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4 Green Beauty Hacks That Won’t Break the Bank

Amelia McBain  |  November 30, 2018

While we’re working on our own packaging — including the care we put into our skin, hair, nails and the rest of our beauty routines — it becomes all too easy to forget about the potential damage we’re doing to the environment. 

Take those plastic pouches many beauty products come in. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has estimated that it would take nearly $500 million to clean them out of the ocean. Ingredients, too, take a toll. For example, many exfoliants have plastic microbeads, which do a ton of damage to our oceans, and some ingredients in beauty products are actually toxic, too—including cancer-causing parabens.

“Once people discover what’s in their mainstream beauty products, they often have a freak-out moment,” said Katey Denno, green living and beauty expert.  That freak-out is responsible for the huge — and growing —  green beauty market —which rang up sales of $11 billion in 2016.

Experts say green beauty has enough array in its product offerings to satisfy any beauty junkie. It’s better for us and better for the earth. “Keeping our overall toxic load as low as possible is a must,” says Denno. So why not throw out everything and go green? Cost. Even if you can find similar products at similar prices, tossing out your entire beauty regimen and starting fresh can cost a mint. Here’s how to make the switch without going broke:

Switch Your Top Products

“Pick your top three products,” suggests Paige Padgett, makeup artist and author of “The Green Beauty Rules.” That way, you don’t have to get rid of everything, but you’re still making an instant change. “You don’t wanna dump everything out and spend so much time looking for replacements,” said Padgett.

Among Padgett’s top recommendations: “I love Ecco Bella,” she says. “It’s a company that is extremely high quality, very under the radar, but they have amazing blush and they have great lipsticks.” Ecco Bella’s blushes aren’t too expensive, either: They price at $15.95. What’s even better? They sell refillable compacts separately so that it creates less waste.

Research Products While Using What You Have (Waste Isn’t Green)

“Never throw anything out.  Use up what you have as you begin researching what you’ll choose next,” said Denno. “Stores like The Detox Market, Follain and Credo Beauty offer price points across the spectrum, and browsing through your local Whole Foods or health food store beauty section is a great way to learn about products you’ve likely never seen.  Burt’s Bees and Weleda make wonderful 100% nontoxic products that sell at a price point that makes them for a larger consumer base,” she says. (These products don’t have to be astronomically expensive either.  The Detox Market offers green foundations from $22 and Burt’s Bees makes lipsticks starting at $9.)

Then replace nongreen products with green ones as you go.  The cheapest and easiest way to make your beauty routine green is to buy a green product whenever you run out of the notgreen product you already have.

However, you might need to replace something sooner than you think: If you’ve had your mascara for over six months, it’s time for it to go. Padgett recommends switching your old formula with W3ll People’s mascara, which costs $21.99.

Consider What Green Means To You

“Green” is a broad spectrum, so make sure you know whether a product’s aim is for greener ingredients or packaging, or both, and know which one matters to you. “Look for products packaged in glass, or in plastics with numbers on the bottom that correspond to what recycling plants will take in your area,” suggests Denno.

Cut Down on Your Beauty Addiction

We all love getting new makeup products— it feels so good to find a new lip or highlighter that makes us feel confident. However, it’s possible you’re overspending on beauty, which is bad for both the environment and your wallet.  “If you just use less products, it’s greener in general and there’s less waste,” said Jean Seo, founder of Evolue beauty. “Using less is better and less expensive, too.”

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