Earth Month may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean our efforts to live sustainably should come to a halt – especially when it comes to our cosmetic and skincare shopping. Just last year alone, skincare brands have reported a massive surge in online sales alone as people had to stay in and subsequently resorted to shopping online.
Let’s not even go into the mini-sized beauty products that have become a category all their own. Over the years, beauty minis have become ubiquitous as they make their way into our lives via cute holiday gift sets or as sample sachets courtesy of a dutiful Beauty Advisor.
When we say they’re a trend all on their own, we mean it – just look at the beauty mini aisle that greets you as you’re queuing up to check out at your nearest Sephora store.
Indeed, beauty samples have become an extremely lucrative category, growing to become the third-largest driver for consumers to purchase full-size products, according to Euromonitor International – succeeded only by past experience and recommendations from friends and family.
From a customer standpoint, it gives them a chance to try out a product before shelling out what’s sometimes double or triple the price for a full-size version. From a brand perspective, it’s a chance to get your product in front of people.
The problem with beauty minis
While these petite products come with significant advantages, they may not be as harmless as they seem. Here’s the downside to your mini-product obsession: a lot of travel-sized products are duplicates of their plastic full-size counterparts and end up in landfills, the oceans, or in rare cases, at a recycling plant.
But even in the best-case scenario situation (which is the latter), the machines currently being used by recycling facilities often don’t recognise these beauty minis since the items are so small and won’t usually fit on the conveyor belts to recycle the goods.
Now, imagine the pile of beauty samples you have right now in your beauty stash and multiply that by millions – then think about how you usually discard them. Odds are, you probably throw the half-finished shampoo or face wash in the trash if it doesn’t work for your hair or face.
Look at it this way, tiny products are the “plastic straws” of the beauty industry, alongside other single-use beauty items like tiny spatulas, samples, sheet masks, and facial wipes.
So, you can see why it’s important to rethink our beauty shopping and approach our beauty routines in a more sustainable manner. The hotel industry, for example, is leading the charge toward change in a big way. Marriott International has already replaced theirs with larger bottles and dispensers, helping to eliminate almost 800,000kg of plastic in the process – and there are plenty more hotels embracing the practice.
On an individual level, that’s not to say that you should totally stop shopping for your beauty minis. Instead, arm yourself with education and research, and adopt long-term sustainable habits in your beauty routine that is good for you and for the planet.
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One of the ways is to consider the packaging of your beauty product when you’re doing your shopping. For example, Innisfree introduced a new edition of its Green Tea Seed Serum last year that was packaging in paper bottles, which used 51.8% less plastic compared to the original packaging.
Alternatively, you can also incorporate solid beauty products – which have seen significant innovation in the past couple of years – such as shampoo bars and body soaps into your beauty routine.
Another way you can try is by relook the ways you can give your beauty containers a second life – if you’re already recycling your plastic mineral water bottle, what’s stopping you from recycling or repurposing your beauty empties?
Luckily for you, Daily Vanity has done the legwork and rounded up some of the best ways for you to do so – keep reading to learn how!
It’s important to keep in mind that like most things involving sustainability, it’s hard to point to a single solution – the issue is both multi-pronged and open-ended.
By being aware of the problem, you’ve basically taken the first step in helping to fix it. Next is making incremental lifestyle adjustments. And maybe that, for you, involves reducing your waste, one mini moisturiser at a time.
7 ways you can repurpose your beauty containers, big or small
Use your empties for refills
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It really helps when you use refillable products whenever you can – that’s because the plastic or glass packaging that your product comes in is typically designed to last a long time! So as much as you can, try to opt for products that refill options for sale or simply get refill packs the next time you shop.
And while we can’t exactly travel out of the country yet, your mini empties will definitely come in handy when it’s time for you to hop on the plane.
Instead of bringing your entire, jumbo-sized skincare product collection with you (or rushing out to the airport pharmacy every single time to see if you can find some travel-sized bottles, or throwing your skin out of whack by using every sample-sized product you’ve accumulated in the last year), you can decant your favourite products into any empty beauty containers that are travel-sized.
When you’re finished with the mini product, wash out the container with soap and warm water and leave it to dry. Then, store it somewhere for later use. Trust us, these little bottles will save you the scramble and the money that it would take to get an entire travel set!
Reuse your facial cleansing device
You’ve invested in a pricey facial cleansing gizmo, it’s served you well, and you’re planning to upgrade to a newer version. Don’t ditch your old one just yet, repurpose it as a brush cleaner instead!
All you have to do is wet your device, apply a brush cleanser, and glide your makeup brush through the soft silicone bristles.
Keep aside pretty jars for planting flowers and succulents
Korean beauty is known for its packaging, ranging from super cute to simple and classic. Sometimes, it’s so pretty that you don’t want to throw it away! But if you’re feeling concerned that you’re
hoarding saving the gorgeous empties just to sit on your shelves and collect dust, fear not – give them a second life and use them to pot flowers and plants instead.
Deep, wide-rimmed jars can be used to pot succulents. Simply clean out the pot and then fill it with a mixture of soil and gravel before creating a little hole in the soil for your plant to sit in. Water the soil to moisten it and help it settle. Do this only once – you don’t want to risk over-watering your succulent!
Next, remove your succulents from their nursery containers, removing as much soil as you can and place it in the pot. Then, cover the top of the soil with additional gravel. Succulents can thrive without much water or sunlight, so be sure to only water it when the soil looks dried out and keep the plant where it will get a lot of light, but out of direct sunlight so that it doesn’t burn.
Some taller jars or bottles also make beautiful vases for single flowers. Simply wash them out with warm water and soap to make sure that they’re free of any skincare product and remove any labels or stickers that might still be on the bottle.
Then, fill the bottle with room temperature water. After that, place your flower in the jar and cut the stem as necessary so that it fits at a height you’re happy with. Easy peasy!
Save other jars for DIY skincare, tiny hair accessories, and cotton buds
DIY skincare isn’t always advisable because it lacks preservatives and doesn’t last very long, but that doesn’t mean that you should never do it!
If you’re making short-lasting DIY skincare blends, don’t go out and buy new bottles to store them – simply save some of your old skincare empties and pot your DIY formulas into them. Since these DIY skincare formulas don’t last very long, it’s a great way to upcycle product empties that you’re not crazy about.
You can also repurpose these jars to hold your tiny hair clips and cotton buds so that they’re all within easy reach whenever you want to retrieve them.
Create your own pre-soaked toner pads
Along the lines of DIY skincare, you can also consider making your own pre-soaked cotton pads if you have an empty skincare container that’s big enough to fit cotton rounds.
Simply clean out the jar so that there’s no residue of your old product and leave it out to dry. Once the container is dry, put in some cotton rounds or cotton balls.
Then, fill up the container with your favourite toner or essence and voila! Easy pre-soaked cotton pads. These are perfect for keeping on your vanity dresser or throwing into your gym bag for a quick post-workout refresh!
Scent your home using old perfume bottles
If you’re anything like us, you probably would’ve collected a fair amount of your favourite perfume bottles. Well, don’t just let them gather dust and go rusty – make an oil diffuser out of them!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to teach you how to turn your beloved perfume bottle into a nice home diffuser.
Give used candles a second life
We’re pretty sure you have a couple of candle jars or holders lying around that you can’t bear to throw them out because they’re too gorgeous!
Well, you don’t have to – turn them into a makeup brush holder instead or even a flower vase. Just make sure you scrape the wax out thoroughly and wash the jar first before using them.
When in doubt, recycle
Most of your skincare containers are going to be glass or plastic, this means that you can definitely check if they’re able to be recycled before discarding them into the trash.
Many beauty companies now accept your beauty empties – even if they don’t belong to the brand itself – and will even incentivise you for your efforts!
Just ensure that you have thoroughly cleaned and dried those containers because if you don’t, your beauty empties may risk contaminating an entire batch of perfectly good recyclables once they reach the recycling facility, rendering them useless.