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3 Green & Sustainable Beauty Swaps From An Eco-Justice Advocate

Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director. Previously she worked at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Image by BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy
August 30, 2021

The current climate crisis is something that has certainly been on many of our minds lately. With each new report and development, the urgency becomes more clear. (If you, like me, are struggling with serious eco-anxiety lately, I encourage you to read this recent piece published following the foreboding IPCC report). And to make a meaningful difference, it's going to take commitment from all of us—from governments and industry titans to individuals. 

In this recent episode of Clean Beauty School, I discuss what can be done with eco-justice advocate and founder of Brown Girl Green Kristy Drutman. In this episode, we talk about disposability culture, how to talk to your friends and family about living more sustainably, climate change's effect on our bodies, and eco-friendly beauty swaps. I encourage you to listen to the whole episode—I promise you'll leave inspired and ready for action, not hopeless for the future of our planet—but in the meantime, here are some of her favorite beauty recommendations: 

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1.

Swap trendy finds for what you actually enjoy using. 

The most commonsense beauty swap you can make? Skipping trends, and using the products you actually like. The beauty industry produces 120 billion cosmetic products every year—and only 20% of those products are actually used up. The rest of that 80%? Tossed before completion. 

And we can avoid much of that by just being mindful of what we already have, be honest with ourselves about what we will fully use, and choose the items that actually serve our skin goals—rather than just blindly following the new trendy routine or social media fad. 

"Really make sure that you take an inventory of the things that you own and like—then only buy what you feel you truly need, want, and that you're going to use for a long time," she says. "This is not only better for the planet—but constantly chasing after trends is exhausting. It's better for you too!"

And on a skin care note: It's likely better for your skin health. Using too many products, switching things up too often, and generally overdoing it can sensitize the skin

Swap one-time-use products for larger items.

Listen, we all have to be better about one-time-use products—from takeout cutlery to beauty finds. And in this case, we're looking at you, sheet masks and face wipes.  

"Instead of buying those sheet masks that are super disposable, buy a clay mask that comes in a jar—or make your own face mask," she says. Need inspo on the latter? We've got you covered and then some. Here are our favorite DIY face masks with aloe, turmeric, honey, or avocado. As for makeup wipes, we strongly encourage you to stop using those, too—opt for all-natural makeup-removing options, which are much better for the skin anyway. She goes on to say that even simple things—like buying larger sizes of commonly used items—can mean reduced consumption overall. 

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Swap fossil fuels for renewable energy. 

This one takes a bit more research, but we consider it an important part of the discussion for the long haul: Find brands that use renewable energy as part of their production process—or have a plan in place to do so. 

"A lot of these factories where many of these beauty and cosmetic products are being produced rely on burning dirty energy and fossil fuels," she says. "And so in the long term, we need people who are really demanding that beauty companies run their factories and operations off of renewable energy to be able to reduce their carbon emissions." 

And we are firm believers in celebrating progress in the right direction—and encouraging companies to take those steps. So reach out to the brands you shop from, and see what emission goals they have on the horizon. "If you care about ethical beauty and about buying from companies that do care about being sustainable, you need to ask them about goals to reduce their emissions in the next few decades," she says. "And if they don't have a plan, why are you purchasing from them?"

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If you're looking for more engaging beauty conversations, listen to our new beauty podcast, Clean Beauty School. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcastsor Spotify.

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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director at mindbodygreen. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She has worked at many top publications and brands including Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends and updates in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as travel, financial wellness, and parenting. She has reported on the intricacies of product formulations, the diversification of the beauty industry, and and in-depth look on how to treat acne from the inside, out (after a decade-long struggle with the skin condition herself). She lives in Brooklyn, New York.