• Marsha


Lately, sustainable and environmentally-friendly skincare and beauty products have gained more interests, from customers, organizations, as well as academics. Globally, the cosmetics industry yields about 120 million units of packaging and though attempts have been made to produce recyclable packaging, unfortunately, many still end up in landfills. Ingredients in beauty products often render the packaging non-recyclable, so if you're throwing away a half-full bottle of serum, chances are it won't get recycled even though the packaging is fully recyclable. Same goes with a single-use sheet mask. Serum coating a biodegradable sheet mask may also prevent its biodegradation. Adding to this, some cosmetic ingredients are the cause of environmental pollution, so here's a few swaps to make your skincare routine more sustainable:

  • UV filters (with the main culprits being octinoxate and oxybenzone) and plastic microbeads in scrub products are known pollutants in the marine ecosystem. So, avoid products that contain plastic microbeads as scrubbers. It is, however, important to note that the use of sunscreens is non-negotiable, as we need to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of UV radiation. Thus, opt for sunscreens that are free of octinoxate and oxybenzone. I would personally opt for a physical sunscreen containing coated nanoparticles (to prevent oxidative stress) of physical filters (e.g. nano Titanium Dioxide) as their effects on marine life are negligible and they don't give a white cast on the skin.

Reef-safe sunscreens: Stream2Sea (body sunscreen) and SunBum Face Lotion SPF 50

  • Opt for products that are packaged in recyclable material and once fully used, make sure to rinse the packaging to get rid of residual skincare product and dispose properly.

  • If you're a fan of single-use sheet masks, I recommend going for the biodegradable or fully compostable materials, like hydrogel or biocellulose. If you use sheet mask everyday, I recommend reducing the frequency, and perhaps you could try a reusable sheet mask by Nurse Jamie. I just apply my favourite serum and put the mask on for about 15 minutes.

For single use sheet masks, I personally like Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen biocellulose sheet mask, The Body Shop Drops of Youth sheet mask, and Whamisa hydrogel sheet mask.

  • Moisturizers: Synthetic hydrocarbons, derived from petroleum sources, such as petrolatum and mineral oils are excellent emollients/occlusives, especially for dry skin. They are well-tolerated by all skin types and have a long-lasting shelf life. However, they are considered problematic from the sustainability point of view. Instead, you could opt for bio-based squalane and natural butters and waxes as more sustainable alternatives.

Some of my favourite emollients swaps: L'Occitane Shea Butter (great alternative for petrolatum) and Biossance Squalane and Probiotic Gel Moisturizer (Squalane is a great alternative to mineral oil).

  • Silicones (dimethicone and cyclomethicone) are great for giving the skin a smoother appearance, as well as for blocking moisture loss. However, silicones have outstanding stability, thus, once released in the environment they will remain for many years, potentially causing harm to the aquatic life and human health. Given their unique properties, finding sustainable alternatives is actually quite a difficult task. Researchers have proposed a blend of coconut alkane and coco-caprylate as a great natural alternative to cyclomethicone.

Examples of moisturizers that contain this blend for the skin-smoothing effect include Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream and Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer.

I hope you find this content useful and with just a few simple swaps, we collectively can make a great big difference to the environment. Don't forget to check out my latest blog posts here

Till next time,

The Skin Press

sustainability and performance

The content contained on this website is provided for informational/educational purposes only. Therefore, nothing on this site should be construed as providing medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always consult with your healthcare provider/licensed physician for any medical concerns that you may have.