How to Choose Eco-Friendly Makeup

| November 15, 2011

By Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen

Find out how to make eco-friendly choices when purchasing makeup.

You can minimize waste by buying eyeliner pencils encased in wood instead of pencils or liquids contained within plastic. Wood shavings have the potential to biodegrade, whereas most plastics do not. If one in 20 eyeliner users switched from using plastic-encased pencils to wooden ones, nearly 10,000 pounds of plastic could be saved.

Eye shadow
If you use pressed eye shadow, choose a brand that provides a reusable compact with slots for refills. Each time you buy a refill instead of an entirely new container, you’ll reduce your costs, the amount of energy used to produce and ship the hard plastic, glass, or chrome packaging (some of which come with mirrors), and the amount of waste you discard when it’s empty. If one in 25 women chose refillable eye shadow, more than 350,000 pounds of wasted cosmetics containers could be saved each year.

Opt for foundation in a simple recyclable (or reusable) glass container over one sold in a nonrecyclable plastic tube or bottle. The manufacturing energy saved by avoiding the plastic container could run the lightbulb in your makeup mirror for more than seven hours. If one in 20 women chose glass over plastic packaging for her next foundation purchase, the energy conserved could fill a 20-gallon gas tank once a week for 24 years.

Given that the average woman may inadvertently ingest more than four pounds of lipstick in her lifetime, you’ll want to look for lip colour made from plant-derived ingredients instead of from synthetic oils, paraffin waxes, and toxic coal tar dyes (look for FD&C or D&C followed by a colour and number). If one in five lipstick wearers began demanding plant-based options, total petroleum product consumption would decrease by more than 825,000 pounds per year.

Your best choice for mascara is one that is made from plants and minerals instead of from petroleum products. However, if this is not a viable option for you, avoid varieties that come in plastic bubble packs on cardboard backings.

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