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Rachel Lewis
Style > Beauty

How to Start Shopping Sustainable Beauty, Without Feeling Like You’re Losing Your Favorite Products

Every day you go on Twitter or read the news, scientists are urging us about the precarious state of earth’s ecosystems. The planet is dying, basically, and maybe that sends you into a little bit of a panic. If you’re anything like me and desperate for ways to do better, it leads to researching minimalism, sustainability, and zero-waste. You can easily find simple ways to leave a smaller footprint by practicing general living sustainability on your campus, but there are also ways to go green in your beauty routine.

The basics of sustainable beauty

Usually, sustainable beauty follows four tenements of sustainability: ethical sourcing, energy reduction, biodegradability, and vegan values. Sometimes, it can be hard for brands to follow all four rules, so they usually use a combination of them. Of course, like a lot of natural alternatives, sustainable beauty products get a bad rep as lacking pigment, not lasting long enough, or not being very strong against heat and wind exposure. But nowadays, sustainable beauty products are as affordable and lasting as their not-so-green counterparts! That means you can easily switch your skincare, makeup, shower faves and move over to sustainable options, without feeling like you’re compromising the results some of your most-loved products have been giving you.

Essentially, sustainability is trying your hardest to not be wasteful: no single use products, no harmful chemicals, as little plastic as you can, and recycling! Sustainable beauty is just a subset of that. trying your hardest to not be wasteful. You can change up to have a more sustainable routine by having products with recyclable packaging or little chemical ingredients.

Yes, yes, we know! Green beauty sounds a little complicated so far, and following those four pillars can seem challenging. We’re here to tell you that it’s really not. If your budget or your likes won’t allow you to commit to buying sustainable brands, there are still ways you can contribute.

Products to switch


For a sustainable moisturizer, you can head over to Lush’s wide moisturizer selection. Our recommendation? Full of Grace moisturizer, which retails for $16.95. This moisturizer has more than 600 reviews with a total of 4.5 stars. With key ingredients like cupucacu butters, chamomile and mushroom extract, it promises to work for all skin types. What makes it a good sustainable pick is that it’s package-free, unlike most moisturizers that come in plastic, glass, or single-use packaging. Plus, it’s hydrating, calming and chock full of antioxidants.


After you’ve applied moisturizer, time to put on concealer. RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-Up concealer is a cult fave (Emma Watson uses it). Coming in at $36, it can fall into the higher tier side of makeup, especially for college students, but if you do decide to invest, it’ll definitely be worth it. Apart from the fact that this concealer comes in 16 shades—out of which nine are designed from medium to darker skin tones—it has an average of 4.5 stars. The sustainability of this product comes from their ingredients like jojoba oil, rosemary extract, and cocoa actively work to hydrate your skin while still providing coverage.


As for foundation, plenty of research suggests that the Vapour Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation is the best. This product retails for $54, but it’s so worth it. This foundation is designed for normal, combination and sensitive skin types. Their key ingredients (frankincense, tulsi and lotus) soothe, calm and protect skin. Plus, it’s full of fatty acids and antioxidants that even and enhance skin tone and texture. This foundation comes in 19 shades.


Now, for lipstick and mascara, we recommend a Pinch of Colour’s waterless lip colours. They have ten velvety matte shades to choose from, like Stella and Sophia. These go from pink to orange to purple undertones which means that you’ll be able to find the perfect shade for you. For $24, they promise to deliver bold pigment and long-lasting wear. Why is this product sustainable? For starters, it’s water free, meaning no part of their creation process uses water. Plus,  it’s vegan, cruelty-free and paraben-free. Added bonus? It has jojoba oil which will help moisturize your lips.


Our mascara recommendation? Root’s 100% Lash Natural & Organic Mascara. Their mascara goes for $14. A key ingredient like vitamin E promises to moisturize your lashes while still making them look runway ready. Their formula is smudge-proof and water resistant (perfect for when you’re stressing over finals). Plus, it smells like vanilla! Their sustainability comes from the ingredients. With no artificial colors, preservatives or artificial you can safely use it in your eyes.

The DIY route

Aside from shopping sustainable brands, there are some other ways that you can have a sustainable beauty routine. For starters, you can ditch the single-use cotton rounds and opt for reusable ones. There are tons of trendy tutorials online on how to DIY them or you can always buy them. Makeup remover is another easy way to minimize waste in your skin care routine. There are also many tutorials online, but we recommend going the litter-free way. By making your own makeup remover, you have the added bonus of knowing exactly what goes into it. You’ll probably end up saving money in the long haul, too! Go online and you’ll find plenty of ways to craft your own supplies.

There are also ways you can craft your own makeup. Mascara and eyeliner are easier to make than you think. Can you make lipstick? For sure!

We hope that with this guide, shopping sustainable beauty seems less daunting. Remember, there are simple ways into make sure your carbon footprint is smaller, so why not give it a go?

Antoinette Luna is a Performance Studies and Comparative Literature major at the UPR. Her passions include writing, reading, and anything crafty. She loves to sew, write, and make things from scratch. DIY is the name of her game. Around campus, she is known as a bubbly young woman who goes by just Luna. Her future goals include traveling, traveling, and more traveling. Outspoken transfeminist, and wannabe activist, she's out to set fires.