I tried a zero waste beauty routine for 3 months

Making the switch was not what I thought it would be


When it comes to beauty products, the first consideration we often turn to is whether or not the product works for our individual skin concerns. Dry skin? Look out for products with hydrating properties. Dull skin? Bring on the exfoliator!


But as we’ve recently discovered, beauty packaging alone can be pretty detrimental to our environment, especially towards our oceans and beaches. For instance, in 2018 alone, the beauty industry produced up to 120 billion plastic packaging units. And that is a lot of plastic that cannot be easily broken down.


I don’t know about you, but that just didn’t sit well with me. Surely, there must be a way to adopt a beauty routine that worked great for my skin and for the environment. So, To reduce the plastic footprint produced by my beauty routine, I decided to embark on a zero waste beauty routine. With the help of a local ethical beauty brand, oasis:skin, I gave my entire routine an overhaul, with the following:


  • Solid shampoo in ash charcoal

  • Green tea facial bar

  • Aleppo body soap

  • Organic Bulgarian white rose mist

  • Facial oil: Moisture boosting youth elixir

  • Plus some nifty accessories,

  • Travel soapbox (for when I travelled back home from hall)

  • Pyramid marble soap dish


These products come in no additional packaging, and the mist and facial oil come in glass bottles that you can return for recycling! Consider the vast difference when it comes to the typical products that I previously used that come in plastic bottles and nozzles that would be hard to separate, recycle and repurpose!


To remove my makeup, I also use reusable cotton rounds from The Sustainability Project, which really helped to reduce the amount of waste i produced each day from removing my makeup with disposable cotton wipes alone.


So, without further ado, here’s my experience with each of these products:


Bar Soaps

Previously, I had used the shampoo and body wash in the classic plastic bottles with the pumps. My facial wash came in a standard plastic tube packaging. With such packaging, it is always tricky when recycling these bottles; from washing them out to separating the different plastic components. Even after going through all that trouble, we still cannot be sure whether what we have done is enough to prevent it from going into the landfills.


Such bottled soaps also often contain parabens, a type of preservative to prevent bacteria. Some, but non-conclusive studies have also linked parabens to an increased chance of getting breast cancer. Sulfates, also known as SLS, a cleansing agent, help shampoos lather up into a nice foam, but they can also strip your hair of its natural oils, and cause irritation to those with a sensitive scalp. SLS has also been associated (though not proven) to cancer (again).

With all these in mind, it can seem quite daunting - as consumers, we can decide on whether we want to take our chances as we consume everything in moderation, or go for the “better safe than sorry route”. For me, I decided to adopt the latter.

Trying out these bar soaps that came without packaging, one concern I had was whether or not the bar soap would be slippery and hard to grasp in the shower. I did not want to spend time bending over and fighting with bar soaps. Secondly, I was afraid that the bar soaps would not lather up (due to the lack of SLS) and hence would leave me feeling “unclean”.


However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bar shampoo managed to lather up nicely and was easy to hold onto. After wetting the shampoo, I would rub the bottom of the bar on the top, sides and bottom of my scalp about 4-5 times, before I used my fingers to rub and create a lather. The smell was really light, and despite the lack of “menthol induced squeaky clean feeling”, it still felt clean. My hair was really soft after it dried.


With my Aleppo body soap, it was a bit harder to grab because of its size -it was bigger than my palm. What came in handy was the hemp soap bag that Hildra provided - putting the Aleppo soap inside the hemp soap bag, it became a really nice exfoliating tool that was gentle on the skin. It also made it really easy to hold onto. The Aleppo soap, unlike the shampoo, did not really lather up at all. There were small tiny bubbles that appeared on the surface of my skin, but do not expect a creamy, white lather. During the first few days of my experience with the Aleppo soap, I did not really feel clean because it did not have much of a smell compared to my dove body soap. However, my skin did continue feeling soft and supple throughout my use, and I am proud to say that I have gotten used to the lack of smell and foaming from the Aleppo soap.


Fun fact: Aleppo soaps are made from only 4 ingredients - Olive and Laurel Berry oils, Soda Ash (derived from sea salt) and water. It contains no palm oil, preservatives, colouring, synthetic fragrances or animal fat derivatives.


They are made by a Syrian soap master and his family. The soap factories are located in France and in Syria where they grow their own olive groves in the mountains.


Talk about supporting a local community! That’s what I have really come to love about supporting smaller brands and paying attention to ethical beauty - you know exactly who you are supporting and the thought and hard work that goes into creating these products. Hildra, founder of oasis:skin, also makes her products from scratch at home, after a long day of work at her day job!


But I digress; lastly, the face soap lathers up quite similarly to the Aleppo soap, only creating small little bubbles after I rub it between my palms. After getting the foam, I put the bar down and massage my face with my palms. What I love the most about the face soap is that it does NOT dry out my skin - I do not feel the tight, “squeaky clean” feeling which a lot of people actually mistake for what “clean” feels like. It should not leave your skin thirsty! If you feel that way currently with your cleanser, switch it out girl, it is way too harsh on your skin.


Lastly, I would really recommend getting a soap dish because it will help drain out the moisture from the bar soaps after using them. With the retained moisture, the bar soaps do get squishy.


2. Facial Toner Sprays

Now, what is up with glass bottles?

Glass bottles are an eco-friendly alternative when it comes to replacing the plastic ones. Every year, 2.7 billion plastic bottles that are used for cosmetic packaging end up in landfills in UK. Glass bottles are heavy-duty, less likely to get contaminated and can be reused and recycled. So the next time you are looking for abeauty product, think about investing in glass-bottled products and look out for recycling programmes.


For example, you can always return your glass bottles to oasis:skin once you’re done with your products. Additionally, there are other companies like LUSH that gives you a discount in return for 5 empties, as well as The Sustainability Project where you can purchase a refill of toothpaste powder without using and paying for the packaging. Eco-friendly stores such as


The Social Space and Unpackt also sell refills of shampoos, soaps, floor detergent etc, all without unnecessary packaging. Lucky for us, such services and packaging are becoming more accessible. Furthermore, less packaging usually means a lower cost since you need not pay for it ! Score!


Moving on to the next part of my skincare routine - my toner face mist and face oil.

The toner face mist is quite straightforward; it’s toner water put into a glass bottle with a spray nozzle. After cleansing your face, spray the toner water onto your face, and then massage the face oil onto your face.


I got the toner water in white Bulgarian rose (I am a sucker for anything with a rose scent) and this smells AMAZING. It’s light on your skin and provides an instant hydrating feel.


3. Face Oils

When I first heard of face oils, I was pretty apprehensive as I have never heard of people putting oils to their faces. Whereas the thought of getting rid of oil seems more logical. Hildra shared that face oils are amazing because they rejuvenate your skin, doubling up as a moisturiser and serum. With all the goodness from the natural oils, it will also help give your skin a glow-up naturally. Furthermore, with face oils, it is important that we understand how (non-)comedogenic oils work.


The different types of oils are arranged based on their likelihood of clogging the pores of your skin, aka their comedogenic levels. Hence, when choosing an oil, or looking at any kind of moisturising agent, really, look out for non-comedogenic products. Avoid really greasy ingredients such as jojoba/olive oils, shea or cocoa butter, lanolin, tar and artificial colours. Of course, moderation is key, and the concentration of these ingredients in the products would also affect its effect on your skin.


Natural glow on skin that I've observed after using facial oils! No foundation, no highlight was used in this photo.

Luckily for me, oasis:skin’s Moisture Boosting Youth Elixir AKA their face oil consists of oils low on the comedogenic scale such as organic avocado oil, organic fine lavender oil, non-photosensitizing organic bergamot oil, and organic eucalyptus oil - which explains the soothing, therapeutic scent of the face oil, which provides your skincare routine with a “spa-like” vibe. After about 2 months’ of using it, I also noticed a natural glow to my skin and smaller, tighter pores! Goodbye foundation.


Overall Thoughts

The switch was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Especially since our beauty routines are often carried out at home, the change was fuss-free. Plus, the switch to bar soaps in particular is really useful when you travel! You do not have to worry about the 100ml liquid restriction.

The change to a zero-waste ethical beauty routine really inspired me to start taking baby steps towards reducing waste in other aspects of my life. For example, I also started on reusable menstrual pads and cups, introducing collapsible cups and stash bags to my list of items to bring out of the house.

We all have different experiences and expectations when it comes to our ‘green’ journey, and we should remember not to compare ourselves to others! We do the best we can and as always, Beauty Uncovered will be here to help you in any way that we can with your ethical beauty journey. :)

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