What Does "Zero-Waste" Beauty Really Mean? Here's What You Need to Know

Danielle Jackson

These days, beauty consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about the impact that their shopping habits have on the planet. Sustainable beauty and all of the terms that fall underneath it have spiked in popularity over the past few years, and now, in an effort to help fight our current climate crisis, beauty brands are putting in extra effort to help consumers produce less waste. One of the biggest subcategories has come in the form of "zero-waste" beauty products.

Zero-waste beauty can be defined in a handful of ways, but simply put, these are items designed with as minimal impact on the environment as possible. This includes plastic-free products, waterless formulas, recyclable packing, and biodegradable solutions.

"The less waste you have to throw out, the better," Ashlene Nand of Vaycay Beauty told POPSUGAR. "Aside from cardboard, which is generally compostable and biodegradable, many zero-waste beauty products use reusable tins or glass mason jars to hold the actual product instead of plastic. As a general rule, I try not to buy beauty products unless I know I will reuse the packaging supplied."

According to a previous report from Zero Waste Week, the beauty industry alone produces over 120 billion units of packaging a year, and while that isn't to say that it's the only industry that contributes to our landfill crisis - think of all the plastic that clothing and some of your go-to household items are packaged in - there are still tweaks we can make to our beauty routines to make them even just a little more sustainable.

The idea of switching to a zero-waste routine may sound slightly intimidating, but despite what you might assume, it doesn't call for a complete overhaul of your entire beauty routine. "Similar to the approach of eating one vegan meal a day, if we try to switch out two or more of our core products, collectively, we can make a difference to our planet," Nand said.

Additionally, there are dozens of brands out there that specialize in products that can be reused, refilled, or are packaged in biodegradable materials. Read ahead to check out a few that you can add to your regimen.