these days, which overall is a good thing but I also think there’s a certain amount of moral grandstanding that goes on within the sustainability movement – that doesn’t negate the positives in any way but I also don’t always have the mental energy to lie awake at night and worry about whether the shea butter in my foot cream is harvested by child slaves in South Sudan… I mean, I sure hope that it’s not and I’m not advocating willful ignorance as a tenable solution but makeup is a creative outlet for me and for the sake of my mental health right now, there are some rabbit holes I just don’t want to go down.

Thank you. My sister has most of the same stresses you listed, and she takes them all seriously, but she DOES feel personally responsible, and I think it’s actually affecting her health. It’s good to care and do what you can, but if you can’t do it without either becoming a basket case or THAT person who has to kill every single conversation they’re a part of with some crowbarred-in reference to the horrors that the average person visits upon the planet with their day-to-day existence, then it’s a problem. Glad you posted.

🙂 I hope your sister gets to a better place soon.

I’m not a vegetarian but there are still days where I feel like a heartless monster for wanting a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake, ya know?

I do think that big corporations and producers should be seen to be making more meaningful efforts and changes to their supply chain and the ethics therein, rather than all the little dudes at the end of the supply chain going “OMG, I’m contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest right now!!!!” when they buy a packet of chocolate biscuits or something…

I also think there’s a subset of SJW’s that exist on drama and perpetual outrage but I’m definitely not one of them, cos man that s*** is tiring. I need to go listen to some Hozier and chill, man 😉

I’ve definitely gotten more mindful of my consumption habits in general, including makeup. I skip a lot of smaller inpulse buys that I used to do (and inevitably end up with drawers full of nice makeup that I didn’t *love*), and opt for the more expensive items I actually want and use these days. I buy less and consider more, to be brief, but then I never was much of a collector 🙂

No, but my own personal tastes take care of a lot of what other people consider issues: I don’t use products with microbeads because I’ve never been convinced they’ll do anything for me. I don’t use glitters because ugh. The only wipe product I own anymore is a pack of Burt’s Bees towelettes that I keep in the car for spill emergencies, and that happens so rarely that I’ve had the same pack in there for over a year (I’ve tried facial cleansing cloths on and off; I’ve never been pleased with the result and won’t be trying again). I have a strong preference for indie makeup, and many (if not all) the ones I really like stand on the principle of less-harmful ingredients, cruelty-free, more environmentally friendly, and even vegan where they can manage it (though I don’t buy from them for any of these reasons). The only sunscreens I can safely use are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and the two types I buy (which are specifically marketed for “babies and infants”) skip the other possible issues with specific preservatives and nano-particles by their design. Again, I don’t make my purchases based on these ideas, this is just how it has worked out.

I strongly prefer cardboard packaging, but I’m genuinely not sure if that’s supposed to be a plus or minus for the environment; at the very least, it minimizes the plastic I handle and dispose of. I prefer plants that can take care of themselves in the warm, dry months (xeric), and have no grass or fussy, moisture-loving ornamentals in my yard; again, it’s not an environmental choice, it’s just laziness and common sense.

I will admit that I purchase (“consume”) more than any one person needs to. Most of my purchases happen online, so I definitely contribute to whatever ills stem from shipping. I do buy from Ulta when I can; I drive there, but it’s just as often on a motorbike, and it’s never my destination (e.g. it’s usually on my way home from work or planned in to some other necessary trip/combination of errands and tasks). Even my motorbikes aren’t for the purpose of using less fossil fuels, decreasing pollution, or decreasing traffic congestion (the cause of a kind of emotional “pollution” — driving angry); all these real advantages aside, I just like them.

I don’t buy diamonds, nor am I interested in anyone giving me any (I’ve never understood the appeal; they’re cold — who cares what they’re “worth?”). I’d like to make better food choices for my own sake (re: antibiotics-free, free-range, insecticide-free, etc.); but like everyone else, I’m limited by local options in one way or another. I’ll say that I *DO* try to buy oils and fats (for body care or cooking) from sources that appear to care that the farmers and (ideally) small-batch processors of the products get reasonable compensation for their efforts. That might be my one conscious nod to all the noise about how bad humans are for the environment and each other.

There’s probably a lot I could do to “help more” or “hurt less” when it comes to the environment. Will I? Probably not. I don’t believe I get a free pass on anything just because many of my choices accidentally align with ideas that are eco- and human- friendly, but I also don’t think I deserve to be reviled for those areas where I don’t take the extra step. That’s just my opinion. Anyone who thinks I’m a monster for my lack of emotional turmoil on the subject can feel free to hate me — I’m okay with that. And I’m not talking about people here (in Temptalia) — I don’t think the people who hang out here are the type to start flaming others over issues like these, I meant out there in the real world, in general, I wouldn’t appear to anyone to be remotely saintly (or even somewhat enlightened), and I expect people to take offense — that’s fine and completely understandable. I do what makes sense to me and avoid deliberately harming anyone or anything when a reasonable alternative presents itself and/or makes more sense.

Not sure why this subject apparently gave me so much energy to type, but … there you are.

“I do what makes sense to me and avoid deliberately harming anyone or anything when a reasonable alternative presents itself and/or makes more sense.”


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