By making the most eco-friendly shopping choices and avoiding single-use products, we hope to minimise our impact on the planet and do something about global pollution and climate change.
However, there are certain products that are harder to find alternatives for and harder still to give up.
Using makeup is one of them.
You see, although the most eco-friendly way to remove our makeup is simply not to use it in the first place, we all want to look and feel at our best, and a touch of makeup can really help.
So, what’s a girl to do?
What is the greenest way we can still feel gorgeous without harming the planet?
Let me give you a few planet-friendly alternatives.
What’s the Problem with Makeup Removal?
Most people use either disposable makeup wipes or a combination of cotton wool and a cosmetic product to remove their makeup.
These are single-use products so are inherently wasteful and contribute to a wide range of environmental problems.
Those makeup removal wipes are almost always non-biodegradable and non-recyclable.
Usually made from a combination of polyester, polypropylene, cotton, wood pulp and rayon, you’ll use them to remove your makeup for just 5 minutes before you throw them in the rubbish or flush them down the toilet.
If you flush them, they could block your toilet, clog up the sewerage system and either end up in the oceans or get removed manually and thrown into landfill anyway.
That’s not to mention the fact they come packaged in a huge amount of plastic which will also end up in landfill or polluting the oceans and will never decompose.
Don’t think you’re in the clear if you prefer to use cotton wool pads to remove your makeup.
Non-organic cotton production is one of the biggest users of harmful pesticides and insecticides which leach into the environment, harming eco-systems and killing wildlife.
Again, they’re only single-use products so they’re very wasteful and definitely not eco-friendly.
Eco-Friendly Ways to Remove Makeup
Here are a few eco-friendly ways you can remove your makeup, clean and nourish your skin and feel gorgeous!
1. Use coconut oil
If you’re working towards zero-waste and you want to reduce your impact upon the planet (yet still want to look great), you should start using a natural alternative to those chemical eye makeup removers.
Instead, enjoy the naturally soothing, moisturising and antibacterial benefits of using pure coconut oil to remove that stubborn mascara and eyeliner.
As it’s an oil, it can even get rid of waterproof mascara, and leaves your lashes and eyelids feeling utterly pampered.
However, if you have skin prone to clogging, use pure olive oil or another oil of your choice to get your skin squeaky clean.
2. Make your own eye makeup remover
Another eco-friendly eye makeup removal option is to use natural ingredients to create your own make up remover.
Be aware that the skin around your eyes is delicate and highly sensitive, so we need to be careful what we’re putting into our homemade eye makeup removers and avoid using essential oils.
Here’s a simple recipe to get you started.
Zero-Waste Makeup Remover Recipe
This gorgeous make up remover doesn’t just get rid of your make up, but it also soothes your tired eyes and leaves you feeling refreshed. Keep in the fridge for best results.
- 3 tablespoons water (tap water will do)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil (or other gentle oil)
- 3 tablespoons witch hazel (buy on Amazon here)
- Find a small, clean container with a lid.
- Add the ingredients and close with the lid.
- Shake well.
- Use applied to a reusable facial pad and enjoy!
3. Use reusable eye makeup remover cloths
Whilst those disposable pads of cotton wool might not seem too bad for the environment, they too contribute to ocean pollution, use the earth’s resources needlessly and can also block up your sewerage system.
Here are some of the best eco-friendly, reusable alternatives.
Bamboo makeup remover pads
Bamboo is a wonderfully soft and eco-friendly material which helps gently cleanse your skin without costing the planet.
Better for the planet than cotton pads, these eco-friendly makeup remover pads will help you deal with cosmetics, sunscreens and chemicals and take great care of your skin without irritations.
Most bamboo makeup remover pads are double-sided for maximum efficiency, and when you’re done you can throw them straight into the washing machine.
They’re also the most compact option so work great for when you’re travelling.
Makeup remover cloth
These are much like a flannel or washcloth, but they’re usually much more stain-resistant and easy to keep clean.
If you can’t find any for sale near you, simply use reusable baby wipes- they’re fun and they’re really the same thing.
Made from a variety of materials such as bamboo, cotton and microfibre, they’ll help you take care of your skin without all that unnecessary waste.
These are also great for the whole family, very versatile and wash easily.
Bear in mind that not all materials are as eco-friendly as the other- although microfibre cloths are reusable, they’re made from a form of plastic which can shed when used and increase microplastic pollution in the oceans.
Organic bamboo or cotton is always best.
Exfoliating muslin cloths
If you’ve ditched those cosmetics which contain microbeads but you miss having that healthy glow, invest in some muslin cloths.
They’ll help you get rid of every last trace of city grime and dirt, boost your circulation, gently exfoliate dead skin cells and leave your complexion looking fresher and younger.
These are great for blemish-prone faces and pores that get clogged easily and can easily be thrown into the washing machine time and time again.
For best results, look for high quality, organic Egyptian cotton cloths.
What about natural sea sponges?
I often get asked about sea sponges so I’d like to say a few words about them before we move on.
Yes, they are indeed 100% natural and don’t need to be overly processed before they come to a store near you which makes them appear to be a good eco-friendly alternative to single-use cosmetic products.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that they are taken directly from the ocean floor and are actually live animals (although without a nervous system to feel pain), so they’re certainly not a great option for vegans and do have their own impact on the planet.
4. Make your own make up removal pads
You don’t have to go out and buy make up removal pads- you can repurpose what you already have at home to make your own, and you don’t even need to be creatively minded or good with a sewing machine.
Find some pieces of preloved flannels, towels, cotton sheets or muslin clothes, cut to size, secure the sides with a hem and you have your own reusable eye makeup remover pads for next to nothing.
Watch the video below for more tips.
4. Opt for a biodegradable make up removal wipe
Although it’s not the most eco-friendly way to remove your makeup, it’s worth mentioning that several companies make biodegradable make up removal wipes.
These are often made of 100% organic cotton and feature many other natural plant-based ingredients.
There you have it!
Several fantastic eco-friendly ways to remove your make up that will help you reduce waste and ease your environmental footprint whilst giving your skin the pampering it deserves.
Which is your preferred method?
Let us know in the comments below!
Charlotte Witts is a writer and entrepreneur who wants to show you how easy it is to live a more conscious, zero-waste lifestyle. A confirmed yoga-addict, trail runner and ocean-lover, she currently lives in the Azores where she enjoys the simple pleasures in life.