Looking for ways to clean up and green up your lifestyle? With more of us becoming aware of issues like reducing waste and our use of single-use plastics, there are plenty of small steps you can take to make your beauty routine more eco-friendly.

Here are five ideas to get you started:

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Ditch the disposables

Whilst most of us have got the memo about avoiding plastic straws and shopping bags, our beauty cabinets could also do with a bit of work. Think about swapping disposable items for more sustainable, long-lasting alternatives—for instance, metal safety razors instead of plastic disposable razors, reusable cloth facial rounds instead of single-use cotton wool pads or cleansing wipes, and brushes made from natural materials like wood or bamboo rather than plastic.

Not sure where to buy these products? Live Zero, Slowood and Plastic Free HK are all great places to get inspiration and shop for sustainable swaps.

2 / 5

Look for less packaging

Over the last few years, “naked” beauty products have become much easier to find in Hong Kong—so now’s the time to trade in those plastic bottles of shampoo and shower gel for minimally-packaged items like soap and shampoo bars.

New Zealand brand Ethique has an extensive range of handcrafted solid beauty bars, including shampoos, conditioners, body wash, shaving soap and even face cleansers, serums, scrubs and creams; find them in-person and online in Hong Kong at iSGO, Live Zero and Moksa Slow Beauty. British green beauty pioneers Lush are also set to open their first “Naked Shop” in Hong Kong later this year, exclusively selling products that are completely packaging-free; in the meantime, you can shop their current sizeable naked collection online.

See also: 25 Ways To Go Green In Hong Kong

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Buy better

If zero packaging isn’t completely feasible for all your beauty needs, choosing brands that minimise their use of single-use plastic packaging is another good option. Brands like Tata Harper and Aesop use mostly recyclable glass bottles for their packaging, Elate Cosmetics uses fair-trade bamboo packaging for their make-up line, local brand Coconut Matter use zero-waste cardboard and paper packaging for their all-natural deodorants, lipsticks and lip balms, and ILIA mainly uses recycled aluminium to house their cosmetics.

Many brands are also beginning to explore the idea of long-lasting, refillable packaging to stem the tide of single-use culture. Kjaer Weis’ entire make-up line has been designed to be refillable (including foundation, blush, eye shadow, highlighter, lipstick and mascara), whilst Elate Cosmetics offers create-your-own, refillable bamboo palettes and compacts.

Refillable lipsticks are currently trending in the world of luxury cosmetics too—Hourglass has a line of refillable sleek gold lipsticks, La Bouche Rouge’s sustainable lipsticks come in refillable leather cases, and Charlotte Tilbury’s latest Hot Lips 2 collection uses interchangeable refillable cases.

See also: 3 Luxurious Eco-Friendly Salons In Hong Kong

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Reuse, refill and recycle

A number of stores in Hong Kong now offer refill stations for products like body wash, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and even toothpaste; simply bring your own containers to restock your supplies. The likes of Live Zero, Slowood, I Never Use Foundation Breakfast Club and local brand Bathe To Basics should have you covered for all your refillable essentials.

Similarly, cruelty-free fragrance lines Le Labo and 100Bon will refill their fragrances in-store, with boutique 10/10 Hope giving a discount to 100Bon customers that do so at their Festival Walk and Causeway Bay stores. 

Several beauty brands also have their own recycling schemes in place to encourage you to bring back their packaging. Aesop, MAC, Kiehl’s, L’Occitane, Lush and INUF Skincare all run recycling programmes in Hong Kong, with many offering complimentary gifts and rewards to customers who return a certain amount of containers.

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Read the labels

Green beauty is a bit of a catch-all term, so the best way to ensure you support the issues you care about most is to get better at reading the labels and understanding the terminology behind beauty brands. Look out for certifications from places such as the Leaping Bunny Programme, PETA, the Soil Association and Ecocert, which offer independent verification that brands are definitely what they claim to be—like being cruelty-free, vegan or using organic ingredients.

Perhaps there are certain ingredients you want to avoid instead? Plastic microbeads (often found in exfoliators) that pollute the oceans have been banned in rinse-off cosmetics in countries like the UK and US, but remain legal in Hong Kong; look out for ingredients like polyethylene and nylon on product labels.

There have been health and eco concerns about many other common beauty ingredients including parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petroleum derivatives, palm oil, and synthetic colours and fragrances; study product labels, check out specific brand’s FAQ pages or email them to find out if they’re including them in their formulations.

See also: The Best Green Beauty Boutiques In Hong Kong

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