Tips from friends of imprint
A collaborative article by: Kezia Rice, Anna Dyet, Ida Marwedel, Beth Deane, Bella Newton, Jessica Bargh, Kiki Callihan, Samantha Harrison, Anna Gniwotta, Kim Graves, Angela Giraldo and Tena Lavrencic (in order of appearance). Edited by Anna Gniwotta.
Hi everyone, Kezia here, founder and editor of imprint. I’m writing to tell you that I am obsessed with skincare - I love nothing more than sharing hacks that work for me, and having long, in depth discussions with my pals about the products we use. My friends tell me that even on my drunkest occasions after a night out, I will insist on taking my makeup off and doing my skincare routine (this is based on anecdotal evidence alone - I am too much of a mess to have anything but the vaguest memories of these moments). When travelling solo, the biggest thing I miss is not the company of my friends but the space in their airport security liquids bag - I have been known to spread my products out amongst a few different people’s bags to make space for all my skincare. This has resulted in a very confused and narrow minded airport security man who questioned my dad on why he’d packed a mascara, and a helpful and understanding woman who on a solo flight recently gave me a lot of assistance in sealing up my extremely full 20x20 cm bag. For today’s article, I reached out to our imprint readers, writers and contributors to find people who love skincare as much as I do. The skincare industry is a massive business, and consumers’ love and appreciation for the newest ‘miracle’ product can result in a whole lot of waste in terms of plastic packaging. I asked our imprint friends about the ways in which they implemented sustainability into their skin, hair and body care routines, and they replied in droves with recommendations for products that are natural, ethical, cruelty-free or vegan, as well as providing tips for reducing plastic waste in your routine as well.
Two disclaimers: as we learnt from Bella’s article yesterday, there is a big difference between encountering a few spots every now and then, and dealing with cystic acne. These tips are what worked for our contributors, but there is no guarantee they will work for every reader because everyone’s skin is different. Additionally, as much as using sustainable and ethically-sourced skincare products and methods should be a priority for people trying to reduce their plastic use and carbon footprint, it is not a viable option for those with particularly sensitive or acne-prone skin. In other words, make efforts to be more sustainable with your bathroom cabinet where you can, but don’t place blame or pressure on every single person you know to make similar switches - as Bella writes, unsolicited advice is not welcome, and those with ‘problem’ skin have probably tried anything and everything and will know a lot more about skincare than you do. Second disclaimer: we have some tips for those who choose to shave that will help you use products that are more sustainable and don’t produce unnecessary plastic waste. But! As Sacha wrote in Friday’s article, growing your body hair is an equally viable option, and we are by no means insinuating that anyone should be shaving by recommending these methods: what you choose to do with your own body hair is completely up to you. So, with this in mind, read on to get some idea and inspiration on sustainable skin, body and hair care options that may just become your new favourite product.
Skincare Product Shout Out
As a company that pride themselves on their ethical and sustainable principles, Lush also has many amazing options. Though mostly known as ‘the bath bomb shop’, I have tried out many of their products and these are my top picks:
First is their oil-based cleanser Ultrabland, I have never used a product that melts away make-up so quickly, whilst avoiding any harsh chemicals such as those from make-up wipes and other removers. It is also hydrating and very soothing with ingredients such as rose water, honey and almond oil, and is gentle enough to use on the eyes. It pairs perfectly with the home made cotton pads, and comes in a Lush tub, that is well known for being made from 100% recycled plastic, within the Lush Closed-Loop Recycling Scheme.
Next is my favourite face was to date ‘Olive Tree’ soap, it is part of the Lush gourmet soap range and does wonders for my skin. This soap is cut and sold by weight and therefore package free, the best option is to take an old container, or buy a Lush tin to take it home in and avoid any packaging at all. It's combination of olive oil and rose balance, smooth and hydrate the skin. It leaves my skin feeling so elasticated and plump! Lush also buy their olives from a permaculture farm in Palestine, in order to support social and environmental regeneration.
As someone who gets really cracked, dry skin, especially in winter, I find it really hard to find sustainable skincare that works. However, I cannot recommend the Lush “Oatifix” face mask enough. Not only is it really soothing, it helps clear up some of the worst dry patches on my face and gives my skin a much healthier glow. I’ve tried to make my own face masks in the past, but have never found anything as good as Oatifix. Lush seem to put a lot of thought into the sustainability of their products: the face mask tubs are made from 100% recycled materials which you can return to any Lush shops for them to recycle. As an incentive to return the tubs, you receive a free face mask once you bring five empty pots back! Win win!
I have to shoutout The Ordinary’s Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% here, because it has glowed up my skin so much the past couple of weeks that I find myself not reaching for foundation on the rare occasions I do my make up. The Ordinary packages its products in a combination of glass and plastic, so there is still work to do in terms of their sustainability, but they are definitely on the right lines - there was no excess plastic in the online order I did, and they purposefully did not participate in Black Friday 2019 to raise awareness about the dangers of consumerism.
I highly recommend REN Clean Skincare’s vegan range, though my all-time favourite is their Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic because it absolutely transformed my skin. Not only have I found it generates a gorgeous, glowy texture in my skin but also has been effective in preventing breakouts and fading old acne scars. Ready Steady Glow uses a combination of AHA and BHA acids to exfoliate the upper layers of the skin with daily use. This regular and gentle exfoliation allows for your moisturisers and serums to continuously penetrate deeper layers of the skin resulting in the sort-after ‘glow’ effect. REN’s vegan range incorporates the appeal of clean ingredients and a cruelty-free promise. Another noteworthy sustainability plus is that the products are concentrated enough that only a small amount is required which means the products last much longer thus cutting down on recurrent packaging, shipping and plastics.
Tea tree oil is an incredible natural remedy for sensitive blemished skin, it was the first product I found that actually soothed inflammation, and reduced the redness of spots almost overnight. I used it religiously as an acne prone teen and still use it now to treat the odd annoying blemish, especially those sore under-the-skin spots. The one I use is a diluted oil from The Body Shop, which is sustainably steam-distilled and packaged in a glass bottle, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. If you buy the undiluted oil from elsewhere, make sure to dilute it with water before you use it on your skin! It also has a plethora of other uses and health benefits – it’s antibacterial, so can be used as natural deodorant and as an antiseptic, and it’s great for clearing sinuses and taming coughs. It’s essentially a little fix-all healing potion. One 20ml bottle lasts me months, because you only need a tiny drop for each use, making it an amazing sustainable alternative to plastic-packaged drugstore acne treatments.
I recommend swapping to a bamboo toothbrush. It’s such an easy alternative to get hold of as they’re now increasingly available in high street shops! I got the Colgate bamboo charcoal soft toothbrush as I came across it in my local Wilko store, and I won’t go back to a plastic one again. There is no difference in the cleanliness of my teeth, and it feels better knowing that after I’m done with this toothbrush it won’t be hanging around in landfill for hundreds of years! The handle is 100% biodegradable, but the bristles do need to be removed before disposal (bristles can be recycled). Bamboo toothbrushes are a simple but great alternative and are also available via online subscription services, so there’s no excuse not to switch!
I can’t remember how I first discovered Lavilin deodorant, a white creamy clay that costs a whopping £17 for 13g. It is the most wondrous product, and absolutely worth the money. Apply by rubbing a small amount onto clean, dry skin. Apply a bit again the next day, then see if you can skip a day or two. You won’t feel a build-up and I’ve gone days without reapplying and haven’t had smell issues. It’s even effective on heavy sweat days like a long summer hike. If I’m on a short holiday I don’t even pack it... what is this magic? Which brings me to ingredients; I’ve researched and found nothing amiss. However, I don’t know enough about where the ingredients were sourced from, or the company’s ethics, to say it’s 100% ethical and sustainable, I also noticed the recipe has changed and is no longer vegan.
Hair with Flair
I use soap/shampoo bars from Carbon Theory and Friendly Soap and ever since I switched my once thick, curly, tatty hair has turned into perfectly soft curls and my acne has completely cleared up because they contain no harsh chemicals! They are amazing for the environment because there is no plastic used at all so you can use them knowing you’re not adding another shampoo bottle to the ocean!
For my hair I use a few different products, primarily the Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo from Lush, which is a beer shampoo and really helps to eliminate oiliness and bring volume into my thin, and often lifeless hair. The packaging is completely recyclable too! To protect my hair from dandruff and breakage I apply a few drops of peppermint essential oil onto my scalp once a week and then quickly massage it into my hair. I haven’t had dandruff in years! Peppermint oil is amazing for your hair and scalp in that it is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, keeping not only dandruff but irritation and oiliness at bay. Essential oils are pretty sustainable in that you only need a few drops at a time so a small bottle lasts forever. However, if you can’t afford high-quality, sustainable essential oils, peppermint tea left to cool in the fridge and then poured onto the scalp while showering works wonders too and is far more sustainable, especially if the peppermint is grown in your own garden!
I highly recommend Ethique products in general, but their shampoo and conditioner bars are by far the best I’ve ever tried (and I’ve tried a lot). They are always on sale at Holland & Barrett, and have trial pack options so you can find the most suitable type for you without splashing out on big bars that don’t work (they’re also great for travel or for taking to the gym- I pop mine in an old tin to take to the pool). It’s important with shampoo bars to find the correct one for your hair type, I’ve tried so many non-specific bars that either dried out my hair and made it frizzy and brittle, or made it super greasy, but Ethique have a range of options. I personally use the St. Clements shampoo for oily hair and have never had so many compliments on how shiny my hair looks! They come in cardboard packaging and last way longer than a regular bottle, so it prevents loads of plastic waste too!
I’m personally trying to incorporate more natural ingredients in my haircare routine as I have been noticing that some chemicals do not react well with my scalp. I started using 100% pure castor oil at the start of lockdown as a hydrating mask for my hair and since then I have noticed a huge difference in the health of my long locks. If you do your research you’ll see that castor oil is supposed to act as a strengthening hair oil and it locks moisture into your hair—for me it has done exactly that! I use it about twice a week and leave it for at least an hour on my hair before I wash it out. I do have to say that it has a very sticky texture rather than oily so if you are not into weird textures, this might not be for you. I usually get my 1 litre bottle at my local Afro haircare shop for £19.99.
My company, Precious Plastic Lancaster, produces 100% recycled combs, designed by stylists in London and made from plastic waste as an insightful (and useful) exploration of “beauty from waste.” RE=COMB seeks to replace beauty industry tools made of single-use plastic and be more responsible with plastic already in circulation in order to “deal with our excessive amounts of waste that is causing massive environmental damage.” Every comb is unique as it is made up of shredded waste plastic, each colour hand-mixed, then hand-injected into moulds. You can purchase the combs at re-comb.com and learn more about up-cycling waste plastic at preciousplasticlancaster.co.uk.
Shaving for Dummies
About 2 months ago, I got a reusable razor and I can tell you that it is so easy to use! Sure, I cut myself, twice. But I cut myself with disposable razor pretty much every time I shaved - I’m just a clumsy person! You have to adapt your shaving technique (do shorter strokes, and don’t press it hard against your skin) and it does a wonderful job. I chose one that my local zero-waste shop had at the time, but I honestly think they all work the same, so I recommend taking the one that is available to you. It’s made out of metal and bamboo and with the proper care, it can last you for years. The only waste is the metal blade, which is completely recyclable.
For shaving I tend to make sure I exfoliate beforehand with a homemade sugar and coconut oil scrub, which I absolutely recommend as exfoliating allows for a much closer shave. I use coconut oil or jojoba oil instead of shaving foam, always going with the direction of the hair, and then I currently moisturise with leftover moisturisers! If cold-pressed, new or sustainably-made coconut oils are out of your price range, the stuff that you use in cooking works just the same! Olive oil can be used too, but some dermatologists advise against applying it in ‘certain areas’.
I have nearly gone to the natural, no more shaving, lifestyle. Unfortunately I get ridiculous ingrown hairs if I don’t shave. If you’re like me (cut yourself shaving too often, too lazy/forgetful to buy new safety blades, give yourself razor burn) you can pick up a beard trimmer and completely remove the throw-away aspect of shaving. When shopping, be sure to find one that trims close to the skin, consider a shorter edge for reaching the hard-to-reach places, and look for a good brand with positive reviews that will last you years. Bonus points if they offer repairs. If you choose battery-powered then pick up some rechargeable batteries. The best part of using a beard trimmer? No more razor burn.
I’ve also seen a lot of sustainability swaps recommending safety razors over plastic single use razors. If you want to keep up the regular programme of shaving, do it. Most sustainable choice--pick up an old one from a charity shop or a carboot sale. Nothing has changed to the overall style and function since Gillette patented it in 1904. Then pick up a packet of safety razors, cheap as chips, and learn how to shave with it (but be warned if you buy online there’s going to be a ton of plastic packaging).
My first tip is switching out from single use cotton pads, there are plenty of options on various small business websites of ‘cotton rounds’ that you use a couple of times and then pop in the wash to re-use. However, I spent a Friday afternoon last year cutting an old hair towel into circles, (or any shape that appeals), and stitching the edges of the pieces (again not necessary but I was enjoying the task). I gave them out to some friends, and now keep mine in an old cleaned out Yankee candle jar to avoid using disposable cotton pads for cleansing or removing make-up. I find the flannel material is also much more effective for cleansing or removing make-up with oil based cleansers, as the surface is better at removing excess product.
I have been using ground cloves, cocoa powder and water mixed as a paste to brush my teeth--and that’s it--for the last 6 months and I’ve been quite happy with it. Cloves have been used throughout the ages to ease toothache and have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Chocolate (no sugar added) is apparently effective at fighting cavities, plaque and tooth decay, limits oral bacteria and fights periodontal disease. I tried a similar concoction with coconut oil as the base (supposedly good at fighting bad bacteria, reducing plaque buildup, preventing tooth decay and fighting gum disease), sodium bicarbonate (a totally normal ingredient in many toothpastes), and charcoal for whitening purposes. I didn’t enjoy the greasiness of the oil, however, I will be adding bicarb and charcoal back to the next batch. Also consider adding cinnamon or essential oils--do your research first. The best part: I can purchase all the ingredients package-free from Single Step, my local whole foods shop, for cheaper than eco-friendly toothpaste. And a word of caution, cloves are strong in large doses, so be careful when you first start. On the plus side, if you have sore gums you might see a positive change.
I have been dealing with eczema my whole life and always had to carefully choose what cosmetics I use. I used many different body lotions and creams, but making my own revolutionised my skincare! It is so simple to make, it saves me money and it comes with no waste at all (I am reusing a big plastic pot I got with another product years ago). I mix equal parts of shea butter and coconut butter and add a few tablespoons of almond oil. When I feel fancy, I also add some drops of lavender oil, for a calming effect and nicer smell. And that’s it! I melt the two kinds of butter, add the oils to the mix, and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight before using it. It feels luxurious and it nurtures my skin so well. The best part is that I avoid putting any harmful chemicals on my body or in the water system (yes, toxic chemicals from personal care products end up in our waters).
Happy Skin Habits
My next tip is moisturise, moisturise moisturise. I have always had more oily skin, and maybe avoided over moisturising. However, I have completely flipped it around, and now go to bed as shiny as anything. There are many moisturisers out there, and some can be lighter, or have balancing ingredients to compliment your skin type, so there is no excuse.
My last tip is just to be consistent, lockdown has been the perfect time for me to maintain my skin care routine, and though it has been wasted as I have not been able to show it off, my skin has never looked better.
Wash your face more than you think! The 60 second cleanse is real, and it works to get you glowier, clearer skin (or it did wonders for me - remember every skin is different). It’s as simple as it sounds - basically just wash your face more thoroughly - and I do it every morning in the shower and every evening with the aid of a face wash.
In general, for skincare and wellbeing I can’t recommend being outside and in nature enough, simply allowing your skin to see the sun and breathe makes such a difference. I find it helps fight irritation, and especially in summer my skin always looks and feels much better. Just ensure that you’re not wiping and touching your face too much, especially on humid days when sweat melts your makeup off, always use a napkin or something clean to dab with, or wash your face regularly with cold water.