I’ve always enjoyed trying out new beauty products and cosmetics. I went through a particularly bad phase when I lived in London and I became a prolific make-up shopper. But over the past few years, I’ve become far more conscious of my impact on the environment.
I’m now more aware of consumerism, excessive packaging, plastic waste, and how nasty and unnecessary chemicals affect my health. So, I’ve gradually decided to make some feel-good beauty swaps to benefit my health and the environment, from ethical, cruelty-free products to natural, sustainable, organic cosmetics, and homemade DIY solutions to supporting small local businesses.
Now, I wouldn’t ever go back to some of the cosmetics I used before, that are filled with chemicals and wrapped in plastic, overpriced and mass produced. They’re only small changes, but I feel much better for them and I’m always looking out for my next swap. Here are five of my favourites feel-good swaps so far…
Who doesn’t love a scent that lifts your mood and makes you feel glamorous?
I certainly love perfume! There’s something special about fragrances that evoke memories, influence your mood and make you feel great. I remember getting my first perfume when I was younger and feeling like a princess when I wore it. I felt so grown-up being able to copy my mum who always had her familiar scent, and I loved spritzing it on my neck and wrists for special occasions.
Over the years, I’ve found my favourite signature scents, but I’ve also come to the conclusion that perfumes are unnecessarily expensive now. Many are endorsed by celebrities and labelled with designer brands, so you end up paying over-the-odds for advertising, marketing and branding, instead of a high-quality product.
But for me, what’s even worse is the realisation that many perfumes are made with synthetic chemicals, so I didn’t know what I was spraying on my skin and breathing in. I noticed that certain fragrances (as much as I liked them) gave me headaches every time I wore them, and it worried me. So, I sought a more natural alternative and found Eden Perfumes, based in Brighton.
Made using eco-friendly, natural and ethically-sourced ingredients and essential oils, their fragrances are cruelty-free and botanical (no musk or ambergris here!), containing no nasty headache-causing chemicals. Many of the perfumes are based on favourites from the fragrance world (I found my signature fragrance), but at a fraction of the price. I never get headaches when I’m wearing my Eden perfumes, the scent lasts longer, and they’re great value for money. I’d highly recommend trying them!
Honeybee Beautiful face cream and oil
After sailing through my teens with enviably clear skin, I’ve struggled through my twenties with hormonal acne and embarrassing spotty skin for years. I’ve tried everything, from not wearing make-up to hiding behind make-up; over-the-counter remedies to homemade solutions; and prescribed creams to antibiotics. It’s been an ongoing battle!
I still have issues with my skin and it’s not where I want it to be, but it’s one of those things that I’ve learnt to accept and try not to let it bother me. Instead, I do what I can to treat my skin well and take good care of it. I know I’ll thank myself in years to come, and my mum has always taught me to be gentle and kind to my skin and to moisturise from a young age. If her skin is anything to go by, I think it’s advice that’s worth taking.
So instead of using harsh chemicals, I now swear by Honeybee Beautiful, a local small business that makes 100% natural and bee-friendly skincare products using honey. The products are even in sustainable packaging that you can send back when empty.
I use the award-winning Bumble Bee face cream for dry skin in the day, the Bumble Bee facial oil at night and the Bumble Bee facial spritz to refresh on hot summer days – they smell divine! Every time I use them, it’s like an aromatherapy treatment, and they make my skin feel hydrated and soft.
Catherine, the founder of Honeybee Beautiful, is so warm and friendly too. She always sends personal thank you emails when I order online, as well as sending out regular newsletters brimming with useful information on health and wellbeing. What’s more, Cath runs fantastic classes and experience days where you can learn to make your own products too. I’ve done the perfume balms and scrubs course and had a brilliant time!
Absolution face wash
I’ve recently rediscovered Absolution, an ethical organic French cosmetics brand that I discovered years ago. Developed from certified-organic or wild plant extracts, minerals and vitamins, Absolution’s formulas focus on natural ingredients, to offer better results than conventional chemical products. They even use airless packaging to protect the products without needing to add preservatives, and their packaging is made with recycled paper and printed with vegetable inks, so it’s kind to the planet too.
Make-up wipes have been a big NO in my books for a long time, because they strip your skin of it’s natural oils and create unnecessary waste. Even the biodegradable ones take years to break down. So, I prefer washing my face the old-fashioned way, with water, a cleanser and a reusable cloth each night. And the Absolution Le Nettoyant Pureté gel face wash is a dream to use. Not only is it natural, organic and eco-certified, but above all, it’s gentle on my skin, smells amazing and removes make up easily.
This face wash contains soothing Roman chamomile, healing aloe vera, hydrating oats, calming neroli, antiseptic sage, antibacterial zinc, stimulating white willow and fragrant essential oils. Since I’ve been using it, my skin has been clearer and any rogue spots have been noticeably less aggressive. It’s gentle enough to use every day, but cleanses deeply and balances natural oil production. It’s a little on the pricey side, but the bottle has lasted ages and there are no signs of it running out any time soon.
One of my most recent changes is natural deodorant. I used to use Mitchum antiperspirant only, because it was effective and had a nice fresh smell. But after using aerosol antiperspirant deodorants with aluminium in them for years, I decided it was time to try natural deodorant, which is better for your health and better for the environment too.
I was sceptical and not convinced that natural alternatives would work effectively, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised! I’ve made my own simple and organic homemade deodorant with arrowroot, bicarbonate of soda, coconut oil, cocoa butter and essential oils (my favourite combination has been peppermint and lemon – fresh and zingy!). Mixed together, it forms a paste that you apply like cream, and I love using it. It smells amazing, hydrates my skin, and keeps me fresh and dry all day. I store it in a little metal pot and only need to use a pea-sized amount, so it lasts ages and is far more cost-effective than shop-bought options.
I’ve also tried a Wild refillable natural deodorant stick which was recommended to me. This option is more convenient for travel, as my homemade deodorants are prone to melting and turning into liquid in warm weather due to the coconut oil, so the solid Wild deodorant is more convenient when away from home. However, I prefer my homemade version (I know exactly what’s in it and it feels good to know I made it from scratch) but it’s also nice to have a choice!
Shampoo and conditioner bars
My hair is curly, so for a many years, I’ve tried to avoid heavy products with parabens, silicone, sulphates and other nasties that can dry out the hair follicle and create frizz. But now, I also choose to use shampoo and conditioner bars, to reduce my consumption of single use plastic bottles.
Solid shampoo and conditioners bars have so many benefits. They’re waste-free, they last ages (months and months! My current bars have been on-the-go since March and they’re still going strong), and they are perfect for travelling as they don’t take up much space and you can even pop them in your hand luggage. I’ve taken my trusted shampoo bars to Costa Rica, Bali and beyond!
It might take a while to find your ideal shampoo bar and it’s often trial and error. But my current favourites are from Lush (I love this brand for their cruelty-free ethics and products that are never ever tested on animals). I’m using Seanik shampoo and Big conditioner, which leave my hair feeling so clean, soft, healthy and shiny.
Have you made any environmentally or health conscious beauty swaps? I’d love some suggestions on what to swap next!
Thanks for reading,